200 Mile ALL-ELECTRIC Chevy Bolt Expected to Begin Production in Michigan in 2016

Written By: Assen Gueorguiev (Salt Lake City, Utah)

Chevy All-electric Volt Concept - 2015 Detroit auto show

A Reuters exclusive from Feb 6th, shared with the world GM’s plans to begin production of the Bolt all-electric sub-compact in October 2016. The place – an underutilized plant in Orion Township, Michigan. The initial production target – 25,000 to 30,000 vehicles per year.

Many welcomed this news, while others were skeptical due to the unconfirmed sources and GM’s refusal to comment.

So what was all the fuss about? Let’s take a look:


Expected Price:

At last month’s Detroit Auto Show, the suggested price was $30,000. The report now hints at a price in the mid $30,000s. The truth is, GM has a long way to go before production begins and the car hits the dealerships. With fluctuating government incentives, dynamic competition and somewhat unpredictable economy and gas prices, we will continue to hear different numbers non-stop from here on, until GM officially sets and announces the price.


Timing:

With production possibly beginning in October of 2016, chances are we may not be able to purchase or lease a Bolt until early 2017. And if Chevy decides to play smart, it may come out as a 2018 model. Of course we have to note how quickly the Bolt went from an eye catching Concept to a vehicle set to go in production next year.

No one can predict at this point how well this vehicle will be able to compete, but GM knows that it will have higher chances of success if they hit “stores” before the Tesla Model 3. What are your thoughts? Could that be one of the drivers for speeding up production plans?


Competition:

Let’s expand a bit further on this topic. It’s not a secret that the Bolt’s main competitors will be the Nissan LEAF as well as the Tesla 3, at least within the United States.

But what can give it a true competitive advantage?

It needs to offer things that the others can’t. Examples – lower price, more family oriented design that sits 5 very comfortably and why not even a final design and features that are really appealing?

The EV market is still growing and there’s no question that there will be demand for the Bolt, but we all know that GM has to play its cards right if it wants to succeed. It also has to avoid indirect competition against itself, i.e. the Chevy Spark and the new 2016 Chevy Volt.

Let’s state the obvious truth – the Volt PHEV may actually create more competition for the Bolt than even the so long expected Tesla 3. Why? The new Volt’s 50 mile electric range is too appealing, it may end up being lower priced, AND let’s not forget that it definitely kicks range anxiety to the curb by having a gasoline engine.

Which one of these two appeals more to you?


Production Target:

According to Reuters' two supplier sources, the initial production target is set between 25,000 and 30,000 vehicles per year. Of course that may seem “modest” to some, but let’s not forget that Volt sold a little less than 19,000 cars last year, while the Nissan LEAF crossed the 30,000 mark. We also have to consider that the total numbers may end up being significantly higher if GM decides to produce additional vehicles with the Opel logo in the same factory for export to Europe. According to the report, those intentions haven’t been confirmed yet.

It is logical to worry that the targeted production numbers may be too low to achieve economies of scale and keep the price competitive. Did the GM executives skip Economics 101, and was Elon Musk the only one who attended?

There may be several logical reasons for that decision though. Anything from limited battery supplies to competition’s impact on demand, and even lowering risk. And let’s not forget that GM can always increase production and slash prices if it has the capacity, and if most importantly there’s strong demand.

The Bolt is expected to be on “GM’s Gamma global small-car platform”, which will also be utilized for the next generation Sonic. This is a great chess move for the auto maker as it can help reduce cost and hopefully ensure that the Bolt is profitable from the very beginning.

Chevy Bolt All-Electric Concept (*Click on Images to Enlarge*)


The Name and Final Design:

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There are still many uncertainties around the Bolt.

From the moment this concept was announced as the “Bolt”, the idea behind this vehicle was welcomed by most, alas the name…not so much. The Bolt is probably what the Volt should have been from the very beginning. For years many thought that the Volt was actually an all-electric vehicle and that definitely had some impact on sales. With all the skepticism surrounding the name, please don’t be shocked if GM changes it and makes it more appealing.

The sad truth is that when concepts are involved, what you see is normally not what you get at the end. The Bolt’s exterior though does not look too futuristic and the production version may be toned down just a bit.

But what about the Interior? It definitely catches the eye and doesn’t look like anything we’ve seen in a production GM vehicle so far. This beautiful thin spacious interior may end up being GM’s joker card.

After all, let’s not forget that the Bolt is still considered a CONCEPT for now, and that nothing is certain until GM has made an official announcement.


If you had a magic wand, what parts of the Bolt would you leave, and which ones would you improve on?