Bill Nye in new 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, Jan 2017 [photo: Oskar Liners, Community Chevrolet, Burbank]
Bill Nye, better known as "The Science Guy" on the popular PBS children's series that bears his name, loves electric cars.
He drove one of only a few hundred original GM EV1 two-seat electric cars almost 20 years ago.
Three weeks ago, he took delivery of a brand-new "Kinetic Blue" 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV—and he says he couldn't be happier with it.
We spoke to Nye this week about his new electric car, which follows not only the EV1 but also a Mini E, a BMW i3, a Ford Focus Electric, a Nissan Leaf, and a Volkswagen e-Golf.
In other words, the guy's committed.
The Bolt EV, he told us, "is head and shoulders above the rest" of the electric hatchbacks he's driven.
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
It has better visibility than his previous Leaf, especially the rear three-quarter view, and he loves the "bird's eye" top-down view assembled from the Bolt EV's various cameras.
He admits he's still getting used to the video rear-view mirror—which makes it hard to judge how close a following car actually is.
That's a reaction we had too, driving both the Bolt EV and a Cadillac CT6 fitted with the GM electronic innovation.
So far, he told us, his only quibbles are that he wouldn't mind the driver's seat to be a bit wider.
He'd like the steering wheel to tilt over a wider range, too, because when the seat is properly set for him, the wheel rim blocks a portion of the instrument panel.
Nye also raved about using his smartphone as the navigation system, which he said took him all of 3 seconds to get used to as it's implemented in the Bolt EV.
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
And he's already started to give rides to friends and colleagues, to get them to break out what he calls "that EV smile" after they understand what electric cars are really like to use.
The Bolt EV is now his everyday car, and it makes his average trips—the 70 to 90 miles from his home in Studio City to a studio in Pasadena, then to Los Angeles airport, and back—eminently doable without having to keep his speed down or worry about finding a public charging station.
He does still have his old 2004 Toyota Prius hybrid, but he said it rarely gets used now.
CHECK OUT: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV first drive: 240 miles in an electric car
"Everyone's got a number" of miles they need to travel without worrying, he said. "Mine is just under 100 miles," which was a stretch with his BMW i3 or Nissan Leaf.
With his new Bolt EV, Nye doesn't even think about range. He just drives, he said. "Now I can go to Palm Springs without worrying," he said, a distance of about 120 miles.
"If you don't drive an electric car," Nye said, "you just don't get it"—the longstanding "getting butts in seats" challenge to explaining the benefits of electric cars.
First 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV buyers, Fremont, California: Bobby Edmonds, Bill Mattos, Steve Henry
"What will it take?" to get more people to understand their benefits, he asked.
But Nye is sold on their benefits, and he has been for years.
"Who the hell wants to drive a combustion-engine car?" he ended. "People ... come on!"