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GM Bolt long range affordable EV
GM Bolt long range affordable EV

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GM Greenlights Affordable Electric Chevy Bolt Production

While Apple and Tesla are set to duke it out for a share of the EV market, GM forges ahead with production of the its new affordable EV, the Bolt.

Just a few days ago, we took note of a rumor that GM will build its new affordable EV, the Bolt, at the company’s home base in Michigan. Yesterday, the company made it official. The new Bolt will go rolling off the line at GM’s Orion Assembly in Orion Township. The facility will get a $200 million makeover to produce the all-electric Bolt, which boasts an enviable 200+ mile range at an anticipated price of about $30,000.

Looks like that rumor sure had some stuffing behind it. There’s been a big buzz about the Bolt concept ever since GM unveiled it at the Detroit Auto Show last month, partly because its relatively low cost and long range put it in competition with Tesla’s plans for an affordable EV, and could be a big breakthrough for the industry.

We also heard a rumor that Apple may be duking it out with Tesla for EV market share, but before we get too distracted, let’s take a look at GM’s official Bolt announcement.

GM Bolt long range affordable EV

An Affordable EV To “Completely Shake Up The Status Quo”

Here’s the money quote from GM North America President Alan Batey, referring the Bolt concept:

The message from consumers about the Bolt EV concept was clear and unequivocal: Build it. We are moving quickly because of its potential to completely shake up the status quo for electric vehicles.

Speaking of shaking up the status quo, the Republican Michigan Governor Rick Snyder seems to have completely blown off his party’s distaste for electric vehicles.

Governor Snyder’s contribution to the GM press release was an unapologetic, extended cheer for the Bolt.

Let’s also note that Snyder signed a transportation package last month, which included a measure taxing compressed natural gas and other alternative fuels. A surcharge on EVs was in the works, but it appears that item did not make it into the final package.

Snyder did take some flack last year for signing a law that strengthened a ban on direct sales by auto manufacturers, thereby preventing Tesla from exercising its business model in the state. Our sister site GAS2.org, though, noted that the Governor used the occasion to pitch for a “discussion” about Michigan’s direct sales law.



An Affordable EV Made With Solar Energy & Landfill Gas

The use of the Orion plant add an extra green sizzle to the Bolt’s EV sparkle. Orion Assembly runs on fumes from two nearby landfills (landfill gas, to be more precise), and it also hosts a solar array owned by DTE Energy.

The landfill gas is used for heat in a new “eco-paint” process that eschews the conventional primer oven. According to GM, the new process uses half the energy of the old one.

Other items of interest at Orion Assembly include a lighting upgrade that includes real-time energy tracking to boost efficiency.

What About The Volt?

No, GM is not ditching the Volt gas/electric hybrid vehicle. Along with the Bolt concept, GM unveiled the new Volt at the Detroit Auto Show:

new Volt  EV photo by Tina Casey

Snazzy, right? We’ve been gushing about the Volt since GM first launched it in 2010. The car is designed to banish any range issues a person might have by switching seamlessly to gasoline if the battery runs down.

We’re thinking that even though the Bolt’s 200-mile range could shave off some Volt customers, for the foreseeable future, there will still be demand for an affordable plug-in electric hybrid that offers the performance of all-electric drive with the familiar safety cushion of gasoline.

For that matter, the last time we checked into Edmunds true cost-of-ownership calculator, the Volt was stacking up quite nicely against other hybrids.

Follow me on Twitter and Google+.

Related: GM: We Will Seriously, Definitely Produce The Chevy Bolt

Photo Credit: Chevy Bolt (top) and Chevy Volt (bottom) at Detroit Auto Show, both by Tina Casey.

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Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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