When Chevrolet announced a $6,000-$25,600 price cut for the Chevrolet Bolt electric car earlier this year, the electric car choice went from good to great. It’s an EV sports hatchback with a five-star safety rating, 259 actual miles, plenty of room inside, and a great interior.
So good that I decided to do the unthinkable: buy it for my 70 year old mom. That’s the problem.
For the record, I’ve owned mostly Teslas since 2013 (S, X, 3, Y) and one of the things I love the most about the experience is not having to deal with a car dealer. I rented a 2017 Chevrolet Bolt from 2017 to 2020 and really liked the car, but again, I didn’t like the dealer experience on both ends of the Bolt ownership. I discuss this issue in my Bolt Ownership Review.
With the help of Chevrolet, we found the Bolt on our way to Serpentini Chevrolet in Northeast Ohio at MSRP. I remember their commercials as a child – “American and amazing!” – and although the name sounds like “snake” in Italian, they have been around for a long time.
I spoke to the seller there about my requirements. “Only the car, please. No updates. No maintenance plan. Nothing.” We quickly agreed. One of the benefits of not being around is that I don’t have to go to the dealership to deal with waiting, paperwork, and of course, extra sales and bidding.
After a short delay, the car reached the parking lot. After deducting taxes, destination and other typical miscellaneous charges, the $26,500 Bolt EV price has risen to over $28,692.04. Backward Ohio has no EV incentives and actually charges an additional $200 annual registration fee to discourage EV incentives. This kind of thinking is about getting the seers to pack up and go to the coast – I digress.
I transferred the money to the dealer’s bank account and told my mom and brother they were covered in plates and ready to pick them up the next day. Calling the insurance company and adding it to their plan, they went to the dealership the next day.
Did I mention that dealers suck? They do it almost everywhere. When I picked up my car in 2017, I almost forgot how bad my experience in New York was. Salespeople in Ohio decided to hit my 70-year-old mom, who knows so little about cars, let alone electric cars, with crappy maintenance plans. (Free oil change!) According to her, this is not a choice – just a choice between what is more expensive and what is more expensive. She wrote a check for almost $2,000 even though I paid for the car and told them I didn’t need any of their BS maintenance plans. My brother called me and told me what happened.
I picked up the phone and started yelling at those cockroaches because apparently a customer who wanted cash for a car they couldn’t see wasn’t enough of a gift – they needed to try and steal a few weeks before they retired. Living widow’s money. I’m not mad yet, I swear.
Commendable (?). They tore up my mom’s check pretty quickly and apologized, I think they have a system in place to encourage this behavior. In addition, Serpentini initially offered the car at MSRP, which was not bad for the time. Call Chris for help.
After the deleted scene I arranged, they quickly informed my mom and brother about the car. Mom timidly drove the car home, but quickly figured out the car. She’s from a 2010 Prius, so it’s the same day and night.
A truly genius move, Chevrolet is offering $500 in EVgo fast-charging credits or $1,000 to install a Qmerit home EV charger as part of a Bolt purchase. This will help new EV owners get back on their feet and I’m happy to have a Level 2 charger installed in my childhood home.
Unfortunately, Qmerit never responded to the request for an order, and almost a month after buying the machine, I had to intervene again. I called Qmerit and they said the dealer never approved the work order. I called the dealer again and they said they sent the order to Qmerit. I called the Chevrolet concierge, hoping to mediate, but everyone kept blaming each other. In the end, I set up a three-way conference call and told them all that the call was not over until someone took charge of it.
I eventually found someone at Qmerit to lead and manage the operations of the project. He manually got approval from the dealership and found an installer near the dealership but 30 miles from my mom’s house. The original estimate was $2,500 (so we paid $1,500). The necessary device is included, since the 80A switch box is almost full. We have a decommissioned hot tub circuit breaker so this was not necessary.
I discussed installation with a local electrician and he said it would cost $500 to install, about $250 for parts and $250 for labor. Checks are sold separately.
I got a second installer from Qmerit to offer for $1600 which is still more than if our local guys did it. I showed the Qmerit program manager a $500 estimate and ended up with an estimate of just under $1,000, which Chevrolet made up with a generous offer. A few days later, a 240V plug was installed.
So both the dealer and Qmerit lost the ball early, so it was my turn to fail. I was under the impression that both the Bolt EV and EUV came with a 240V level 2 charging cable (Webasto Go OEM). As it turns out, the Bolt EUV comes standard, while the EV comes in at $295. The Bolt EV came with an old 120v level 1 charger so my mom didn’t have access to a 240v outlet like I thought. I should remember this from my 2017 Bolt EV, but I guess I’m just guessing it’s a holdover from the Chevrolet Volt era that should have been fixed by now.
She doesn’t drive much and works great with a 110V charger at around 4 mph. That equates to about 60 miles without use in 15 hours, almost more than she does in a day.
I sent one of these adapters and it allows the level 1 charger that comes with the Bolt EV to accept 240V (x12A) and charge it at almost 3kW, which means a full charge (65kWh) can be achieved in 24 hours. By the end of the month, I plan to have a suitable 240V Level 2 charging option there. I wonder how much GM will save by putting a Level 1 charger in the car compared to the $295 Level 2 charger option. I’m pretty sure people would rather pay extra for a more useful charger, especially with Qmerit installed.
After a few weeks, initial hesitation gave way to outright love for the little car. Something she didn’t know she would like:
Last weekend in Ohio, I compared the F-150 Lightning to my mom’s Chevrolet Bolt. Obviously the difference is huge. The range is similar, double that of the F-150 battery. It feels like Bolt could fit in the back of an F-150 (but can’t). @electrekco story coming soon pic.twitter.com/tI3mVdo0xy
It’s not an easy journey, but it’s worth it. In my opinion, the dealer experience is still terrible compared to EV players like Tesla, Lucid and Rivian. I’m not even sure it can be fixed. Ford and Volvo/Polestar are trying to spin off their EV groups to take the pain out of dealers. Chevrolet and Ford told me they were trying to liquidate dealers and threatened them with markups. But they still breed. My best advice to consumers is to shut your nose and let the dealer experience be over. Try to do as much as you can by phone or email and be vigilant when you pick up your car.
But the end product of the Bolt EV is great even for someone like my mom who isn’t overly interested in learning new technologies or changing how she works. Yes, the Bolt EV has some minor flaws, like slow 54kW DC fast charging, slippery front-wheel drive, and lack of luxury. But for every negative, there are many positives. For my mom, who rarely (if ever) makes trips over 250 miles, fast charging is moot.
I was once interested in renting a Bolt, so I called and emailed every dealer near me asking for an estimate price and terms for a base model. They all refused to give me any numbers but insisted that I should go to the dealership to “discuss what I need”. This is during the worst covid outbreak ever. I’m no longer interested in renting or buying a Bolt or any Chevy, for that matter.
I had the opportunity to drive her Bolt electric car (which is ridiculously large compared to a Ford F-150) as I drove around town. It is an absolute pleasure, especially when driving around the city and parking. So much so that I think I might get one of my own.
Publisher and editor-in-chief of the 9to5/Electrek website. Owners of the Tesla Model 3, X and Chevy Bolt… 5 e-bikes and the number keeps growing
Post time: Oct-17-2022