Auto salesman Mike Atkins and Maritime Chevrolet double down on the future of the Chevy Bolt

Mike Atkins is the ‘EV sales specialist for Maritime Chevrolet in Fairfield. As such, he’s become thoroughly familiar with the innovative automotive technology behind the Chevy Bolt. As EVs (electric vehicles) increasingly transform the industry, Mike is optimistic that the Bolt will be a success.

How does one become an EV sales specialist at Chevrolet?

Everyone on the sales team at Maritime Chevy understands the basics about the Bolt models. But I went further and studied the GM EV training program. I had to pass the tests on the EV technology and specifically, on the features of the Chevy Bolt models. Equally important, you need to drive the Bolt and understand how the car handles. Driving an EV is a little different from conventional internal combustion (IC) models. Getting behind the wheel was a lot more fun than studying technology modules!

How was the Bolt to drive?

Of course, the basics are the same as any car. But with the Bolt, the first thing you notice is the torque. It has a lot of torque and 200 horsepower, so it has no problem accelerating! Also, the overall driving experience is very fluid because there’s essentially no transmission. All you have is a single forward gear that keeps pulling you along. The most unusual aspect of driving a Bolt is the regenerative braking that kicks in as soon as you take your foot off the gas pedal.

How does regenerative braking work?

Regenerative, or ‘regen’ braking recharges the car’s batteries when you use the brake. This avoids wasting power and can extend the car’s driving range. Chevrolet has added an “auto-drive” feature, which means once you let off on the gas pedal the regen braking immediately kicks in and starts to recharge the batteries. That took me a moment to get used to, but it’s damned practical.

How do customers shopping for a new car respond to the Chevy Bolt?

In general, today’s customers do their due diligence on the type of car they’re looking for before they walk through the door. Most of the people that ask about the Bolt are already interested in an EV; they know about the Teslas and all the smaller EV models that compete with the Bolt.

What do they like most about the car?

They like the driving range, the price and interior finish of the Bolt. Of course, once they go out for a test drive they usually come back with a smile on their face!

How is the pricing for a Bolt?

It’s amazingly attractive now. We can lease a new Bolt for much less than $200/month, depending on the rebates you qualify for.

How’s the driving range on the Bolt?

Officially, the Bolt has an EPA-rated range of 259 miles, but you can easily get more than that if you adjust your driving style. I’ve heard of owners that get up to 300 miles on a charge. Of course, if you’re a “hyper-miler,” you can push even that up to over 450 miles on a single charge!

What is a “hyper-miler”?

Hyper-milers drive the vehicle as efficiently as possible in order to go the longest distance possible on one charge/fuel tank, like running the car at an optimal speed – mostly slower than you normally would.

How about charging times?

With a supercharger mode you can get about an 80% charge within an hour once you’ve gone past your mileage range and the batteries are down.

Commuting is easy, but what about driving across the country?

I’ve talked clients through the questions around long distance driving. It’s totally doable with Chevy’s FastCharge app that shows you where you can charge the car wherever to happen to be driving.

What’s your perspective on the coming consumer shift from internal combustion to electric vehicles?

I think we’re heading in the right direction. EVs have a lot to offer in terms of reliability, we never see them in our service department! And they’re fun to drive.

Maritime Chevrolet of Fairfield