By Bea Elle
In July 1971, Apollo 15 astronauts explored the moon in the first electric-powered Lunar Rover, thanks to help from General Motors engineers. Fast-forward to the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, and it’s clear once again that GM remains at the forefront of EV engineering. With an EPA-estimated range of 238 miles on a single charge and costing a fraction of the Lunar Rover’s $38 million price tag, the Bolt EV has made driving electric attainable for the Earth-bound.
The Rover was a textbook example of pushing the envelope of creativity. Working at light speed, GM, in cooperation with partner companies, developed, designed and tested the Lunar Rover. Engineers from GM helped create a revolutionary electric motor drive system, suspension, mesh wire wheels and a unique drive controller adapted for lunar gloves.
Project chief engineer Ferenc Pavlics and his team thought outside the box to solve challenges for both for astronauts and future EV customers. Almost 50 years after the project, Pavlics still remembers the innovation and commitment required to build an electric vehicle with unprecedented performance.
“When our team began engineering for the Lunar Rover, there were so many unknowns, including varied terrain, extreme temperatures and the effect of reduced gravity,” said Pavlics, now retired. “We pushed the boundaries of automotive technology and worked hand in hand with the astronauts on the vehicle’s design.”
Pavlics sees a connective thread between his work then and Chevrolet’s contemporary electric vehicles. Today, Chevrolet EVs have the advantage of finding new roads on Earth, but the team brings the same commitment to engineering cars such as the award-winning Bolt EV.
“The Bolt EV required a new architecture to upend the status quo on electric driving,” said Michael Lelli, vehicle chief engineer. “We drew on our deep electrification expertise to provide Chevrolet customers the first long-range, affordable electric car.”
The same innovative spirit that drove the company to engineer an electric vehicle for the moon lives on in the Bolt EV. Except today’s EV drivers don’t have to wear space suits.
Starting at an MSRP of $37,495 before federal tax incentives of up to $7,500 depending upon individual tax situation, the 2017 Bolt EV offers an EPA-estimated 238 miles of range on a single charge. Standard features include electronic precision shift, one-pedal driving, Regen on Demand™ steering wheel paddle, 10.2-inch-diagonal color touchscreen and an 8 year/100,000 mile battery and propulsion system limited warranty (whichever comes first, see dealer for details). The top-trim Premier model adds leather-appointed seats, front and rear heated seats, Surround Vision Camera, Rear Camera Mirror and more.