‘Bolt’-ing toward independence from oil

Despite the fact that there are 10 different affordable (sorry Tesla) all-electric cars on the market today, battery EV sales were extremely low in 2015 — making up less than one quarter of 1 percent of total vehicles sold. This was likely due to a combination of low gas prices and the false fear of range anxiety.

Where gas prices will go from here — either down to $20 a barrel, or up to $250 a barrel, or somewhere in between — is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, Chevrolet is looking to end the range-anxiety argument once and for all with an affordable car that can go for days on a single charge.

I’m talking about the Chevy Bolt. Priced at $30,000 after federal tax credits and sporting a range of 200 miles, the Bolt is deserving of its title of “The People’s Electric Car.” And it’s not just the price and range that have people talking, the Bolt’s spacious interior, sub-seven-second 0-60 speed, and overall build quality turned heads when it was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this month.

Going on sale toward the end of this year, the Bolt has the potential to be a real game-changer for the electric vehicle (EV) market by giving people who have been longing for a Tesla a more reasonably priced alternative. Or, in simpler terms, it’s opening the up EV marketplace to the middle class.

In doing so, Chevy is moving EVs further into the mainstream and, perhaps more importantly, pushing other car makers to do the same. And, ultimately, they’re eroding the stereotype that EVs are just toys for “rich white guys.”

That’s a big deal. Because if we want to end our oil addiction sooner rather than later — and with all the harm it causes, we do — electric vehicles are going to need to start increasing their market share of the transportation sector. Less than 1 percent of vehicles on the road isn’t going to cut it.

Obviously, EVs won’t be able to go it alone; we’re going to need a combination of solutions: biofuels, natural gas vehicles, and more efficient internal combustion engines as well. But for EVs to begin pulling their weight in our fight toward oil independence, they’re going to need to become viable options for more than 1 percent of Americans.

That’s exactly what the Bolt could be — a high-quality, long range, viable option for tens of millions of Americans.

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