By David Welch | Bloomberg
General Motors raised eyebrows this month with the Chevrolet Bolt sedan and its slightly larger cousin, the Bolt EUV.
At a time when car supply was incredibly scarce, with dealers often charging thousands of dollars above the sticker and consumers waiting weeks or months to take delivery, GM slashed the price of these electric models. around $6,000.
GM only just started building these vehicles again in April after halting assembly for about nine months as it grappled with a vexing safety issue. The automaker has recalled all of the approximately 142,000 Bolts ever sold due to a rare tendency for their batteries to catch fire. Two months is barely enough to restock dealerships and get a good idea of demand.
So what’s going on here? It looks like GM is trying to buy a bigger share of the EV market while ramping up production of new models at the best price. It must have been painful for Chief Executive Mary Barra to watch fierce rival Ford overtake her company in US electric vehicle sales last year, the Mustang Mach-E wearing the Blue Oval to a second place behind You’re here.
This race for the silver medal will remain fun to watch, with Ford rolling out the F-150 Lightning pickup and GM countering with the GMC Hummer truck and Cadillac Lyriq SUV. Next year, Barra will launch electric versions of the Chevy Silverado pickup and Equinox and Blazer SUVs. The cavalry is always above the hill.
Relying on the Bolt tailgate and EUV for volume in the meantime will be tricky. Both are rather small for a nation of consumers who love their big pickup trucks and SUVs. Both run on GM’s older generation batteries rather than its vaunted Ultium packs. Chevy launched an advertising blitz in April to boost sales when production resumed, but flooding the airwaves is no way to compensate for being outclassed by new competition.
Before the price drop, the Bolt EUV was selling for $33,500. Both GM and Tesla exhausted the $7,500 federal tax credits their US customers were eligible for, putting their electric models at a disadvantage. Kias are still eligible for this incentive, which has brought the cost of the Korean brand’s EV6 down to about $1,000 more than the much older Chevy. Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 is priced similarly.
The advantage also puts Ford’s $45,000 Mustang Mach-E a few thousand dollars off the Bolt EUV, and it’s bigger, newer and sportier. To be fair, the Bolts offer a competitive lineup. The sedan can go 247 miles on a charge, and the EUV gets 259 miles. That compares to 232 miles for the Ioniq 5 and around 220 miles for the Kia EV6 and Mustang Mach-E.
Electric vehicles are now coming to market at a much faster pace. GM may have edged out many non-Tesla automakers with the Bolt, but it didn’t turn out to be the antidote to the Model 3.
GM wants to stay in the race for electric vehicles in the United States while increasing production of Ultium-based vehicles. To do this, the company had no choice but to lower Bolt’s prices.
These won’t be the last budget electric vehicles we’ll see. At some point, models from Ford, Kia and Hyundai will be challenged by something newer and sleeker with better batteries. Shoppers will always have shiny new items to admire as well as duller, demarcated items to consider.
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Post expires at 9:14pm on Wednesday June 22nd, 2022