Doug Kerr, daughter Andie Kerr, fiancee Barbara Gleason; Fiat 500e, Ford Focus Electric, Fiat 500e

Doug Kerr, daughter Andie Kerr, fiancee Barbara Gleason; Fiat 500e, Ford Focus Electric, Fiat 500e

The advent of affordable 200-mile electric cars promises to increase public acceptance of cars with plugs—or at least that's the hope of both carmakers and advocates.

The first of those, the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, is now entering the market, state by state, to great acclaim.

But not every electric-car fan is sold on the Bolt EV's combination of qualities.

DON'T MISS: Chevrolet Bolt EV: Green Car Reports' Best Car To Buy 2017

One such enthusiast is Doug Kerr, an attorney in Irvine, California. He wrote about himself: "Under the pen name of 'Unplugged,' he has apparently offended every regular reader of Green Car Reports at one time or another."

Kerr had placed an order for a Bolt EV as soon as dealers began taking orders. But now that the car is in dealerships, he decided to cancel it and wait for a Tesla Model 3, and he explained why.

What follows are his words, edited by Green Car Reports for comprehension, style, and length.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Sep 2016

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Sep 2016

This is an exciting time for electric vehicle enthusiasts.

Sure, we have to deal with a president who loves oil and coal at the expense of alternative energy, and we can expect no additional incentives for zero emission vehicles.

But it just might be too late to reverse what the California Air Resources Board and Tesla Motors have already begun.

Have the dual efforts of Tesla CEO Elon Musk and CARB director Mary Nichols pushed us to a tipping point where the end of gasoline cars is near?

READ THIS: 2017 Chevy Bolt EV electric car: new owner's first impressions

No one can say where the light vehicle market will be in ten years. No one.

The automakers know where we will be in five years, of course.

Enthusiasts know that Aston Martin, Audi, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Porsche, Volkswagen, Volvo, and of course Tesla all plan to introduce new electric cars within the next three years.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Sep 2016

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Sep 2016

Nearly all of those new models will exceed 200 miles in range. Battery prices are dropping each year. Battery technology is also moving quickly forward, or at least steadily.

Electric car prices are dropping, most recently shown by the Chevrolet Bolt EV, with an EPA-rated range of  238 miles.

The practical, affordable electric car for the masses is upon us.

CHECK YOUR STATE: When can I buy a Chevy Bolt EV electric car? See state-by-state schedule

So what does all this have to do with making a buying decision on the Bolt? Plenty.

If the Bolt alone were the only reasonably priced electric car, the decision would be much easier.

With at least three or four such electric cars with 200-plus miles of range coming over the next few years, the decision is more difficult.

Doug Kerr, daughter Andie Kerr, fiancee Barbara Gleason; Fiat 500e, Ford Focus Electric, Fiat 500e

Doug Kerr, daughter Andie Kerr, fiancee Barbara Gleason; Fiat 500e, Ford Focus Electric, Fiat 500e

When the Chevrolet Bolt Concept was first unveiled in January 2015, I was impressed. It had a tiny vestigial grill, and a raked windshield that ended at the roof edge. It was a compact utility vehicle look-alike, but it also had a sportiness about it—and an obvious EV identity.

Somewhere along the way to mass production, the Bolt gained not one, but two fake grills, the second one blemishing the front bumper with a massive black blob. So much for that EV identity. 

Of course, the windshield was shortened for practicality, and the flush door handles met the same fate. Even the C-pillar was amputated, perhaps in an effort to emulate the BMW i3 look. Side note to GM: please don’t ever try to emulate the i3 look again.

COUNTERPOINT: Chevy Bolt EV: 800-mile trip in 238-mile electric car shows challenges remain

To my perspective, the Bolt had lost its sporty EV identity, and replaced it with the looks of a pedestrian crossover shape like so many in the mid-$20,000 class.

The Bolt had become just another Honda CR-V-alike, but with much better technology and a lower ride height. Fine.

I figured I could get a dark grey metallic one that would cover up most of these design sins. The black blob fake grill and the amputated C-pillar would fade into obscurity.

Chevrolet Bolt EV concept, 2015 Detroit Auto Show

Chevrolet Bolt EV concept, 2015 Detroit Auto Show

I was still enthralled with the idea of a high-range electric car that my fiancée and I could afford. So I called my local Chevrolet dealer, the neighbor of a friend, and ordered a Bolt EV when the first orders were processed.

I should point out that I'm not new to electric cars. I leased a 2013 Ford Focus Electric, and now have a Fiat 500e for my college-age daughter—and a 500e for me.

My fiancée drives a 2005 Toyota Prius she purchased new, and that's what we want to replace with a higher-range electric car.

When I first shopped for EVs, there were few choices, and none that went over 100 miles that weren’t named Tesla.

I just couldn't live with the Nissan Leaf look, so I went with the "Model S for the rest of us": the Focus Electric. The Fiats were an easy purchase. If Fiat was practically giving these cars away, why resist?

2017 Nissan Leaf

2017 Nissan Leaf

But times have changed. A 100-mile electric car is a great second car. Everyone should have one, especially in California, where the prices are, shall we say, competitive.

But we needed a primary car that was expected to be convenient.

We wanted an all-electric car that would take us on a trip to the mountains or to San Diego or Palm Springs without the need to recharge on the way. 

The Bolt was the EV answer to our needs, so I ordered a Bolt EV Premier, with nearly every option.

The car doesn't yet come with automatic emergency braking above 37 mph. Okay, but it really should be standard equipment—or at least optional on all versions.

Beyond low-speed automatic braking, there is no automated driving features. The blind-spot alert lets you know when a car is in the lane you're about to merge into. The full camera vision is really helpful when parallel parking.

Doug Kerr, daughter Andie Kerr, fiancee Barbara Gleason; Fiat 500e, Ford Focus Electric, Fiat 500e

Doug Kerr, daughter Andie Kerr, fiancee Barbara Gleason; Fiat 500e, Ford Focus Electric, Fiat 500e

I am a fanatic when it comes to buying a new car. This was the first car that I l was about to purchase without actually seeing. I had photos, but no real car.

Finally, in mid-February, the dealer called me to say I could take delivery. When we showed up, the sad news was that our Bolt EV was in the shop. It hadn’t taken a charge that morning.

The good news was that another Bolt was there for us to take for a long test drive. The dealer handed the keys to my fiancée and me and told us to take it out, by ourselves. Fun!

Both of us had the same first impression of the Bolt: it’s a toaster. Well, an aerodynamic toaster, at least. The transition to production eradicated any sporty factor.

It is, however, very practical. When we hopped inside, it was sort of like a Harry Potter movie where the tent is small on the outside, but enormous on the inside.

Putting a flat battery pack under the floorboards opens up huge amounts of space, while the electric motor takes very little room up front.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

If you compare the Bolt to a normal gasoline car, you'll see that engine takes up a lot of space that the Bolt uses for the interior instead.

I drove first, and headed straight for the freeway. While the Bolt lost its sporty EV identity in production, it did not lose any of that sportiness in handling or acceleration.

If you haven’t driven an electric car, you are missing what true acceleration means. Put the pedal to the floor in a gas car, and everyone around you has been notified of your lack of civility.

This makes the Bolt EV that much more fun accelerating to 60 mph on Harbor Boulevard. Freeway on-ramps are a breeze, and the handling is crisp and sure.

As an experienced electric-car driver, I love the regenerative braking option that allows one-pedal driving. I tried to explain to my fiancée that it was like driving the Autopia cars at Disneyland. No brake. She still couldn’t like it.

The one real technological negative was the electronic shifter. I suppose owner will get used to it, but finding reverse requires a tutorial for the uninitiated.

The Bolt's interior is quiet: road and any tire noise is all but erased.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Ah, yes ... the interior. I had seen it in photos, but I was still disappointed in person. Sure, some corners had to be cut in order to package all of this technology into a reasonable price.

So am I too picky when I say I hate all the hard plastics and the lack of refinement in the interior? The huge 10.2” display looks really cool, and the dash is a technological dream.

But cheap chic only works in retro cars like the 500e. It doesn’t work in the Bolt.

In the final analysis, it turns out that both my fiancée and I want an electric car that's simply less dorky.

My critique of the Bolt styling still holds so far as the unwelcome changes from the concept.

We have a Tesla Model 3 on order, and expect to pay $5,000 to $7,000 more for the Model 3 with similar range than we would have given the sticker price of almost $42,000 on the Bolt.

Tesla Model 3 design prototype - reveal event - March 2016

Tesla Model 3 design prototype - reveal event - March 2016

Hopefully, the upcoming Tesla volume car will be worth the premium. It certainly looks sportier.

Maybe it's time for a little more sportiness—and a lot less dorkiness—among electric cars.


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