The Chevrolet Bolt's Chief Engineer Is a Proper Gearhead

Fast charging may be a $750 option, sure. The battery pack may degrade to as much as 40 percent over the warranty period. But on the upside, the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt offers 255 miles of city driving for as little as $29,995 after the federal tax credit is applied. The Bolt is, in essence, the first mass-market EV people actually want to buy as an alternative to fossil fuel-powered vehicles.
2017 Chevrolet Bolt 9 photos
Photo: Chevrolet
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Josh Tavel is the man that helped General Motors see the Bolt take shape, beating Tesla Motors and the Model 3 at their own game. But did you know that the chief engineer of the zero-emissions Bolt is, at heart, a gearhead? Here’s an appetizer: when he was just 3 years of age, Tavel used to sneak at night into the garage to sleep under his father’s classic Pontiac Trans Am.

Speaking to the Detroit News, the 37-year-old General Motors engineer agrees that EVs have certain advantages over internal combustion (i.e. instant torque and so forth), albeit his heart remains set on high-octane extravaganza. Before joining GM at “21 or 22,” Josh studied mechanical engineering and automotive systems, then went to work for Jim Derhaag (Derhaag Motorsports). Wrenching on the racecar for drivers such as Derek Bell and Ron Fellows is one hell of a way to start one’s career, that’s for sure. Oh, and by the way, Tavel's first car to call his own was a Porsche 944.

At General Motors, Tavel started as a quality engineer at the Wisconsin plant, then moved up through the ranks to become the “lead development engineer on the Chevy Cruze diesel in Milford. Then I was the chief engineer for [the ill-fated] Cadillac ELR. Then I came to [the] Bolt EV.” Even though he led the R&D for three cars that are far from exciting, Tavel remains faithful to the one thing that brings together us car guys: the suck-squeeze-bang-blow.

Other than a petty Spark, a Bolt, and a GMC Yukon for the family, Tavel’s garage currently includes “a Spec Racer Ford” and a 1970 Datsun 240Z E-Production SCCA racing car. “I’m starting a Corvair [project] - a highly modified Corvair. And I also have two Corvettes in the garage."
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About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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