Chevrolet Optimistic About Its Bolt EV – CleanTechnica


Published on May 17th, 2016 |
by Steve Hanley


May 17th, 2016 by  

Originally published on Gas2.

When the Los Angeles Times spoke recently with Shad Balch, Chevrolet’s new products manager, it asked him a lot of questions about the Chevy Bolt, which is due out later this year. The first thing it wanted to know was whether the Bolt would steal sales from the Volt, Chevy’s plug-in hybrid car.

2017-Chevrolet-BoltEV-013-1024x683Not really, Balch answered. “These are different cars for different consumers. The Bolt EV will be the vehicle for someone who wants a daily driver that uses no fuel and produces no emissions. The Volt is for someone who still needs a car with a gasoline engine that can make that long drive.”

Next, the Times wanted to know about the recent study from which claims that current EV and plug-in owners are trading in their cars for crossovers and SUVs. Balch says Chevrolet isn’t worried.

“We’re at about the 100,000 mark for Volts sold and we are the No. 1 bestselling plug-in hybrid in the U.S. We’re at the top of the customer satisfaction studies. Anecdotally, I know we have a lot of Volt customers waiting for their leases to expire so they can replace them with a new Volt.”

In an era of unusually low gas prices, how do you get people excited about saving money on gasoline? “That’s the challenge,” Balch said. “We have to get people to drive the car. Once they do, they realize it’s not just about the price of gas. It’s about the performance — the torque at zero RPM, the silence, the lack of vibration. These are things we try to engineer into gasoline-powered cars, but they’re all inherent in electric vehicles.”

Balch’s words underline what many people are beginning to realize about EVs in general. People say they care about fuel economy, but they really don’t. If they did, they would not be beating down the doors at car dealers across the land begging to buy the biggest, heaviest, thirstiest crossovers, SUVs, and pickup trucks they can find.

It is well known that people buy on emotion and justify their decision afterwards with facts. In other words, sell the sizzle, not the steak. So don’t focus on how green the car is or how it protects the environment. Focus on how the car makes the people inside feel about driving an electric car. That’s the key to unlocking more sales.

Balch went on to say that all the positive buzz about the upcoming Tesla Model 3 is good for electric car sales in general. Elon Musk acknowledges that his goal is not to sell every electric car made. It is to spur other companies to build high quality electric cars so customers have a choice of many models. The market has room for Mustangs and Camaros, F 150’s and Silverados, and Camrys and Civics.

Speaking of the favorable press Tesla is getting, Balch tells the Times, “It helps. It helps the whole industry. Every story about the Model 3 includes a mention of the Bolt EV and our target date is ahead of theirs. We’re on track. Pre-production models have rolled off the line about six weeks ago. We are on schedule to begin production at the end of this year, with deliveries to start immediately afterward.”

Lastly, he spoke about the price of the Chevy Bolt compared to the Model 3. Many people think top versions of the Model 3 could sell for as much as $60,000, especially since Elon Musk admitted last week that the car would definitely have a Ludicrous Mode option. That feature costs an extra $10,000 on the Model S and Model X. Chevrolet’s goal are more modest, Balch says.

“There will be some options, but the base car will have most of our content and connectivity features, including active safety features. That will all be standard from the lower trim level.”

The Chevy Bolt and the Tesla Model 3. Different strokes for different folks. And it’s all good.

Reprinted with permission.

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writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island. You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter.

  • Great points in this article. I do think that Chevy might need to be a little more aggressive on pricing to move Bolts. If they hit the right price point they will sell a lot of them. $24,995? $149/month? Not sure where that line is but $30 something K sounds high to this consumer.

    • With so much of the car being LG sourced, it’s a matter of what price LG is willing to accept for it, plus GM’s margin. Then the dealers get their cut. There needs to be a way to reduce the number of hands in the till.

      • This seems to me to be part of Tesla’s deep thinking. Keep as much of the profit per car as possible inside the company. That means that even if other companies can match Tesla’s features and quality they will have to charge more to keep their companies running.

        • Thats a key weakness of outsourcing to LGChem. All the companies can do that, but there is little way they can distinguish their offerings with the same drivetrain from a third party. And they cannot lower their costs while purchasing from a supplier the way they could with inside manufacturing.

  • I generally prefer not to Trash Tesla I have done it a few times simple because the Tesla fans were Bashing the Bolt endlessly. But I prefer a world where we keep our Bashing to ICE vehicles.

    • You are right. And it sounds like Bolt will be compelling car. Almost. Except it’s not full car because there is no reasonable to go further than about 200 miles. Bolt could be competitive to Model3 if it could use some kind of supercharging. But right now it’s only daily commuter. Everybody who want to be able to take road trip if required will buy Volt.
      And I’m not bashing Bolt. I’m begging GM: Tesla could do this supercharging network and you can’t? You are 100 times bigger. For God’s sake do it and be real competition to Tesla.

      • I don’t think they’re trying to compete with Tesla head to head-at least yet. And I doubt they want to get into the free energy business. They are looking to sell to commuters who park the car in their garage every night and recharge. If I had a Tesla, I would very rarely use the superchargers. Can’t remember the last time I would have used it. There is a reason superchargers aren’t generally located in major metros.

        • Tesla is starting to install SC inside cities. The first task was to make it possible to drive between cities, to put a SC within range of every Tesla owner’s ‘park and charge’ place.

          • I would bet Model 3, i.e. cheap Telsa, owners will have to choose a supercharger option beyond maybe a few free charges a year plus maybe their home territory (>100 miles), but it will cost additional money. That would likely be turn superchargers into a profit center vs a loss leader. It sounds fair to me, electricity isn’t free.

          • Tesla is starting to install SC inside cities. — Bob_Wallace

            They have been putting SC sites inside cities since the begging all one has to do is look at where the first few SC sites were. They haven’t even came close to covering all the interstates yet alone more rural area’s. I was curse and did a trip planer to a few places I have driven in the past and the default google’s map took me past only 1 charger in over 600 miles of driving. I was able to find a path that worked but it was about 50 miles longer. Then again I was able to find a path using CCS with a few Level 2 chargers in between.

        • If so, there was little advantage in giving it a 200 mile range and 60kwhr battery pack with attendant 37.5k price.
          They could have given it a lower price and city range instead.
          Problem is, either way they couldn’t compete with the Model 3. They would have wound up like Nissan.

      • Yes. Articles like this where GM paints a false picture only make GM look worse.
        The real reason GM Bolt will not steal sales from Volt is that they have crippled Bolt ability to drive long distance.
        How much more deceptive can you get?
        Make a presumptively long range EV, but make it unable to take advantage of its capability, while simultaneously spreading PHEV and HEV to your lineup.
        Its more than transparent that the Bolt is only a marketing move to block the Model 3. That failed.
        How much it sells is just a sideshow. GM has no real commitment to EVs. Its commitment lies elsewhere in its larger investment in PHEV and HEV.
        That means GM is already a day late and a dollar short to the EV revolution. It has a product., but it crippled its own success.

    • Robert, I’ve seen the odd bashing of GM from someone who drops a single comment about the quality of GM cars. (I assume they’re a Ford fan or rightwinger who would have preferred the US economy to go into a depression.)

      I’ve seen legitimate criticism of GM’s lack of dealing with the rapid charging issue. I’ve seen people like and not like the Bolt’s size/form in somewhat equal measures.

      What have you seen that you consider Bolt bashing?

      • I’ve seen legitimate criticism of GM’s lack of dealing with the rapid charging issue. I’ve seen people like and not like the Bolt’s size/form in somewhat equal measures. — Bob_Wallace

        Those that don’t like the style are one thing. Personally I don’t like the look of sedans and prefer mini-van’s / SUV looks myself and they are stating an option.

        The rapid charging questions has 2 sides. Tesla Rapid Charging network opens up travel for Tesla owners however they chose to do so using a property standard that make it nearly impossible for most car makers to take part in. In a sense they made a Laser Disk Player. Well the world is still tiring to decide between Betamax (CHAdeMO) and VHS (CCS).

        Now lets look at some of the bashing I have seen recently.

        Can’t be used for Trip’s and can only be used for local driving. False there are CCS charging stations all over the East and West costs with many places a 200 mile EV can go to.

        Takes 2 to 3 times longer to charge then superchargers. False 1/2 the power doesn’t take 2x the time to charge. Real world numbers by people who have used both suggest more like 15 to 30 mins.

        It is a compliance car. Chevy itself is planing a nation wide release and have never called it a compliance car yet some feel the need to claim it is and that Chevy itself has called it one.

        Chevy can only make 30,000 cars. False Chevy has said more then once it can make more then 30,000 vehicles. The 30,000 number is what they expected to sell not the amount they could sale if demand is higher then expected.

        Of curse their is the general dealerships bashing and trust me I am not always a fan of dealerships but there are some goods ones out there.

  • Thanks for no longer bashing Tesla. There is a HUGE market for cars of all shapes, size and price. There is more than enough room for GM/Ford/BMW/VW and Tesla to all play a role.

    Historically the USA car fleet takes 10 years to turn over. Even if Tesla can crank out 400,000 per year that still leave room for everyone else.

    I am looking forward to a test drive of the Bolt, I have been is a Volt and a Tesla S, when I need a new car in late 2017 (current plan) I hope to have several options.

  • “Every story about the Model 3 includes a mention of the Bolt EV and our target date is ahead of theirs.” – Balch.

    So GM fans, do not bash Tesla! Both Tesla and GM’s competing in several ways would be truly good for the EV revolution. This excellent coopetition unfolding that would benefit the customers and the planet!

    if you noticed for some time now, I have stopped bashing Tesla.

    • That’s a good plan because the model 3 is way beyond the Bolt. The Bolt looks like a good EV and would have normally been a major accomplishment. It will sell well enough, I think, because it is second best and actually available.

      The second model 3 reveal is likely going to show some very advanced driver control features.

      • But unfortunately not available for years unless you’re low on the reservation # list. I bet many people lease a Bolt for 2 years while waiting for their 3 for the next 2-3 years. It’s an appealing thought.


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