The Chevrolet Bolt EV has in many ways been a success story for GM, helping them to establish a decent reputation in the world of electric vehicles. It hasn’t all been plain sailing, of course. There have been serious issues, even recently, with safety-related recalls and other problems, but these aren’t the focus of today’s blog.
In today’s blog, we’ll be dealing with something of a more everyday gripe that people have with the Chevy Bolt, and that’s something that it apparently lacks as a standard option — a garage door opener.
Many car models offer built-in options for garage door openers and/or connections to the Homelink system that manages them. It may seem like a small issue, but it’s indicative of a wider range of problems that the Chevy Bolt has had with its customer base.
Background: What’s the Issue?
The Chevy Bolt’s lack of a garage door opener has been part of a long list of complaints that buyers or prospective buyers have had with GM since at least 2018-2019. Besides the lack of a standard fitting of a garage door opener, the Bolt was also known to lack heat pumps, the HomeLink system, Super Cruise and Supercharging as an option. What were GM offering when they brought out new Bolt models? Chiefly their marketing efforts focused on range.
Interestingly, range is the one thing that almost no one criticizes the Chevy Bolt for. Quite the opposite is true, in fact. It has consistently been able to offer a pleasing range where others have struggled. Right now, however, it seems there are many users who would prefer if GM would finally address some of the things people say are lacking from the overall build of the Bolt, one of which is the garage door opener.
To be clear, it’s not that the Chevy Bolt can’t have a garage door opener installed, but the somewhat unusual thing is that there is currently no OEM offering of a garage door opener from GM. In other words, if you were to order a brand-new Chevy Bolt today, there’d be no package that offered a garage door opener.
Even though the 2022 Chevy Bolt comes with fantastic upgrades like a Bose premium sound system, wireless smartphone connectivity, adaptive cruise control and wireless charging, not to mention nice practical package additions like sunshades, sill plates, cargo nets and more, there is still no sign of a garage door opener.
One other irksome aspect of this for Bolt owners is that they feel they are being short changed after investing considerable sums in their new EV only to find basic everyday features not even being a standard option. The 2022 Bolt starts at $31,995 for the Bolt 1LT, and $35,195 for the 2LT version. Not even the all-new 2022 Bolt EUV which gets up to $37,995 as a starting price fails to offer this simple addition.
Therefore, Bolt owners are understandably frustrated with GM making great progress in some areas, but lagging in basic provision of features that other car models have offered for many years. All of this seems quite topsy turvy when you consider the relative expense of the Bolt compared to many cars that do have garage door openers.
A bit of retrofitting wouldn’t go amiss, it would seem. As things stand, the retrofitting is down to the plucky attitudes of owners and their willingness to delve into the aftermarket for solutions. We’ll take a closer look at these in the next section.
Possible Explanation: Cost?
Further above, we discussed the frustration of owners who spend a premium buying a Chevy Bolt only to find it lacks a basic feature they need. Could the reason for this be the added cost of licensing HomeLink as a system to the Bolt
One possible explanation for the lack of inclusion could be part of a wider effort to keep pricing on the Chevy Bolt as low as possible. With other OEMs finding ways to bring the cost of EVs down, it wouldn’t be a very competitive idea for GM to make their flagship EV model too luxurious in price.
Possible Explanation: Any Need?
Another point brought up by some is that the preponderance of third-party options makes an OEM installation of this feature unnecessary. We’ll cover the alternatives in the next section, but with there being options even to get garage doors open with smartphone apps on phones that connect seamlessly with our cars, is there any need for GM to go to the added trouble and expense of installing one for us?
Possible Explanation: An Ordinary Bolt?
One other explanation put forward by some less surprised Bolt owners is that while the Bolt may feel like a premium vehicle — certainly sold at a premium price point — you’re actually buying quite an ordinary car in and of itself. The main reason the Bolt is expensive is because of its battery and electric powertrain.
This is the primary reason that most EVs are more expensive. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be so surprising that you don’t get many additional premium features along with that price.
This explanation may have held water back in 2017, but since then the offering in the Bolt has become distinctly more premium, as we mentioned further above with options like wireless smartphone connectivity and charging. If these things can be added at the same price point, then why not a garage door opener? And so, the debate among Bolt owners continues.
Alternatives to Standard Garage Door Opener
With no OEM option available, Bolt owners can simply turn to the aftermarket for solutions. Fortunately for them, the information age and automotive aftermarket offer many viable alternatives, many of which are inexpensive and require minimum fuss.
That’s good news when you’ve already dropped $32,000 or more on your brand-new 2022 Chevy Bolt. Let’s start with the most comprehensive solution, which is installing HomeLink yourself.
1. Install HomeLink System Yourself
One very helpful YouTuber, Yanimac, has a demonstration of how to install the HomeLink system yourself:
He demonstrates in his own 2020 model, pointing out that it seems unusual to some that there’s no standard HomeLink installation in a car as late as 2020. With a HomeLink kit bought on Amazon for $159.99 (current price at time of writing), he is able to place a kit in the domelight section of the roof right above the dashboard where you otherwise might expect to find a HomeLink system.
This isn’t a job for the faint-hearted, however. It can get quite fiddly and seems fairly time consuming. If you are absolutely determined to install something like a regular HomeLink system, which for some is attractive because they may have owned many Chevy cars and are used to HomeLink, then this is an option. You could always find a helpful mechanic or technician to do it for you, of course.
2. Use an Alternative Garage Door Opener System
If this HomeLink option isn’t for you and you don’t want to start mangling the Bolt’s interiors, then you can explore alternatives. One is to purchase a garage door opener with Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth connectivity that operates via your smartphone. There are many brands you can choose from, as showcased in videos like this one from Powertoolbuzz on YouTube:
This is a cleaner and neater solution to your problem. The door-opening machines themselves look as you might expect, and are mounted to the ceiling of your garage and operate with chain belts and similar technology. Advancements have made them quieter and with better backup battery technology so that they’ll even work in a blackout, but they are essentially the same device that people have had and used for years.
The difference comes in their smarter connectivity. Modern openers can be operated with dedicated smartphone apps that you simply activate with the push of a button on your smartphone screen.
How Much Renovation is Required?
Thanks to the advent of smarter Wi-Fi based connectivity and/or Bluetooth connectivity, modern garage door openers don’t rely on point-to-point contact in the same way that they did previously.
Smartphone-based solutions can be operated from anywhere, so one resident at the office could open the garage door from their desk while another resident was waiting at home. This also has helped to minimize the amount of renovation that’s required for installation.
The opener units themselves now connect to Wi-Fi units which just sit in the home plugged into the wall, so outside of the temporary disturbance to install the devices — which are more compact than ever — and chains connecting the door, there’s little else physically to do.
Conclusion: How Much Does it Matter?
It’s clear that the lack of HomeLink and an OEM-based garage door opener solution is a sore point for many owners. It seems, however, that many complaints come from those perhaps loyal Chevy customers who are used to systems like HomeLink and are currently unaware of the many (and better) alternatives that exist. If the lack of the garage door opener helps keep Bolt pricing competitive, then it’s probably a smart move for GM to just leave it to third parties.
Let GM continue focusing on more cutting-edge in-car features that make the Bolt better to drive.