Tested: electric vehicle that drives like a ‘dodgem car’ and doesn’t need
brakes, the Chevrolet Bolt
October 5, 2017  Joshua Dowling

[images  / Supplied
The Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle can be driven without touching the
brakes and using only the accelerator pedal, just like a dodgem car
The Chevrolet Bolt electric car has hot hatch performance, but takes up to
9.5 hours to recharge
The Chevrolet Bolt electric car has a choice of driving modes, one of which
means you never need to touch the brakes

HOLDEN has two hi-tech electric vehicles in Australia for testing that could
change the way we drive.

The Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle can be driven without touching the
brakes and using only the accelerator pedal, just like a dodgem car.
Picture: Supplied.Source:Supplied

HOLDEN is planning to introduce an electric vehicle that is as simple to
drive as a dodgem car — and if you’re prepared to take a leap of faith you
may never need to apply the brakes.

The Chevrolet Bolt looks like an ordinary hatchback except it is powered by
an electric motor with enough battery power to travel almost 400km between

Aside from its surprisingly zippy acceleration — it’s almost as quick as a
turbocharged VW Golf GTI hot hatch — it has one other cool feature that
could change the way we drive cars of the future.

In one driving mode it uses the electric motor to slow the vehicle so
dramatically you don’t need to apply the brakes.

All you need to do is ease off the throttle and the car will brake heavily
enough to apply the brake lights — just like a dodgem car which has only one

The technology is so effective it will even remain stopped at a set of
lights without the driver needing to touch the brake pedal.

The only control needed is the accelerator pedal: push down for go and lift
off to brake or come to a complete stop.

The boss of Chevrolet electric vehicles, Darin Gesse, says it’s “like a
bumper car” -- what Americans call dodgem cars.

“They’re a one-pedal operation, you either go or stop depending on how you
use the one pedal,” says Gesse. “It’s exactly the same philosophy with this

You can, of course, slam the brakes at any time. However, on our brief test
drive in Detroit it wasn’t necessary.

After a short while it actually felt better to drive in “dodgem car mode”
than in normal mode — without testing the cushion in the bumpers, of course.

Providing you keep an eye on the traffic lights ahead — and keep a safe
distance from the car in front — you can bring the Chevrolet Bolt to a stop
by simply reducing the pressure on the accelerator pedal.

It means you don’t need to pivot your right foot between accelerator and
brake pedals. You can just drive the car on the throttle.

Driving the Chevrolet Bolt this way saves about 5 per cent of energy because
it recharges the battery pack more aggressively than if you coasted to a

It also means you may never need to replace the brake pads for the life of
the vehicle.

“You’re not touching the brake pads so they (customers) may never see brake
maintenance in the life of the vehicle,” says Gesse.

The Chevrolet Bolt electric car is left-hand-drive only for now, but Holden
is likely to get the next one due in 2022. 

The Chevrolet Bolt sells for $37,500 plus taxes and on-road costs in the US,
the equivalent of about $50,000 in Australia.

For now it is only being built in left-hand-drive for the US. Holden would
not disclose if or when an electric car will go on sale locally.

However, General Motors this week said it plans to roll out two dozen
electric cars globally over the next five years.

This new push means the next generation Bolt due in 2022 is likely to be
built in right-hand-drive, making it available to Holden dealerships in

The price of the technology at that stage is anyone’s guess, but General
Motors is aiming to make electric cars more affordable.

Electric vehicles currently make up 0.6 per cent of new-car sales in
Australia, but Holden believes the market will grow.

“Australia may be a little bit behind when it comes to electric cars at the
moment but we need to make sure we’re ready for them,” said Holden spokesman
Sean Poppitt.

Holden said it has two examples of the Bolt electric car in Australia for
evaluation and to help bring government agencies up to speed on the

Plug in cars are not in demand in Australia but Holden thinks that will
change next decade. 

While the Bolt has more driving range than the average electric car — up to
383km in ideal conditions — it still takes up to nine-and-a-half hours to
recharge from empty.

However, General Motors claims 97 per cent of customers say the range
exceeds their expectations and about half of the 14,000 owners so far only
recharge the vehicle once every three days. One in five owners stretch to
five days or more before recharging.

It is understood General Motors does not make a profit on the Bolt — but it
pays dividends because it has introduced new customers to the Chevrolet

About 70 per cent of Bolt buyers have never owned a Chevrolet before.

“We don’t talk about profitability on the vehicle but we do find that
there’s more than just profits, there’s expanding our horizons and expanding
our customer base,” says Gesse.

“We know 85 per cent of (Bolt owners) have another vehicle in the garage,
and it’s most likely an SUV, and we have plenty of those to offer them when
that vehicle comes in for its trade in,” he said.
Bumper cars or dodgems is the generic name for a type of flat ride
consisting of several small electrically powered cars which draw power from
the floor and/or ...

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