This very day 48 years ago, the world was united in watching American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin take the very first human steps on another world. Much has been written about that day and that historic journey, so much so that a second notable July mission to the moon often goes unnoticed. That specific anniversary will happen on July 30, and motoring enthusiasts would do well to remember the date. That's because it will commemorate 46 years since the first car landed on another world, specifically July 30, 1971 with Apollo 15.
We’re speaking of course about the Lunar Rover, which accompanied astronauts to the moon for the “J” extended-stay missions of Apollo 15, 16, and 17. On this Apollo 11 anniversary, Chevrolet wants to remind us that it was part of the development team for the rover which, among other things, included work on the LR’s electric drive motor system. Ferenec Pavlics was NASA’s chief engineer for the rover, but before that noteworthy accomplishment he worked for General Motors.
“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, who is now retired. “We pushed the boundaries of automotive technology and worked hand in hand with the astronauts on the vehicle’s design.”
If you’re an automaker in 2017 with ties to the all-electric Lunar Rover, naturally you’re going to spin that to your current crop of electric cars on the road. We are already big fans of the Chevrolet Bolt with its brisk acceleration and 238-mile driving range, but Chevy thought it might be cute to offer up a comparison between it and the LR, because they have so much in common. Since we’re suckers for science and most things cute, here’s how the first extra-terrestrial electric car stacks up to a very terrestrial five-door hatchback.
With its everyday functionality, gutsy performance, impressive range, and sub-$40,000 price tag, the Bolt has really been in a class of its own compared to other EVs. That’s about to change, however, now that the Tesla Model 3 is ready for primetime. If that car lives up to the hype, it could be the next small step in electric travel that leads to a giant leap for the motoring masses. In either case, if a little bit of electric horsepower is good enough for astronauts to go rock crawling on the Moon, a lot of electric horsepower and instant torque is good enough for us. Just imagine what we'll be driving in the next 46 years.
Gallery: Chevrolet Bolt Versus Lunar Rover
CHEVROLET BRINGS ALL-ELECTRIC VEHICLE TECHNOLOGY FROM THE MOON TO EARTH
45 years after first Lunar Rover Trip, EV engineers continue to innovate
DETROIT — 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.
Find more information on the benefits of driving electric at www.ChevyEVlife.com. Learn more about the Bolt EV at www.chevrolet.com/bolt-ev.