The controversial and mysterious development of the Chevrolet Bolt EV and the Opel Ampera-e


The new Bolt and Ampera-e are the bet electrical final GM.

just a few days Ago, General Motors revealed at last the figure of autonomy of its new Chevrolet Bolt, and Opel Ampera-e electric. With more than 400 kms of range in the best of cases, according to figures approved provided by the brands, the new protagonists of the segment electric promise to be prominent parts of this new niche in the market, which is gradually filling up and taking the importance which it predicts to this new technology.

These models are the final response of General Motors to electric mobility, after the failed attempt of the Volt and its derivatives, the Ampera, and ELR, an electric extended-range seemed more like a timid approach to this new segment, and that despite having the approval of media and users, has not arrived to catch on in the market. Worse in the case of the versions of Opel and Cadillac, the latter even has already been removed just this year.

Their successors, the new Bolt and Ampera-e, not only promises greater performance, but will benefit from a price is in theory more competitive, although this has not yet been revealed. However, the differences of these with its predecessor technology do not end here, because unlike the media development and launch of the Chevy Volt in the first generation, the new models has been extremely quiet and discreet, despite being called to revolutionize the segment.


Chevrolet Volt, an electric extended-range according to GM.

If, during the phases prior to the launch of the Volt, the machinery of marketing of General Motors, we are bombed with all kinds of data and news of the new model, with its successors we have lived exactly the opposite. Its development and subsequent presentation have been more discrete, stealthy. After the words of the leaders of GM announcing it a few years ago, we did not see or knew nothing about it until the presentation in Detroit 2015 of the Bolt EV concept, which was followed just a year after the presentation of the production version in Detroit 2016.

prior to that, little more, since GM has been quite cryptic and closed with respect to these models. Which contrasts a lot with the hue and cry that rose up the first statements that confirmed the development of the model, there by 2013. In September of that year, Dan Akersson, still CEO of GM and to a few months to be succeeded by Mary Bar, revealed that the corporation would launch a new electric vehicle that, with a price of around $ 30,000, would be able to reach 200 miles of range, about 321 kms.

At that time, and despite the fact that you have spent only a few years, these figures were plain and simple astronomical. As an example, the model 2013 Volt had enhanced the autonomy in electric mode, pure-and yet just beyond the 60 km of autonomy in the approval of the us. The only thing that at that time were few similar figures was the Model S of Tesla, the newcomer to the market the previous year and that it had 335 kms of range in the basic version of 60 kWh, but with a price several times higher than predicted by Akersson. So obviously, some american media did not believe him. Since these figures as described by the very own CEO of GM would be “launch direct to the moon”.


Dan Akersson next to the Chevy Volt.

At that time General Motors was in the limelight for many other reasons, as the arrival of Mary Barra following the decision to continue in the charge of Akersson, the then-recent removal of Chevrolet in Europe or the closure of manufacturing in Australia, so these statements were taken more as an attempt to provoke positive publicity that as a real ad.

But in order to get to those figures so there was only one problem to resolve, the capacity of the batteries, and there is where it really becomes interesting to the project Bolt. Because as we well know now, the words of Akersson were based on tangible facts, although it is well-unknown the story behind the development of the model.

When Akersson revealed in 2013 with the intentions of throwing on Bolt, General Motors was demanding precisely to a small technology company in Newark, California, whose primary mission was precisely to research and development in the area of batteries. This company, called Envia Systems, received a strong investment of GM in 2011 for the development of a new type of battery with much greater energy density than conventional and at a price significantly lower. As seen in the image file, Send this already announced on its website exactly similar and surprising data as Akersson revealed in 2013.


Old promotional image of Envia Systems.

But at that time, the agreement signed in 2012 had already been broken and GM claimed in their lawsuits that the company had misrepresented the facts during the signing of the same. The batteries that promised no one knew anything, and if outside little, one of the founding partners and responsible engineer of the new technology, the origin of which had already triggered yet another complaint of the company that this worked previously, left Envia Systems shortly after. Given these facts, GM just stated that the new project of electric vehicle had two lines of research with different providers, so the project went ahead, without more data.

The answer came the following summer, when LG Chem announced finally the development of a new battery technology that would allow a range of autonomy of some 200 miles and that would be ready for production in 2016. Although he did not specify for which vehicles could be developing, what is certain is that the majority of media automatically associated to the project of General Motors, and not only because LG outside provider of the trademarks of GM, but because the data comport with the announcement of Akersson of the previous year.

This was the first definitive sign not already of the arrival of the new Bolt EV production, but the evidence palpable of the existence of the project, to which many still saw smoke. However, half a year later, in January of 2015 Chevrolet introduced the Bolt EV concept, when pushed definitely all the doubts that had been generated in the previous months.


Chevrolet Bolt EV concept of 2015.

In terms of Envia Systems, not only is still active, announcing its new battery technology, in addition to received a strong investment of the USABC, an organization formed by the big three american manufacturers, Ford, Chrysler and GM, just to the development of new battery technologies. Although we do not know if it’s really the batteries that they advertise on their section of products that are already installed on a device, and particularly, that happened with which they had previously signed with GM.

Incidentally, the announcement of the investment of the USABC, 7.7 million dollars, was conducted in July of 2014, the same time that the announcement of the new batteries from LG Chem.

What we do know is that in a short time, both Chevy as Opel, premiered in
their dealers the new electric models with batteries signed
by LG, and even Vauxhall is already doing numbers to study
the introduction in Great Britain
your own version.


X-ray of the Ampera-e, Opel.

Another of the curiosities of the Bolt is their own platform. Generally, manufacturers tend to use different platforms for different product ranges, being the cornerstone of the development of each model. It is normal that all models of similar dimensions using the same platform within a brand or a group, forming families of models whose common origin is the platform on which they are based, however, the new Bolt is not currently associated with any platform or family of models existing in any brand of GM.

Although initially attributed to belong to the family of Gamma II, name of the platform that used models of similar size, such as the Chevrolet Spark, Buick Encore or Opel Mokka, what is certain, is that the GM has denied such a thing recently, stating that the Bolt does not share or elements or platform with this family models, and what is more striking, the platform that employs didn’t even have a name. At least officially.

more Specifically, it was normal to hear that the new Bolt was based on the latest generation of the platform Gamma, called G2SC and that will give life to the upcoming Chevrolet Sonic and the Opel Corsa F. however, recent statements from various spokespersons GM to GreenCarReports claim otherwise, because, according to the brand, “The program Bolt EV is originated in the architecture Gamma, but then grew into its own architecture—even keeping the same code G2.”


technical Outline of the Bolt, with the battery pack between the axles.

Initially, it was thought, that the project code of the Bolt was G2KCZ, which translates as the second generation of the platform Gamma (G2), body hatchback (K), Chevrolet (C) and power (Z). However, according to GM, this designation is not correct, for the moment, it seems that either does not exist or GM prefers not to disclose that information. The response of the corporation to the name of the platform is a succinct “usually we do not disclose the internal codes of projects”.

finally, their own name also caused many headaches to some departments of General Motors, because he was denied the patent of that denomination on two occasions.

That name had already been previously registered by two companies, a manufacturer of cabs for trucks and trailers, Bolt Custom Trucks, and Yamaha. That employed him to name one of the models of its north american subsidiary Star Motorcycles, dedicated to selling models of the segment cruiser to compete with Harley-Davidson in your market.


the production Version of the Chevrolet Bolt 2017.

however, Star Motorcycles is the next to disappear and all its models are already available from the catalog routine from Yamaha.

the next launch of The Bolt suggests that GM has managed to get some
type of agreement
with these companies, though, is that since
your presentation, the name Bolt, was not well received by his
end like with the name Volt, Chevy, electric, extended-range.