Bill Mattos, One of the First Three Bolt Owners

There’s a lot of excitement over Chevrolet’s award-winning new Bolt EV. Chevrolet promised to begin deliveries in December of 2016, and on December 13, in Fremont, California, three lucky customers drove their Bolts home. One of them was Bill Mattos, a retired law enforcement officer, who happens to live right there in town.

It turns out that Bill has been an EV enthusiast for a long time, since he got a rare opportunity to drive GM’s EV1 back in 1999.

“I was taking my Saturn to the dealership and saw this strange-looking car plugged in there,” said Bill. “It was the EV1. They let me drive it and we burned up a lot of electrons. I was blown away.”

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Bill couldn’t buy or lease one—the waiting list was long, and GM notoriously cancelled the EV1 program—but he decided then that as soon as GM offered another EV, he’d be one of the first people to get one.

He got his chance when the diminutive Chevrolet Spark EV came out.

“I really liked the Spark’s acceleration, and it was easy to get in and out of,” Bill said. “But there was the 85-mile range, and while I enjoyed riding in the HOV lane, I sometimes felt a little intimidated by the big cars.”

Bill’s next EV was the larger Chevrolet Volt—a hybrid. He got the second-generation 2016 model. But not long after, he read about the upcoming all-electric Bolt and got excited.

“It sounded like a Spark on steroids,” he said. “I read everything I could find about it.”

And, Bill told the folks at Fremont Chevrolet to let him know immediately when they started taking orders so he could be the first one on the list. And that’s just what they did. On October 2, Bill drove down to Fremont Chevrolet and placed his order.

As it turns out, Fremont Chevrolet is the top EV seller in the Bay Area (and Fremont also happens to be where EV rival Tesla’s plant is located). So, when GM decided to deliver the first three Bolts there, Bill got a call to come on down and pick up his car. The dealership sent a car for him, since he would be driving his Bolt home.

“They had a whole lot of Bolts there, but most were going to other dealers for demo cars,” said Bill. “I originally ordered a silver one, but since I was getting to be first in line, I chose the red one, which included the fast charge port.”

The dignitaries presented Bill with his car, showed him how the features worked, and he was on his way. (Photo courtesy of Fremont Chevrolet. Bill Mattos, left, with Ron Meier, Chevrolet Western Regional Manager.)

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Bill really likes the car so far.

“It feels bigger inside than it looks on the outside, and it’s easy to get in and out of,” he says. “And the acceleration is great, although all EVs have that.”

Bill likes the ergonomics of the new Bolt, and how, with its 238-mile range, he doesn’t have to plug it in every night.

He’s had a few challenges using the new displays, but Bill knows it’s just an initial adjustment—and part of being an EV pioneer.

If you’re in the Fremont area and have a hankering for a new Bolt, contact Kurt Mietz, Fleet and Commercial Specialist, at Fremont Chevrolet. Call 650-766-7777 or email to: kurtm@cacargroup.com.

Chevy Bolt Anticipation

img_6908It’s two days before Christmas (and one before the first night of Chanukah). Anticipation is in the air. But I’ve been in a state of anticipation since October 11, when I ordered my Chevrolet Bolt.

As an auto writer, I’m always driving someone else’s car for an article, but I decided that this car is the one I want for me. I think it will be ideal for my needs–even if I’m only spending part of my time driving it.

What I’m trying to learn now is patience. It’s one thing to walk into a dealership, stroll around the lot, find a car you like, and then sit down and negotiate to drive it home. It’s another thing to order a car you’ve never actually seen or even driven and wait. You hope it’ll be as good as you’ve heard.

I did manage to get down to the San Francisco Auto Show in November and see a Bolt (see photo above). It was, amazingly, the same color I ordered, and I walked around it, talked with people about it, sat in it, got out, sat in it again, and hovered around it for a while.

I also visited a dealership and drove one. I was pleased that the experience behind the wheel (and in the back seat) was as good as I’d hoped. Having the car win awards right out of the chute was encouraging, too, making me feel like I was making the right choice.

The ordering process itself was simple. I went into the dealership and specified what I wanted–color, features, etc. Then, I waited to hear that the order was submitted. Then, I waited to be informed that the factory had received it. After that, it took a while to find out that the factory was preparing to build the car. Then, I learned that it was built but awaiting transport.

Today, I found out that my Bolt is on its way to California on a train. When it arrives here, it’ll go to a distribution center to be checked out before being trucked over the dealership. When it’ll arrive at Boardwalk Chevrolet in Redwood City is uncertain, but my great salesman emailed me today he may be able to track the progress of the train. That should be interesting.

I wish they could show you your car being built at the factory. I wish they put a little camera with a homing device on it, so you could follow its progress. We’re used to tracking our Amazon purchases from the moment it’s shipped to the minute it lands on your doorstep, so what do you say, Chevy?

Am I being obsessive? I still have a schedule of test cars into the middle of January, and am not giving up my column. But this is only the third time I’ve ordered a car–the second one for my own use–and it’s taking longer than I thought.

It’s definitely a team sport. The Chevy Bolt EV Owners Group on Facebook is approaching 1,000 members. I expect not every single person in that group will sign a purchase agreement or lease, but there’s a real groundswell of interest. As a journalist, I’m hoping to put a real public face on this car, and I plan to take it as far as it’ll go.

A few days ago, I ordered my home charger from ChargePoint. I’ll get it installed and ready for when I need it. I’m hoping to open up some space in my garage during the holiday break, but I’m getting a long enough cord that it’ll reach outside too, if necessary.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, my family will open gifts, and we’ll have a great time together. But my real gift is still on its way. The exquisite pain of waiting makes it all the more exciting.

My Chevrolet Bolt – Pending Production

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As wait for my Chevrolet Bolt to arrive, I’ve joined two Facebook Chevrolet Bolt groups and other forums. I’m learning more about how cars are built.

I’ve ordered two cars before. The first was my Saturn, back in 1990, and I heard nothing until it was there to pick up. I think I may have simply received a car that matched my request, rather than having it custom assembled for me at the factory. Another time, I ordered a car for my wife. They said it would be two months and it ended up being six weeks. But I never had any idea of the flow.

So, in this day of instant information, I was expecting to hear from my salesman that my car was getting loaded on the truck and was on its way. But so far, no news.

Then, I read on a forum about the Chevrolet Live Chat line, and tried that. Presto! In a few seconds I found out that my car, with its six-digit alphanumeric ID number, was in the Broadcast status–meaning they have set up the computer at the plant to build it. The Targeted Production Week (TPW) is next week–12/12/16. I signed up to get weekly updates, too.

I’m a little disappointed, because that means the car could arrive in January, but there’s really nothing I can do about it. I didn’t put the absolute first order in (my salesman said he had a bunch of them already), so I’ll just wait. There’s not really any rush, is there?

There’s a lot of talk about the Bolt, with it winning awards and all. I’ve even see the electric billboard on my commute showing it as the Motor Trend Car of the Year winner! But I’m personally feeling anxious for it to get here. I sure don’t want them to rush it, though. And what if they build it tomorrow? Isn’t “made on a Monday” bad luck? (just kidding).

More as it happens.

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Chevrolet Bolts are In Production!

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Finally, the assembly line is running at the General Motors Orion Assembly Plant in Orion, Michigan, and Bolts are moving slowly down the line.

The news story I found mentions the sad news that only California and Oregon will get cars before the end of the year, but luckily for me, I’m in California, and my order is in, so I am hoping to see my car something before the end of the year.

It’s an interesting experience in 2016, when instant gratification is the norm, to have to wait for anything. I knew that I wanted an EV, and I knew that the Bolt was the only realistic choice, since it’s (relatively) affordable and has a great range, with its big 60 kWh battery. So, I dashed down to place my order.

But nearly a month in, waiting feels as interminable as the conclusion of the 2016 election. While the latter event is literally right around the corner, I’m not sure when I’ll see my Bolt. And, I’m not sure exactly how much it’s going to cost me on a monthly basis.

Figuring that my car would be with me at least 30 months, I went for the nicer Premier model, with a few upgrades, like leather seats, and upgraded the stereo and safety features, so it’s $43,000 or so before they take the $7,500 off for the Federal tax credit. Then, there’s California money coming to me too, $2,500 worth, as I understand it. But I’ll have to decide how much to put down to keep those payments reasonable.

I’m also turning in my ancient 1993 Plymouth Voyager minivan, my occasional car that will now go to gas car heaven. I plan to put it out to pasture when I’m assured of my Bolt delivery date.

I haven’t bought myself a new car since November of 1990, when I got my Saturn. It was exciting to sell my Honda and buy a new car that was a brand new brand, too. I was the first guy on my block to have one, and I got some attention. I even got noticed by Hal Riney and Partners, who had the Saturn account, so I ended up on the cover of the 1994 Saturn brochures!

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Look at all that nice dark hair. And I’m posing with my first son, who’s now a grownup father of two. 🙂

My Chevy salesman says he’ll keep me posted on the progress, so I will, at some point, know the status of the build and when it gets put onto a transporter truck for its western trip. Watch this space for updates.

And, visit my new venue, Clean Fleet Report, for my EV and hybrid writings.

 

 

Chevy Bolt – Clean Car from a Green Factory

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I’m waiting  for my Chevrolet Bolt to be built. As of October 24, the order is submitted to the factory and accepted by production control, according to my salesman, Don Mays.

So–what kind of factory does GM have in Orion, Michigan? Well, the General Motors Orion Assembly Plant gets more than half its energy from methane from decomposing trash, and has a 350-watt solar array. That’s pretty impressive!

One of the arguments is, why not just use your old car–it’s already built? Why spend all the energy to make new ones? If the factory runs efficiently, there’s less cost to driving a new electric car. It’s a complicated story, and we’ll keep following it.

Meanwhile, I’ll be waiting for the next installment from Chevy.

 

My Chevy Bolt – The Story Begins

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On Tuesday, October 11, 2016, I stepped into Boardwalk  Chevrolet and sat down with Don Mays to order my own Chevrolet Bolt. This very specific step is the beginning of my second electric car adventure, one that I expect to change the way I write about cars.

Ever since I heard about the Bolt–GM’s 200+ mile all-electric car–I’ve been fascinated with it, and followed all the news reports on it closely. Also, over time, I’ve become convinced that electric cars are a major part of our future transportation solution for working to limit the effects of climate change.

From January to April of this year, I spent a delightful three months with a darling baby blue Fiat 500e, which I named Fidelio. He and I commuted and dashed about town together without using a drop of gas, and it was a very happy experience. However, Fidelio’s 90-mile range was the one down side. So, when I learned that the Bolt would offer more than 200 miles, I was sold.

Don tells me that the order will be placed, and that, as production moves along, he’ll be able to tell me when my car is made and track its progress from the Orion, Michigan plant to Milpitas, CA. Then, it will go onto a truck and be sent to the dealership in Redwood City, CA. Expected arrival? Around Christmas time, if I’m lucky. But it sounds like the West Coast gets the first allocations, and that’s where I live.

I’ve ordered cars before, but never without test driving one. I was one of the first Saturn owners, back in November of 1990. My family also bought one of the first Corvairs, in 1960. So I guess it’s a family tradition to try out new GM experiments.

By the way, I ordered my car as the upper level Premier, in extra-cost Kinetic Blue, with the  lighter of two interior colors (gray/white), with the premium audio package (I’ll spend a lot of time commuting in it), and the safety feature package as well. I got the quick charge plug, too. May as well have it the way I want it, and I expect to be showing it off a lot–especially when it’s the first one in town.

Stay tuned!

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