The most highly anticipated electric car* of the year is the Chevy Bolt. I need not say yet again that it isn’t a certain other car,** but it is also hard to discuss the Bolt without bringing up its top competition. Anyhow, the Chevy Bolt will be the first long-range, affordable electric car to market, and it is rumored to be arriving sooner than many expected — in October of this year.
Jeff Cobb of GM-Volt.com found out that GM’s 2017 Fleet Guide included a “start of regular production” date of October for the Bolt, but GM has since pulled the document and edited it to remove that date. Here’s a screenshot nabbed before the document was pulled and edited:
Why was the document removed and edited? Who knows? The most likely reasons I can think are 1) GM simply doesn’t want the production time indicated yet, especially if deliveries won’t begin for a while after production begins; and/or 2) GM isn’t confident it will be able to start regular production in October. Either way, though, I think the good news is that we can indeed expect product and deliveries to begin in the 4th quarter of this year, and a GM representative confirmed that plan to Jeff upon inquiry.
Of course, GM is likely eager to get production rolling ASAP so that it can capitalize on the short lead time it has ahead of Tesla beginning Model 3 production. (Whoops, I named the car.) While the majority of soon-to-be EV buyers seem set to wait it out for the Model 3, those in need of a car sooner than later may well jump on the Bolt bandwagon. (Of course, there are many who wouldn’t consider it, but a small percentage of 400,000–500,000 people could still be a considerable number.)
GM has previously stated that the Bolt would roll out nationwide all at once. But Jeff now quotes Fred Ligouri of Chevrolet communications stating, “While distribution plans are not yet finalized, we want to first satisfy demand in markets where EV acceptance is strongest.”
The new Chevy Volt was supposed to quickly be available nationwide, but it is apparently still not at dealerships in Florida (where my mom wanted to test drive it) and other East Coast states … as well as those ones in “flyover states,” I’m sure. GM’s Britta Gross talked a bit about the challenges of nationwide EV rollout here, if you want more nuance on that matter.
We’ll find out more about the rollout plans as October approaches and be sure to let you know as soon as we have any notable details. Stay tuned.
*And, thus, the most highly anticipated car for us at CleanTechnica.
**If you missed these, here are results from broad surveys we conducted last year about EV preferences and likely purchases. I doubt things have changed very much since that time, but if they have, I really doubt they’ve changed in favor of the Bolt.
One key reason the Model 3 is preferred by consumers is that Tesla has the Supercharger network, with stations that are widely dispersed in practical locations (unlike the CCS/SAE Combo fast-charging network the Bolt will be able to use), can charge a car about twice as fast as the stations in the CCS/SAE Combo network, and are much more reliable.
Also, Tesla is now known for performance and cutting-edge technology (e.g., semi-autonomous driving, over-the-air updates, fancy touchscreens, etc), and the Model 3 is widely expected to trump the Bolt on these fronts.
You also have that fact that Tesla is a 100% electric vehicle company, and GM is far from it, and many buyers are likely to trust Tesla over any other company in this market. (Of course, you will also have some people who will trust the legacy automakers more.)
From that study noted above, 55% of respondents who didn’t yet have an EV expected to get the Model 3, while 17% expected to get the Bolt. Among people who already had an EV, 39% expected their next EV to be the Model 3, while 6% expected it the be the Chevy Bolt.
With this study, note that it was long before the Model 3 was unveiled and, of course, before Elon Musk announced new plans to increase Tesla production to 500,000 cars per year by 2018 (rather than 2020). Both of those things have likely encouraged more people to favor the Model 3, imho.
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