GM Signals It May Unplug Its Once-Revolutionary Electric Vehicle Chevy Bolt Soon

GM plans to build these electric pickups by 2024 at its plant in Orion Township, Michigan. The factory now houses the Bolt and the slightly larger Bolt EUV. And no new locations for the Bolt were included in Tuesday’s announcement.

“Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV production will continue while plant conversion activities are underway to prepare the facility for production of the Silverado EV and Sierra EV pickup trucks,” GM spokesman Dan Flores said. “We are not disclosing any additional information at this time on the production of Bolt EV or Bolt EUV.”

Although GM (GM) said it would continue production of the Bolt, the truth is that it hasn’t built a new Bolt since mid-November and has hardly built any since late August, not one selling just 25 in the United States in the last three months of 2021.
At issue is a recall of virtually all existing bolts due to the risk of fire when cars are parked and refueled, which will require new batteries for 143,000 bolts recalled. This left GM without the batteries needed to build new bolts.

“Orion is currently down until February, so we can continue to focus LG battery production on recall repairs,” Flores said. Last month, GM only planned to keep production going until January. As for when production can finally resume, Flores said, “GM hasn’t made a decision beyond February yet.”

Once a revolutionary car

The bolt was the first purely electric vehicle offered by GM since it sold a limited-production Chevy EV1 in California in 1996. It debuted to strong reviews in late 2016, including winning Green Car of the Year and Motor Trend Car of the Year honors.
It was essentially the only electric vehicle sold by GM in North America until this month, when the GMC Hummer EV pickup went on sale. GM only sold one of these pickups before closing the books in 2021.
GM aims to convert half of its North American assembly capacity to electric vehicle production by 2030 and to offer only electric vehicles by 2035. and the Cadillac Lyriq, which is expected to start production in the first quarter 2022.

These new vehicles — and all future GM electric vehicles — have a different battery to the Bolt, dubbed Ultium, that promises superior performance. On Tuesday, GM and LG Energy Solutions also announced plans for a $2.6 billion battery plant in Lansing, Michigan, not far from Orion Township. But that will make it difficult for GM to sell Bolts with an inferior battery, even if the fire issue is resolved.

And the Bolt is tiny – even the slightly larger Bolt EUV is just over 14 feet or 170 inches long. Although it’s a few inches longer than the original, it’s about a foot shorter than a compact Toyota Corolla, although it has a bit more interior space and cargo capacity because it doesn’t has no engine.

Other GM electric vehicles cost significantly more

Its next generation of electric vehicles is aimed at a wealthier population. Hummer EVs start at between $80,000 and $110,000, while the Lyriq starts at $59,000. Pricing for the Silverado EV has yet to be announced, but it will likely fall within that range.

And GM faces more competition for the cheaper Bolt. Ford (F) is tripling its own production of its Mustang Mach E electric SUV to meet strong demand.
It helps GM have a low-cost EV to go with the more expensive models it will sell soon, especially with rivals such as Ford (F), volkswagen (VLKAF) and You’re here (TSLA) offering electric vehicles for less than a starting price of $45,000.
But the Bolt has a price disadvantage when competing with Ford and Volkswagen, as those companies’ EVs come with a $7,500 federal tax credit for buyers. GM’s hopes of recouping this tax credit for its VE seems to have died with the apparent failure of the Biden administration’s Build Back Better legislation.

The Bolt was originally positioned as the first mainstream car from any automaker, rather than a luxury car, capable of going over 200 miles on a single charge.

GM called customer reaction to the Bolt good. The company said it had over 90% customer satisfaction at the start of 2021 – albeit before the recall. GM has since had to repurchase Bolts from customers who feared the vehicles would catch fire and had no safe place to park them.
The Bolt also had the highest “conquest rate” of any Chevrolet car, with approximately 70% of Bolt buyers switching to GM from other automakers. And GM recently redesigned the Bolt, introducing the slightly larger Bolt EUV, indicating that it plans to keep the car in its lineup for five years or more.

Those plans now seem unlikely.

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