John F. Martin

The big news at CES: electric vehicles that can last 200 miles on a single charge.

January 07, 2016

Imagine a road trip where you have to fuel up every 75 miles. Up until now, that’s what it’s been like to drive an electric car. At CES, however, green-leaning cars got a travel-friendly upgrade that’s impossible to ignore. In what may be the biggest news of the entire conference, Chevrolet debuted the longest-range electric and hybrid vehicles to date: the Bolt and the newly updated Volt, respectively. Both will be hitting the market for 2017 models, available in a few months’ time. The all-electric Bolt can last 200 miles on a single charge, whereas the Volt doubles that range with a combination of electric and fuel power. (That 400 mile range? It’ll safely get you from New York City to Montreal.) Compare them to the current standards for green cars, and it’s like Chevy is begging you to take them on an epic road trip.

Aside from improved range, the Bolt is a surprisingly ideal car for long drives, with built-in Android Auto and Apple CarPlay technology to help you stream music and find points of interest nearby, wherever you may go. Both smart infotainment systems also offer real-time traffic updates via apps like Waze, for more efficient routing.

Then there’s the storage space, which is surprisingly roomy for a compact car of any nature, much less one that’s packed with electric batteries. The Bolt’s spacious trunk will easily hold enough luggage for a two-week trip (or a couple of duffels and a dog, if you must)—a feature that received tons of praise during the CES preview.

If you’re angling for an iconic drive down the Pacific Coast Highway, you’re in even better luck. The California road trip has become one of the friendliest routes for electric drivers, thanks to a big push by Charge Point to install fast charging stations at regular intervals across its entire length. Depending on the car model, these high-tech stations will get you fully juiced up in 20 minutes or less, and there are 100 of them nationwide (you’ll find plenty on the East Coast too, from Washington, D.C. to Boston).

And it’s only going to get better. With its sub-$40,000 Model C, Tesla is making strides towards mass adoption, and its cars benefit from a proprietary network of charging stations in addition to Charge Point. Volkswagen just announced two new long-range concept cars, the Budd-E and the E-Golf Touch, that will be fully electric. And the pressure is on for every luxury automaker, from BMW to Mercedes-Benz, to follow suit. Simply put, it’s getting a whole lot easier to be green.

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