Chevy Bolt vs Volt: Which Electric Car Is Best For You?

If you aren’t sure about the difference between a Chevy Bolt and Volt, you’re not alone.

The decision by General Motors to give the company’s two plug-in electric vehicles such similar names was bound to create confusion. “Did you say Bolt or Volt?” is a common refrain among EV shoppers.

To add more confusion, mainstream consumers are uncertain about the differences between a hybrid like the Volt and an electric vehicle like the Bolt. But it’s precisely this technological distinction that distinguishes the two vehicles, as follows:

The Chevrolet Bolt (with a B) is a pure electric vehicle. The only source of the Bolt’s propulsion is an electric motor. To “fuel” a Bolt, you plug it in to charge its battery pack. You never go to the gas station because the Bolt doesn’t have an engine, gas tank, or a tailpipe.

The Chevrolet Volt (with a V) is a plug-in hybrid. It has two power plants. The Volt uses both a battery to power an electric motor and a gas tank to power an internal combustion engine. Sometimes the Volt works and feels like an electric car and other times it functions as a regular gasoline vehicle. Volt drivers plug in their cars on most days but only visit a gas station a few times a year.

Drivers of the Chevrolet Volt almost never go to a gas station. But the gas engine is available for long trips.

Both cars are among the most efficient vehicles on the road. For practical purposes, the big difference between the two vehicles is the size of their battery packs. In this case, size does matter. The battery pack size is the main factor that determines how far you can go on electrons. While the Bolt has a much larger battery pack and can go nearly 240 miles on a charge, when its battery is depleted, you have to stop and recharge. On the other hand, when the electric juice runs out on a Volt after about 50 miles, the onboard gasoline engine fires up and runs until you have a convenient opportunity to plug it back in.

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