Chevrolet is pruning its backyard, with the all-electric Bolt EV and Bolt EUV the most recent casualties, each of which is able to stop manufacturing by the top of 2023.
Not like the Camaro, which is being axed primarily due to slowing gross sales and a shrinking market section, gross sales of the Bolt are literally on the rise. (Extra on that later.)
As an alternative, the automaker says it’s discontinuing the Bolt in an effort to retool the manufacturing facility in Orion Township, Michigan to provide the Chevrolet Silverado EV and the GMC Sierra EV. Each are based mostly on the corporate’s devoted body-on-frame EV structure, additionally discovered beneath the GMC Hummer, and use the automaker’s Ultium battery expertise.
Manufacturing of those two pickup vans is anticipated to start a while in 2024. It’s probably these two pickups, in addition to the high-end Cadillac and mid-size Chevrolet EVs the corporate is busy launching, supply a sooner path to profitability than the Bolt.
When the final new Bolt is offered, it is going to go away a gap within the US marketplace for a really inexpensive EV.
On condition that Chinese language automakers have to date shied away from America, and EV tax credit from the Biden administration’s Inflation Discount Act solely apply to automobiles produced in North America, it is likely to be some time earlier than one other car takes the Bolt’s mantle.
On the time of writing, the Bolt EV begins at US$26,500 (A$40,000), whereas the marginally bigger Bolt EUV begins at US$27,800 ($42,000). Each qualify for the US authorities’s US$7500 tax credit score, bringing the acquisition to round US$20,000 ($30,000) — about US$1000 lower than the worth of an entry-level Toyota Corolla sedan.
Even Chevrolet’s new Equinox EV, which is able to supply extra typical styling, has a focused base value of US$30,000 ($45,400).
It’s a giant step up from the outgoing Bolt to the following most cost-effective fashions: the Hyundai Kona EV ($33,550), and Nissan Leaf (US$36,040). Each of those automobiles are imported, and don’t qualify for the tax credit score.
We should always notice, again when the Bolt was launched in 2016, it was costlier than the then-reigning EV champ, the first-generation Nissan Leaf, which began at US$30,600 however had a mere 78kW of energy, and its petite 30kWh battery was solely good for 172km of driving.
Whereas the Bolt could have been a boon for EV lovers with a watch for a cut price, it hasn’t been a worthwhile enterprise for GM. Relying on which analyst you imagine, the automaker has misplaced someplace between US$5000 and US$8000 on every Bolt offered.
Getting into manufacturing in late 2016, the Bolt beat the Tesla Mannequin 3 to market by over half a yr. Throughout each automobiles’ improvement, each producers claimed they have been busy designing an inexpensive EV for the lots, with goal pricing of US$35,000.
Ultimately, Chevrolet was not too far off with the bottom LT kicking issues off at US$37,495, or a smidge lower than the Mercedes-Benz CLA earlier than you issue within the US$7500 federal tax credit score.
In the meantime Tesla determined to deal with costlier variants of the Mannequin 3, though it did finally (briefly) hit the US$35,000 goal with the store-order solely Commonplace Vary mannequin.
Though the Bolt is in-built Michigan, it was designed by GM’s studio in South Korea — a results of the corporate’s buy of Daewoo in 2002.
The automobile additionally featured a battery pack made by LG Chem in South Korea, though in later years battery manufacturing shifted to the US. Rated at 60kWh, the Bolt had US EPA vary score of 383km, greater than sufficient for many day by day conditions.
Highway-trips, although, have been and nonetheless are a problem. Though the Mannequin 3’s 170kW DC charging velocity far eclipsed the Bolt’s 55kW most when fitted with its non-obligatory quick charging system, the principle problem was the shortage of dependable public quick chargers exterior of massive inhabitants centres.
Outfitted with an electrical motor making 149kW and 361Nm, the front-wheel drive Bolt was surprisingly spritely with a 0-60mph (0-97km/h) time of round 6.5 seconds.
Measuring 4166mm lengthy, 1765mm large, 1595mm tall, and using on a 2601mm wheelbase, the Bolt is about 100mm bigger in each dimension, besides peak, than the Honda Jazz.
Just like the Jazz, the Bolt has a spacious inside for a small footprint. Whereas it included a powerful quantity of in-cabin expertise for the time, the onerous plastics and diminutive measurement didn’t gel with its US$35,000 price ticket.
From its launch in 2017 till GM’s sale of Opel/Vauxhall to the PSA Group, the Bolt was offered in Europe because the Opel Ampera-e, a observe as much as the plug-in hybrid Opel Ampera, a calmly redesigned model of the Chevrolet Volt.
Because the Bolt has solely ever been in-built left-hand drive, there was no Vauxhall model, and no official UK gross sales.
After gaining a bigger 66kWh battery in 2020, the Bolt was given a facelift in 2021.
The revised Bolt EV featured a brand new entrance finish with skinny headlights, a grille-less bumper, new tail-lights, a revised tailgate, and a US$5000 ($7500) value minimize.
The vary additionally gained a extra spacious EUV mannequin with an extended wheelbase and a novel, however nonetheless very acquainted, exterior.
At 4305mm lengthy, 1770mm large, 1615mm tall, and using on a 2675mm wheelbase, the EUV is 139mm longer, 5mm wider, 20mm taller, and has a 74mm longer wheelbase than the common Bolt EV.
Whereas there have been no adjustments to the drivetrain or battery programs, each the Bolt EV and EUV did profit from a redesigned dashboard, and improved entrance seats.
The Bolt EUV additionally gained 55kW DC charging as customary, and was the primary Chevrolet-branded car to realize the choice of GM’s Tremendous Cruise Degree 2 autonomous driving system, which permits the driving force to place the automobile into hands-free driving mode on pre-approved highways within the US and Canada.
A collection of battery fires finally led to GM pausing gross sales in mid-2021, and advising homeowners to solely cost their automobiles outside, and solely to 90 per cent of most capability.
Ultimately all 141,000 Bolts offered to this point have been recalled, and finally fitted with a redesigned battery modules. LG agreed to pay US$1.9 billion ($2.9 billion) of the US$2 billion ($3 billion) in prices.
GM mentioned some battery packs had a “torn anode tab and a folded separator” in some cells, which meant they have been susceptible to shorting and overheating, particularly when the pack was near full.
Along with this, the automaker instructed Autoweek “the Bolt EV doesn’t have the design characteristic to disconnect a person battery cell”, that means the sort of failure was managed by lowering general capability.
Not lengthy after gross sales resumed in April 2022, Chevrolet took the drastic step of slicing the Bolt EV’s value by round US$10,000 to US$26,495. The EUV was additionally discounted by US$6300 to US$28,195.
In 2017, its first full yr on sale, the Chevrolet Bolt had little competitors aside from the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3, and managed a decent 23,297 gross sales.
After the Mannequin 3 overcame “manufacturing hell” in 2017, the place simply 1667 have been offered Stateside, Tesla was capable of promote 140,317 in 2018, blowing properly previous the Bolt’s meagre complete of 18,020.
That mentioned, the Bolt’s gross sales trajectory is bending upwards. Regardless of the cease sale order issued resulting from battery fires, 24,827 Bolts have been offered in 2021, and 38,122 discovered new properties in 2022 after manufacturing recommenced.
In the course of the first three months of the 2023, the Bolt has notched up 19,700 gross sales.
If the Bolt is in some way capable of sustain with that run fee would equate to 78,800 for your complete yr. Even when it doesn’t, the Bolt will probably bow out on a record-breaking gross sales determine.