GM unveils mass-market electric Chevy Bolt during car-packed CES

Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Ford also showcased innovations.
By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |  Jan. 7, 2016 at 10:15 AM
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LAS VEGAS, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- General Motors unveiled the highly-anticipated Chevy Bolt during the 2016 Consumer Electronic Show, where plenty of other vehicles are attempting to gain traction.

In its 48th year, CES 2016 began on Wednesday in Las Vegas, Nev., where more than 3,600 companies will demonstrate their latest innovations to the public. Wearable technology is a focus this year -- such as smart watches, fitness trackers and head-mounted displays -- but vehicles have always been central to the trade show.

The all-electric 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV offers an estimated more than 200 miles of range per charge with a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $37,500 -- but the price could be as low as $30,000 if a buyer receives the full federal tax credit for the electric vehicle. The Bolt will be available late 2016.

"The Chevrolet Bolt represents the first serious electric vehicle available to mainstream consumers," Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, told the Wall Street Journal. "It will be an interesting test to see how the market embraces the Bolt in this era of cheap gas; but from a value and function standpoint, it sets a new benchmark in alternative-fuel options."

GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra unveiled the vehicle during a CES keynote speech.

"This isn't some science project or concept that's years away. The Bolt EV will be in production this year," Barra said, adding that GM's large size, which is often criticized, allows the company to build affordable electric vehicles to the mass-market.

"We can use our scale to bring new technologies to more people faster," she said.

But the Bolt is the only vehicle innovation on display this year at CES.

2016 CES Vehicle Highlights

Toyota FCV Plus

2016 International CES .
Photo by Molly Riley/UPI

Japanese automaker Toyota brought its FCV Plus after first unveiling the concept car at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show in October. The vehicle, dedicated to fuel-cell technology, uses hydrogen as fuel.

"Compressed hydrogen has a higher energy density than electricity, can be generated from a wide range of raw materials, and is easy to store, making it a promising future energy source," Toyota said in an earlier press release. "That's why Toyota envisages a sustainable society in which hydrogen energy is in widespread use -- a society embodied by this concept vehicle."

One of the vehicle's most innovative features is the ability to use its wireless charging capability to share power with surrounding vehicles -- allowing drivers to assist one another on the road. Although impressive, Architectural Digest suggests the vehicle will not be available anytime soon because of the changes to infrastructure needed to accommodate the vehicle's features.

Mercedes-Benz Concept IAA

2016 International CES .
Photo by Molly Riley/UPI

German automaker Mercedes-Benz's Concept "Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile" has the ability to transform -- changing from two different modes: design to aerodynamic; in a way making the hybrid vehicle "two cars in one."

"At the touch of a button, or automatically on reaching a speed of [49 mph], the Mercedes-Benz 'Concept IAA' performs a fascinating transformation in which the captivatingly beautiful four-door coupé turns into an aerodynamics world champion," the automaker explains in a statementept-cars/concept-iaa-intelligent-aerodynamic-automobile/" target="_blank">. "Eight segments extend at the rear, increasing its length by up to 390 millimetres; front flaps in the front bumper extend by 25 millimetres to the front and 20 millimetres to the rear, improving the air flow around the front end and the front wheel arches; the 'Active Rims' alter their cupping from 55 millimetres to zero; and the louvre in the front bumper moves 60 millimetres to the rear, improving the underbody air flow."

The vehicle is has an all-electric range of 41 miles while in aerodynamic mode and slightly less while in design mode. It can reach an electronically limited top speed of about 155 mph.

Ford GT

2016 International CES .
Photo by Molly Riley/UPI

The American automaker's performance Ford GT prides itself on its "extraordinarily powerful" twin-turbocharged, intercooled 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine, projected to produce more than 600 horsepower.

The vehicle's classic aerodynamic design will sport a light carbon-fiber body and carbon-ceramic brakes.

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