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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Chevy Bolt: Real Car or Marketing Ploy?

2017 Chevy Bolt Concept Car
The 2015 Detroit Auto Show is currently underway. One of the big stories from the show is the Chevy Bolt. Yes, that is Bolt with a B.  GM announced that the all-electric concept car will be available in 2017. They say it will have a range of 200 miles and a base price of only $30,000.

You can find dozens of stories about the Bolt. They say things from that is the worst name ever, to this will be the best selling car ever made.

While I hope that GM really does make this car (and that they rename it), I am wondering why they are announcing it now. The new 2016 Volt (with a V) is also being announced at the same auto show. Compared with the old Volt, the new Volt has an increased electric range and better gas mileage in range extended mode. I don't think these Bolt & Volt announcements at the same auto show are a coincidence.

Despite being different technologies, the Volt and the Nissan Leaf have been in competition since they both came out in late 2010. Despite the 2017 model year, this 100% electric, 200 mile range, Bolt announcement (with a price range similar to the Leaf's) will likely reduce sales of the current ~80 mile Leaf.

It is completely understandable that someone may think "Why would I buy a short range EV today, when I can get a 200 mile range car in just a couple of years. I'll just keep driving the car I have until then." Or they may follow it with "I'll lease a PHEV like the Volt for two years and then get a Bolt."

So regardless of whether or not GM ever actually makes the Bolt, just announcing it could put a dent in all sub-100 mile EV sales including GM's own Chevy Spark EV.

Slowing the growth of the 100% electric car market could be just what GM needs to do to help get Volt sales to surpass the Nissan Leaf.

I mean... just look at the car's color; the answer is right there! :)