Like many different individuals, I purchased a Bolt EUV final yr after costs dropped. These worth drops have been momentary for the 2020-22 mannequin yr, however have been made everlasting for 2023. Then, on prime of the worth drops, the Bolt Brothers (EV and EUV) ended up being eligible for some fairly hefty tax incentives for the primary a part of this yr. The top outcome was a hell of a deal, regardless of the shortcomings of charging velocity in comparison with dearer EVs.
What we didn’t know on the time was that 2023 was the final yr for the Bolts. As of this fall, manufacturing for each fashions will finish to make room for GM’s Ultium fashions, together with the Chevy Silverado EV and its GMC Sierra counterpart (these vans have at all times been constructed on the identical traces, with sellers sometimes getting some “mutts” with a mixture of GMC and Chevrolet emblems utilized by chance). This strikes does make loads of sense, as GM can achieve better economies of scale by placing all of their autos on the identical electrical platform, and persevering with manufacturing of an older mannequin can be extra expensive throughout.
It’s additionally essential to grasp that the common purchaser clearly doesn’t perceive what they’re moving into with a Bolt buy. CleanTechnica readers largely know that the automobile can solely pull 55 kW max at Degree 3 stations, however you guys often what a kilowatt even is. The limitless frustrations at Electrify America stations when a Bolt proprietor pulls into the 350 kW area and sits for an hour (when the 150 kW area would have been simply as quick) exhibits us that patrons in all probability didn’t know what they have been going to overlook out on.
Positive, many did know (together with myself), and we’d nonetheless would reasonably have a slower EV than no EV in any respect, however conserving the Bolt round was positive to trigger confusion and anger an increasing number of the longer it coexists on seller heaps.
Then again, now we have to remember what GM is definitely promoting this yr. Fuel autos apart, for those who have been to cease gross sales of the Bolt and Bolt EUV, you’d be left with, as Agent Ok would say, “exactly d!<#.” The Hummer EV is a low-volume machine with virtually hand-built manufacturing ranges. Different retailers try to be good once they say Cadillac Lyriq deliveries have been “virtually 1,000.” So, perhaps it’s not exactly nothing, however by way of Tesla’s mass manufacturing and even GM’s a lot smaller Bolt EV/EUV gross sales, GM’s low-volume early Ultium EVs are virtually a rounding error.
Sadly, even when the cheaper Ultium fashions begin to present up on seller heaps, they’re not going to be wherever almost as reasonably priced because the Bolts have been. The closest-priced automobile would be the Equinox EV, with its most cost-effective front-drive variant alleged to be priced beginning at $30,000. Sadly, we’re unlikely to see these lower-spec Equinoxes on sale in late 2023 and even in 2024. I requested GM about reasonably priced Equinox variants, and even low-spec Blazers, and there’s no phrase on the provision of these.
“Let Them Eat Cake?”
Whereas the Bolts are actually legacy fashions that each get in the best way of GM’s plans and get in the best way of individuals at charging stations, it’s additionally a little bit of an apples-to-oranges comparability to level out the fashions’ shortcomings when in comparison with one thing like a Tesla Mannequin 3. In any case, for those who’re sitting in a Tesla, it was one thing you would afford, and within the worth vary you have been procuring, the Bolts appear to be a fairly uncooked deal.
That having been mentioned, for those who’re not on a Tesla funds, your different choices within the $25,000 vary are restricted to the Bolts and the Nissan LEAF. Sure, the LEAF has many followers, however the lack of liquid cooling makes for even slower charging on journeys and batteries that degrade sooner. So, I do know the LEAF fanboys will hate me for saying this, nevertheless it’s actually a no brainer resolution between these autos. The Bolts are at the moment the king of that market section by way of worth.
When GM discontinues the Bolts and replaces their manufacturing area with $50,000+ vans, it’s a bit just like the apocryphal story of a rich princess (supposedly, however in all probability not Marie Antoinette) who was instructed that the widespread individuals didn’t have any bread to eat. The response, “Allow them to eat cake,” signifies that the princess didn’t perceive that individuals who have been too poor to pay money for bread couldn’t simply eat some luxurious meals as an alternative.
GM has mentioned previously that its technique is to seize that decrease finish of the market, particularly the $30-35k vary. This, CEO Mary Barra mentioned, was how the corporate might catch as much as Tesla. By having the ability to compete in market segments the place Tesla doesn’t play in any respect, GM’s technique does lend some credibility to its huge acknowledged targets for EVs within the coming years.
If the early demise of the Bolt and particularly the Bolt EUV (not even in manufacturing for 2 years now) is any indication, GM could also be abandoning that technique. With a $30k Equinox not arriving for no less than a yr or two, GM appears to be making an attempt to do what each different producer is doing and go for the extra worthwhile high-end market as an alternative of promoting individuals on common and decrease incomes any EVs. GM doesn’t need to reply any questions, nevertheless it’s clear that plans modified, as a result of it will have by no means spent the cash to design the EUV variant if it had plans from the start to cease producing it so quickly.
If so, and the corporate has deserted plans to serve the decrease market, it’s a nasty signal typically. Nissan additionally plans to finish LEAF manufacturing, after which no person in that earnings bracket can have entry to a brand new EV. Used EVs in all probability gained’t attain that market section for years, as demand for them will in all probability prop up costs.
The top result’s a market the place individuals with decrease incomes simply get shafted by society greater than they’ve in a very long time. As a substitute of “Allow them to eat cake,” we as an alternative get to be neo-serfs who can’t purchase a house, can’t purchase a automobile, and might’t personal a lot of the rest aside from perhaps an e-bike (in cities that don’t attempt to penalize even that). The narcissists and sociopaths pushing “You’ll personal nothing and be completely satisfied” could also be OK with this, however solely as a result of they’ll personal and/or management all the pieces.
One way or the other the remainder of us will get cake, proper?
What GM Ought to Do
It might appear penny-wise to halt manufacturing of the Bolts and abandon the decrease finish of the market proper now. There are larger earnings to be made up-market. However, that’s what all people is doing!
GM will probably be able the place it has no actual aggressive benefit in opposition to each different firm making an attempt to transition to EVs if it doesn’t decide to providing one thing within the $30k worth vary on a shorter timetable.
So, GM must get critical about reasonably priced Ultium autos if it needs to impress automobile patrons and buyers. From day one, the Equinox EV must be accessible at affordable volumes in its lowest $30k trims. There additionally must be an announcement ASAP of a TrailBlazer EV and/or Trax EV with specs just like the Bolt EUV, however with 150 kW charging, accessible for beneath $30k, and no later than 2025 (2024 can be higher). Whereas GM is doing this, it could even be a good suggestion to supply a Bolt EUV with Ultium cells and 100-150 kW charging to carry down the sub-$30k fort till one thing higher may be provided.
If GM can’t provide one thing reasonably priced, it’s as unserious as all people else, and needs to be handled as such.
Featured picture: a Bolt EUV and the sundown, by Jennifer Sensiba.
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