Exclusive: We Talk Bolt EV And EUV With GM's Electric Car Infrastructure Boss
We get more details regarding GM’s home charging installation offer for Bolt EV & EUV customers.
A few weeks ago when Chevrolet revealed the refreshed 2022 Bolt EV and new Bolt EUV, it was also disclosed that purchasers or leasees of either vehicle would qualify for free “standard installation of Level 2 charging capability”. We covered the news, but still had some lingering questions about the offer.
So we reached out to GM and were able to set up an interview with Aaron Wolff, GM’s Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Strategy Manager, to clear up some of our concerns.
The one point that Wolff wanted to make sure he got across is that this service isn’t just about lowering (or eliminating) the EVSE installation cost that Bolt EV and EUV owners would incur. It’s more than just a financial incentive, it’s also about simplifying the transition to a plug-in vehicle. Wolff recognizes that home charging installation can be a real pain point for those that are first-time EV owners.
What Do Customers Get?
Chevrolet will pay to install a NEMA 14-50 outlet in your garage. The service includes a 40-amp circuit breaker to power the outlet. I initially questioned Chevrolet about this, since NEMA 14-50 outlets are typically installed on a 50-amp circuit with a 50-amp breaker. And I actually have some personal experience with this. Years ago when I owned a restaurant I installed a NEMA 14-50 outlet and used a 40-amp breaker and I failed the inspection.
However, Wolff was ready for this question and cited the code – 2017 NEC 210.21(B) that allows 40-amp breakers to power a NEMA 14-50 outlet because there are no dedicated 40-amp outlets. So why did I fail the inspection years ago? Well, because the local AHJ “Authority Having Jurisdiction” (meaning the local inspector) can sometimes require you to do something that isn’t exactly to the letter of the code. You can fight them if you’re correct, but most of the time it ends up being less expensive and less of a hassle to just do as they ask, as was the case with me just swapping the 40-amp breaker to a 50-amp one as the wiring was already sufficient for 50-amps.
Why is this relevant here? It’s relevant because Chevrolet is installing a 40-amp breaker to match the level 2 EVSE that they are including with the Bolt EUV. That unit can deliver 32-amps (7.7 kW) to the vehicle. A 32-amp load only requires a 40-amp circuit, so that’s what Chevrolet is providing. Personally, I would have probably just included the 50-amp breaker because the cost difference is marginal (less than $10), but I see that Chevrolet is matching the circuit with the equipment they are providing.
Upsizing The Wire To Futureproof
Even though the standard installation only includes a 40-amp breaker, Qmerit will be using a 6-gauge wire for the circuit which is heavier than the 8-gauge wire required for a NEMA-14-50 outlet. That will allow the customer to upgrade to a more powerful EVSE in the future if they desire.
They can simply swap the 40-amp breaker for a 50-amp breaker and plug in a 40-amp EVSE to charge at 40-amps (9.6 kW). They can also install a 60-amp breaker and hardwire a 48-amp EVSE and charge at the Bolt EV and EUV’s maximum charge rate of 11kW.
If you wish to do that right from the start, you can ask for a quote for the additional work (upgrading to a 50-amp breaker or hardwiring the 48-amp EVSE you purchase), and only pay the additional upcharges.
Upgrading the wire to 6-gauge may seem like a small perk, but I think it’s a great idea and one that owners will appreciate – if not initially, in the future when they want to upgrade their home charging equipment.
We want to remove the cost and the complexity that comes with home charging installations. We’re trying to get everyday people into EVs, so the point of this program was to take the complexity out of it for our customers – Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Strategy Manager, General Motors
What Is A “Standard Installation”?
This is one question that I really couldn’t get a clear answer on – and that’s not surprising, actually. That’s because there are so many different challenges that can arise from home to home and every installation is different.
GM’s installation partner, Qmerit says on its website: “Most installations range from about $750 to $1,750” So I think it’s safe to assume that Chevrolet will be willing to pick up the entire cost as long as it’s somewhere in the $750 to perhaps as much as $1,000 range. Although I need to point out that Wolff wouldn’t offer a specific dollar amount.
So what happens if the installation costs more? The customer will then be responsible to pay the difference. I got the impression that this is still kind of a work in progress, and we’ll keep a lookout for additional details as Chevrolet announces them.
Why end the incentive in July?
The Bolt EV and EUV are set to launch this summer, but Chevy’s website says this installation program ends on June 30th – that doesn’t give customers much time. This was another topic that Wolff was kind of dancing around. It seemed as though he really wanted to say they will extend it beyond June 30th but wasn’t allowed to. However, at one point he did say that there’s a “good chance” they will extend it. Personally, I took that as it’s a done deal, but we’ll have to wait and see.
What If You Don’t Need This Service?
The last question I asked Wolff was: Are you going to offer anything to those that don’t need this service? There are plenty of people that already have home charging covered and also many others that cannot install home charging equipment because they live in an apartment or other multi-family dwelling.
While Wolff couldn’t give me an exact answer at this point, he did say that there would be an alternative incentive for those that don’t take them up on the home installation offering. He mentioned it would likely have something to do with charging and that I could probably figure it out.
With that in mind, I’m going to guess if you pass on the home installation offer, you’ll get some amount of free charging on the EVgo network. I suspect the offer would be with EVgo rather than Electrify America since GM recently announced a collaboration with EVgo to build out public DC Fast charge infrastructure.
What charging equipment comes with the Bolt EV and Bolt EUV?
As mentioned above, both the Bolt EV and Bolt EUV have 48-amp onboard chargers and can accept 11 kW of power. The Bolt EV will continue to come standard with a level 1, 120V EVSE, as previous year’s Bolt EVs have.
The new Bolt EUV will come standard with a dual-voltage EVSE that can plug into a 120V outlet to charge on level 1, but it will also be able to plug into a 240V NEMA 14-50 outlet and deliver 32-amps (7.7 kW) to the vehicle. Bolt EV customers can purchase this charger with the car, but pricing has not yet been announced.
Gallery: 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV
While it’s not a perfect solution, we like the direction that Chevrolet is taking with this added incentive for Bolt EV and Bolt EUV customers. Personally, I love that they are using a 6-gauge wire instead of the standard 8-gauge. It wasn’t required, but they decided it’s a good policy to help futureproof the customer’s charging capability.
Additionally, 6-gauge wire can deliver the maximum 11kW to the vehicle that both Bolts can accept, so the customer can easily upgrade to a 48-amp EVSE if they choose to at some point.
Let us know your thoughts on this offering in the comment section below.
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