The pure electric Chevrolet Bolt SUV concept revealed this week in Detroit might be the most significant job ever undertaken by Holden’s Melbourne-based design and fabrication team, according to General Motors International vice-president of design Mike Simcoe.
Australian native Simcoe, who has served previously as Holden’s design chief, told us in Detroit this week that the all-electric crossover concept with a proposed 320km range and $US30,000 sticker price promised to be a “game changer” for GM if and when it reaches production.
“Real people with real lives can use this car, you can’t really do that if you’re driving a Tesla,” Simcoe, who overseas design in GM’s US and Korean studios, said.
“…In that respect it’s a game changer, this will change the industry, we have the capacity to do this, so if we (GM) did one for real, this would be probably the most significant job we’ve done, the most influential.”
In his time, Simcoe has overseen genesis of the VT Commodore and WH Statesman/Caprice model ranges, as well as the VE Commodore.
Holden’s design and fabrication studio in Melbourne, meanwhile, has been responsible for a long line of domestic and international product, the most recent of which was the 2014 Chevrolet Adra. Also its handiwork was the classical Buick Avenir revealed this week, also in Detroit in a double-hit of publicity.
Simcoe’s sentiments perhaps unsurprisingly echo those of GM CEO Mary Barra (who has personally guaranteed Holden Design’s future) and, as such, the fact that the motor show concept car was designed and built in Holden’s advanced studios in Fisherman’ Bend represent a significant feather in the cap of the local team.
As we know, Holden Design is one of only two places within GM capable of fabricating show cars such as the Bolt, while it also regularly provides input on various global designs. This is a role that will continue in perpetuity beyond the end of local manufacturing in 2017.
In short, given Holden is keen to remind Australians that at least its design and engineering presence will remain beyond this decade and contribute to the world stage. The Bolt could scarcely have been a more high-profile concept to prove the point. It's not series manufacturing but it's better than nothing.
You’ll also see the lines and distinctive proportions on this Bolt concept both carry over in a large degree to the almost inevitable production model, as well as in more watered-down form on various other Chevrolet product around the globe, further extending Australia’s influence.
Read a more detailed story on the background of the Bolt’s design, its origins dating back to 2013 and our interviews with various Holden designers in Detroit here.
Full technical details have not been discussed yet, given the show car is just a concept. But GM has opened up about some elements of the car.
Bolt drivers will be able to select operating modes designed around preferred driving styles such as daily commuting and spirited weekend cruising. The modes adjust accelerator pedal mapping, vehicle ride height and suspension tuning. The EV also supports DC fast charging.
Unlike the design and fabrication, the EV tech was handled by GM’s home team in the US, and the promised range of 320km is laudable. Unlike the Volt, revealed today in second generation guise, the Bolt is a pure EV with batteries in the floor, not a plug-in hybrid.
The shape of the Bolt allows it a roomy looking cabin, with a flat floor further enhancing the space. Interior treatments include slimline seats, a floating centre console, and a 10.0-inch touchscreen interface.
Tech highlights include the Bolt EV Connect app that allows a smartphone to double as a key to the car, while the app also works as a ride-sharing hub – according to GM it can process reservations, vehicle location and payments. The concept can also park itself, with the smartphone operator using the app to summon the car back to their location.