I have a neighbor, a former GM employee, who drives a Chevy Bolt EUV. It’s a very attractive car in burgundy red and he is quite happy with it, aside from the fact it doesn’t charge very fast on the highway so rest stops take longer than he would like. He told me a few months ago that Chevy would discontinue the Bolt/Bolt EUV this year. He knows I write for CleanTechnica and asked me not to share the news until GM made an official announcement. I agreed.
On April 25, GM made it official during its Q1 earnings call. CEO Mary Barra announced production of the Bolt EV and Bolt EUV would end this year. “When the Chevrolet Bolt EV launched, it was a huge technical achievement and the first affordable EV, which set in motion GM’s all-electric future,” Cody Williams, senior manager for communications at Chevy, said in a statement reported by The Verge. “As the company continues to grow its EV portfolio with the Ultium platform, and as construction continues at the Orion Township, Michigan assembly plant in preparation for battery electric truck production beginning in 2024, Chevrolet confirmed Bolt EV and EUV production will end late this year.”
On the Reddit EV forum, one owner posted a notice he got from Chevrolet that said, “Thank you for being a Chevrolet Bolt EUV owner. We appreciate that you entrusted us with your electric vehicle purchase experience.
“Because you are so important to us, we want to bring you firsthand news that we will no longer be producing the Bolt EV and EUV after the end of the year. Rest assured, that all the support that you have come to expect with your Bolt EUV will continue even though we are ending production of this vehicle. And if you are interested in purchasing a new 2023 model, you still can do so.”
Out With The Old, In With The New
There is such a thing as a “successful failure.” Something may not turn out quite the way it was expected to, but there are always lessons learned that can be applied in the future. The Apollo 13 moon mission was considered a successful failure because the crew survived and NASA learned a lot about what can go wrong in space travel. Last week’s SpaceX launch that ended four minutes after liftoff is also being called a successful failure because the company will learn from its mistakes and that knowledge will make future rockets more reliable.
In the world of EVs, we might consider the BMW i3 to be a successful failure. It taught BMW a lot about what does and doesn’t work when it comes to manufacturing an electric car, even though it never sold in large numbers. Its biggest flaw was very short range that limited how owners could use the car. When I did the Global EV Road Trip in Dubai several years ago, we were always waiting for the i3 that was part of the tour to catch up because it needed to stop to recharge so often.
The Chevy Bolt might also qualify as a successful failure. It was GM’s first foray into a mass-produced EV with a lithium-ion battery and it was the beginning of an ongoing collaboration with LG Chem, which has now renamed its battery division LG Energy Solution. That collaboration continued as GM developed its Ultium platform, the next step in the company’s electric car development. Ultium will replace the now obsolete BEV2 platform that is the basis of the Bolt and Bolt EV.
The problem with battery fires certainly didn’t help the Bolt in the marketplace. Even though the number of fires was small, the public relations hit was enormous, as was the disruption in the lives of owners who had to navigate the challenges of getting their batteries replaced. But again, LG and GM both learned valuable lessons from that issue, lessons that will improve the batteries in electric cars of the future.
The Chevy Bolt beat the Tesla Model 3 to market as the first long-range, semi-affordable electric car on the US market — a clear success. (The Renault Zoe beat both of them to market in Europe.) However, you don’t need to be an EV expert to know that the Model 3 has seen far more sales success than the Chevy Bolt.
The Chevy Bolt And Affordability
The Bolt is one of the least expensive EVs available in America today, with a starting price of around $24,000. It is also eligible for the full $7,500 federal EV tax credit, which could make it one of the cheapest cars in America. It’s a pretty good car, despite being somewhat dated. It still has a range of over 260 miles, which in unheard of in a car with a potential net price of less than $17,000.
The next lowest price model from Chevrolet will be the Equinox, due to go on sale next year with a starting price of “around $30,000,” according to GM. That word “around” can be slippery. The chances are the Equinox will end up selling for about $10,000 more than the Bolt.
There is some consternation that the Orion factory will transition to building electric pickup trucks. On the Reddit forum, several people speculated that the loss of the Bolt/Bolt EUV could open a door for Volkswagen to bring its upcoming ID.2all to America, but that seems unlikely. Volkswagen has its sights set on launching its new Scout brand of electric off-road vehicles. It seems to have little interest in offering any models in the US below the ID.4.
Autoblog said today it seems odd that Chevrolet would announce the end of production of a car that is one of the most affordable EVs in America without introducing a potential successor. When it asked the question of a GM press agent, it got the “we don’t talk about future models” line, which could mean anything. It notes that Mary Barra herself has hinted her company is working on something more affordable than the Equinox, although what that might be is a tightly guarded secret.
Chevrolet actually sold 19,700 Bolts/EUVs in the first quarter of 2023. That’s more than the number of Blazers, Colorados, or Suburbans sold in the same period. By contrast, the Nissan LEAF, which is just as obsolete as the Bolt, sold only 2,300 units in the first quarter.
The sad news for America is that unless and until Chinese EVs start finding their way to US showrooms, the number of affordable EVs for sale in America will be limited to the LEAF, a car even more outdated than the Bolt.
The takeaway is that, with this change, no one is making affordable electric cars for American consumers who need basic transportation — not GM, not Ford, not Stellantis, not Hyundai/Kia, not Toyota or Honda. Nobody. That leaves a potentially huge opportunity for someone and it wouldn’t surprise us here at CleanTechnica intergalactic headquarters if that somebody is a Chinese brand that opens a factory in Mexico to build cars for the American market. We didn’t say BYD, but we are certainly thinking it.
RIP, Chevy Bolt EV and Bolt EUV. You were pretty good cars for the money. You will be missed.
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