Since the unveiling of the Chevy Bolt at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, there’s been some scepticism about the planned nationwide availability of the all-electric vehicle, presumably due to GM’s track record of producing compliance cars when it comes to electric vehicles. The Chevrolet Spark EV is primarily available in CARB states in order to comply to regulations and the company recently confirmed that the 2016 version of the Volt will also only be offered in CARB states.
But GM says it will not be the case for the Bolt and the company recently reaffirmed its intention to launch the all-electric vehicle in all 50 states. Shad Balch, Manager of New Product and Public Policy Communications at GM, told Autoblog:
“We’ve also committed that it’s going to be a 50-state vehicle at launch. That’s to show our commitment to the technology. Our hope is that it becomes a high-volume-selling car, and that it’s not just for the coasts, it’s not just for a certain income level, but it is a long-range EV that anybody can get themselves into. … [This is] a good alternative to the luxury long-range EVs that are available now. It’s something that people can see themselves actually affording to get into. That’s the message from this car.”
It is a welcomed commitment, but the comment about being an “alternative to the luxury long-range EVs” is a arguably a stretch. I doubt the Bolt is meant to compete with Tesla’s Model S. There’s a persisting mentality that all electric vehicles compete with each others and it is worrying that the same mentality is found within GM’s management. No one expects the GM Sonic to compete with the Mercedes S-Class, the same way no one expects the GM Bolt to compete with the Tesla Model S.
The Bolt is expected to hit the market in late 2016 at a price point of ~$37,500 before incentives with a range of over 200 miles on a single charge.
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GM management has fully earned their reputation as foot dragging luddites where EVs are concerned. It will be a surprise if corporate management is able to overcome the reality that GMs actual customer is the dealership network that cares little about anything beyond making as much profit as possible at the expense of the end user. BEVs aren’t that profitable for dealers, especially when competing against a direct sale business model that eliminates the dealership layer from the costs that the end user must support. Bolts, sold through GM dealers, won’t be big sellers when put up against BEVs delivered through a direct sale business model. People who buy BEVs want BEVs. Dealerships can smell a buyer that wants a particular car a mile away and won’t be able to resist putting the screws to them. It is just not their nature.
You couldn’t give me a GM car. This car will flop and have GM recalling it. It’ll be a POS just like the rest of their lineup.