Chevrolet Bolt axed: A glance again at America’s most cost-effective EV

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Chevrolet is pruning its backyard, with the all-electric Bolt EV and Bolt EUV the newest casualties, each of which can stop manufacturing by the top of 2023.

Not like the Camaro, which is being axed primarily due to slowing gross sales and a shrinking market phase, gross sales of the Bolt are literally on the rise. (Extra on that later.)

As an alternative, the automaker says it’s discontinuing the Bolt in an effort to retool the manufacturing facility in Orion Township, Michigan to supply the Chevrolet Silverado EV and the GMC Sierra EV. Each are based mostly on the corporate’s devoted body-on-frame EV structure, additionally discovered beneath the GMC Hummer, and use the automaker’s Ultium battery know-how.

Manufacturing of those two pickup vehicles is anticipated to start a while in 2024. It’s probably these two pickups, in addition to the high-end Cadillac and mid-size Chevrolet EVs the corporate is busy launching, provide a sooner path to profitability than the Bolt.

All concerning the Benjamins

When the final new Bolt is bought, it should depart a gap within the US marketplace for a very inexpensive EV.

Provided that Chinese language automakers have to this point shied away from America, and EV tax credit from the Biden administration’s Inflation Discount Act solely apply to vehicles produced in North America, it may be some time earlier than one other automobile takes the Bolt’s mantle.

On the time of writing, the Bolt EV begins at US$26,500 (A$40,000), whereas the marginally bigger Bolt EUV begins at US$27,800 ($42,000). Each qualify for the US authorities’s US$7500 tax credit score, bringing the acquisition to round US$20,000 ($30,000) — about US$1000 lower than the value of an entry-level Toyota Corolla sedan.

Even Chevrolet’s new Equinox EV, which can provide extra typical styling, has a focused base value of US$30,000 ($45,400).

It’s a giant step up from the outgoing Bolt to the subsequent most cost-effective fashions: the Hyundai Kona EV ($33,550), and Nissan Leaf (US$36,040). Each of those vehicles are imported, and don’t qualify for the tax credit score.

We should always notice, again when the Bolt was launched in 2016, it was dearer than the then-reigning EV champ, the first-generation Nissan Leaf, which began at US$30,600 however had a mere 78kW of energy, and its petite 30kWh battery was solely good for 172km of driving.

Whereas the Bolt could have been a boon for EV fans with an eye fixed for a cut price, it hasn’t been a worthwhile enterprise for GM. Relying on which analyst you consider, the automaker has misplaced someplace between US$5000 and US$8000 on every Bolt bought.

Coming into manufacturing in late 2016, the Bolt beat the Tesla Mannequin 3 to market by over half a yr. Throughout each vehicles’ improvement, each producers claimed they had been busy designing an inexpensive EV for the lots, with goal pricing of US$35,000.

Ultimately, Chevrolet was not too far off with the bottom LT kicking issues off at US$37,495, or a smidge lower than the Mercedes-Benz CLA earlier than you issue within the US$7500 federal tax credit score.

In the meantime Tesla determined to give attention to dearer variants of the Mannequin 3, though it did finally (briefly) hit the US$35,000 goal with the store-order solely Commonplace Vary mannequin.

Small automobile, lengthy vary, big-ish value

Though the Bolt is inbuilt Michigan, it was designed by GM’s studio in South Korea — a results of the corporate’s buy of Daewoo in 2002.

The automobile additionally featured a battery pack made by LG Chem in South Korea, though in later years battery manufacturing shifted to the US. Rated at 60kWh, the Bolt had US EPA vary ranking of 383km, greater than sufficient for many day by day conditions.

Highway-trips, although, had been and nonetheless are a difficulty. Though the Mannequin 3’s 170kW DC charging pace far eclipsed the Bolt’s 55kW most when fitted with its non-obligatory quick charging system, the principle difficulty was the dearth of dependable public quick chargers outdoors of massive inhabitants centres.

Geared up with an electrical motor making 149kW and 361Nm, the front-wheel drive Bolt was surprisingly spritely with a 0-60mph (0-97km/h) time of round 6.5 seconds.

Measuring 4166mm lengthy, 1765mm vast, 1595mm tall, and using on a 2601mm wheelbase, the Bolt is about 100mm bigger in each dimension, besides top, than the Honda Jazz.

Just like the Jazz, the Bolt has a spacious inside for a small footprint. Whereas it included a powerful quantity of in-cabin know-how for the time, the onerous plastics and diminutive dimension didn’t gel with its US$35,000 price ticket.

From its launch in 2017 till GM’s sale of Opel/Vauxhall to the PSA Group, the Bolt was bought in Europe because the Opel Ampera-e, a observe as much as the plug-in hybrid Opel Ampera, a frivolously redesigned model of the Chevrolet Volt.

Because the Bolt has solely ever been inbuilt left-hand drive, there was no Vauxhall model, and no official UK gross sales.

Facelift

After gaining a bigger 66kWh battery in 2020, the Bolt was given a facelift in 2021.

The revised Bolt EV featured a brand new entrance finish with skinny headlights, a grille-less bumper, new tail-lights, a revised tailgate, and a US$5000 ($7500) value reduce.

The vary additionally gained a extra spacious EUV mannequin with an extended wheelbase and a novel, however nonetheless very acquainted, exterior.

At 4305mm lengthy, 1770mm vast, 1615mm tall, and using on a 2675mm wheelbase, the EUV is 139mm longer, 5mm wider, 20mm taller, and has a 74mm longer wheelbase than the common Bolt EV.

Whereas there have been no modifications to the drivetrain or battery techniques, each the Bolt EV and EUV did profit from a redesigned dashboard, and improved entrance seats.

The Bolt EUV additionally gained 55kW DC charging as commonplace, and was the primary Chevrolet-branded automobile to achieve the choice of GM’s Tremendous Cruise Degree 2 autonomous driving system, which permits the driving force to place the automobile into hands-free driving mode on pre-approved highways within the US and Canada.

My automobile is on fireplace

A collection of battery fires finally led to GM pausing gross sales in mid-2021, and advising homeowners to solely cost their vehicles outside, and solely to 90 per cent of most capability.

Ultimately all 141,000 Bolts bought to this point had been recalled, and finally fitted with a redesigned battery modules. LG agreed to pay US$1.9 billion ($2.9 billion) of the US$2 billion ($3 billion) in prices.

GM mentioned some battery packs had a “torn anode tab and a folded separator” in some cells, which meant they had been susceptible to shorting and overheating, particularly when the pack was near full.

Along with this, the automaker informed Autoweek “the Bolt EV doesn’t have the design function to disconnect a person battery cell”, which means one of these failure was managed by lowering total capability.

Not lengthy after gross sales resumed in April 2022, Chevrolet took the drastic step of slicing the Bolt EV’s value by round US$10,000 to US$26,495. The EUV was additionally discounted by US$6300 to US$28,195.

Gross sales

In 2017, its first full yr on sale, the Chevrolet Bolt had little competitors apart from the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3, and managed a decent 23,297 gross sales.

After the Mannequin 3 overcame “manufacturing hell” in 2017, the place simply 1667 had been bought Stateside, Tesla was capable of promote 140,317 in 2018, blowing nicely previous the Bolt’s meagre whole of 18,020.

That mentioned, the Bolt’s gross sales trajectory is bending upwards. Regardless of the cease sale order issued on account of battery fires, 24,827 Bolts had been bought in 2021, and 38,122 discovered new houses in 2022 after manufacturing recommenced.

Throughout the first three months of the 2023, the Bolt has notched up 19,700 gross sales.

If the Bolt is by some means capable of sustain with that run charge would equate to 78,800 for your complete yr. Even when it doesn’t, the Bolt will probably bow out on a record-breaking gross sales determine.

MORE: 2024 Chevrolet Equinox EV detailed



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