If you’ve been thinking of buying a Chevrolet Bolt, you might want to hurry up. An email sent out to Bolt customers obtained by The Autopian, and confirmed by a GM spokesperson, confirms that Chevrolet’s entry-level electric car will be discontinued after 2023.
Here’s the email:
The Bolt is one of those rare cars that hit its stride later in life. Despite a massive battery recall, price cuts and incentives ensured that this was pretty much the only affordable long-range EV with a common CCS DC fast charging connector socket. Granted, it’s only rated for 50 kW fast charging, but that’s better than nothing. Indeed, sales have taken off like wildfire, with this six-year-old Chevrolet being the best-selling non-Tesla EV in the third and fourth quarters of 2022.
This email was later confirmed by a GM spokesperson who said:
“When the Chevrolet Bolt EV launched, it was a huge technical achievement and the first affordable EV, which set in motion GM’s all-electric future. As the company continues to grow it’s EV portfolio with the Ultium platform, and as construction continues at the Orion Township, MI, assembly plant in preparation for battery electric truck production beginning in 2024, Chevrolet confirmed Bolt EV and EUV production will end late this year. Chevrolet will launch several new EVs later this year based on the Ultium platform in key segments, including the Silverado EV, Blazer EV and Equinox EV. “
This isn’t entirely unexpected news, as GM has been previewing the move since last year, but the timing is a bit of surprise. As we’ll note later in TMD, GM has revised up its revenue estimates for this year, and GM CEO Mary Barra apparently shared the news on the earnings call this morning.
The Bolt is expected to be replaced with the incoming 2024 Chevrolet Equinox EV which will offer more space and tech, albeit at a higher price. Chevrolet claims an MSRP of around $30,000 for the Equinox EV 1LT, but full details are yet to be revealed. Either way, that works out to around $3,500 more than a base-model Bolt. Range is expected to clock in at around 250 miles, while DC fast charging capability gets a handy boost to 150 kW.
If you feel like affordable new cars are rapidly disappearing, you’re not going crazy. Over the past few years, Honda, Toyota, Chevrolet, Ford, and Hyundai have all pulled out of the subcompact car segment. Edmunds reports that cars priced under $25,000 made up just 4 percent of the market in March compared to 24 percent of the market in March of 2018. With tax incentives pushing the Bolt deep into sub-$25k territory, we’re losing another option in the critical segment of cars normal people can actually afford.
Once the Bolt exits the marketplace, the only option for a sub-$30,000 new EV will likely be the Nissan Leaf S, which features a small 40 kWh battery pack, a less-common CHAdeMO DC fast charging connector, and just 149 miles of range. Fine for city use, but not brilliant for longer road trips. While it’s possible that another manufacturer could surprise us with an affordable long-range EV, the chances of that are low in the near-term.
The saga of the Bolt reminds me a lot of the Pontiac Fiero. Both were promising entry-level vehicles, both were recalled due to fire risks, and GM killed both right as they got good. Granted, the Bolt’s most memorable fire risk came from improperly-manufactured battery packs and resulted in a months-long stop-sale order, but GM and LG eventually corrected the battery pack manufacturing process, sent the Bolt back out into the world, and retrofitted existing cars with new battery packs.
As a way of making over the Bolt’s image, Chevrolet drastically lowered pricing, and highlighted how badly we need affordable new cars in the process. With a red-hot used car market and shocking new vehicle price creep, inexpensive new cars are critical for keeping Americans moving.
(Photo credits: Chevrolet)
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I seem to have missed the right time to buy a Bolt, which was a bit after the news of occasional spontaneous self-immolation reached its mainstream-media peak. I’m sure some folks managed to obtain some killer deals, and were content to wait for a GM-provided battery swap… that’d have been OK w/me.
Gotta say that I’ve never been much of a fan of the Bolt’s styling… I think the Wuling Seagull does the wedgy little hatchback thing more successfully. The Bolt EUV is a bit easier on the eyes than the standard Bolt… maybe it’s a scale thing. Once in a while, I see a Bolt in a nice teal color, and it’s not so bad in that light non-metallic grey either… the EUV in particular. I’m not sure if the teal is a factory color (if so, it’s uncommon) or whether the car(s) I’ve seen were simply wrapped (I’ve seen everything from Civic Type Rs to Lambo Uruses (Urusii?) wrapped in that light/bright shade of teal lately.
I’ll be sorry to see this sub-$30K SUV leave the market, but am hopeful that the upcoming Equinox EV will be decent and that the Ultium platform on which it’s based doesn’t turn out to have any significant flaws (you never know). Of course, even though it’s supposed to be available for about $30K for the base (single motor, standard battery) version, it’ll be impossible to actually buy one at that price for years due to dealer markups… so, probably no Equinox EV for me.
Imagine a world in which people could buy cars directly from manufacturers with the exact options specified, and without dealer markups. While I’m imagining such a utopia, why not pretend that federal and state incentives were simply deducted from the total cost at the time of sale, instead of via often convoluted tax credits, which often keep folks of relatively modest means from getting any help with the purchase, while benefitting richer buyers?
OK, enough fantasizing for a Sunday morning. 😉
You can get rid of dealers but the markup won’t go anywhere for two reasons.
1) The cynical reason is why would manufacturers leave money on the table? People will pay the current price, no reason to offer a discount
2) From a practical perspective the franchise model pushes all the brick and mortar expenses onto the franchisee, things like utilities, real estate, payroll, training, compliance, and a lot more. That all comes out of the dealers markup, and GM will now shoulder those responsibilities and need to pay for them.
’19 Bolt owner here.
This is such a shame, because it’s a class of one for this range and this HP at this price, and it’s a really decent small hatchback in a sea of overpriced, overkill SUVs.
There is a huge market for affordable EVs as second cars that charge at home and rack up commuting miles, like ours does (and the slow DC charge rate doesn’t matter much for that kind of user) – Bolt sales are skyrocketing this year – and if GM hung on to it for just one more year they could move like 80,000 more of them into the hands of customers while getting their replacement EVs ready, instead of ceding that market to the other manufacturers.
Couldn’t agree more. I own a 2017 volt and it is solely my commuter (and in a year my 15 year old’s car). Terrific cars (Volt and Bolt) that I feel just weren’t marketed properly and only took off (the Bolt) because of the recent surge in EV interest.
The Bolt, which I own, is being killed for one reason and one reason only. It’s (relatively speaking) old tech means GM will lose money on every one they build. Ultima is GMs future and the sooner they get selling it the better.
Well that and the fact that the Bolt’s design had a lot of key parts outsourced to LG. And I’m guessing that also contributes to killing the business case for it because it drives up the cost of those key parts because LG needs to make money selling those key parts to GM.
As Sandy Munro said in one of his videos… the key to making money on high-volume BEVs is you have to be vertically integrated. When you outsource key parts, it drives costs way too high combined with often causing integration issues.
That’s an assumption that the Bolts are built at a loss (though if someone from GM has shown the numbers I’ll be happy to be corrected).
The BOLTs have been designed. All that up-front costs is long since spent. Once you’ve amatorized the cost, the longer you can built the same product, the more money you’ll make.
In addition, from what I have heard, auto plants don’t start to break even until they’re running at 80% + of capacity.
So the Bolts have no more engineering costs, and they’re selling them as fast as they can built them with (I assume) a plant running at 100% capacity.
Seems to me GM is embarrassingly premature in the decision to pull the bolts out of the factory. I think there’s a case to be made for GM to continue production for another year or two without and changes, and pocket the margins. Once the next platform is in production, then move on.
The Ultium platform probably won’t be remotely in the black for maybe 3-5 years, GM has a TON of up-front costs to recover before they’ll start making any overall profit on the Ultium platform vehicles. I know they want to recover those costs buy building off the new platform, but why kill a goose laying golden eggs? Surely GM could have figured a way to start production on Ultimum in other plants without killing the car that’s in the most demand right now (I’ve heard Bolts have a 6-day supply on average).
I’d be more that happy to consider a $30K -ish Equinox if GM hadn’t made the idiotic decision to pull Carplay and AA out of them.
I guess it’s all about appeasing wall street investors in the short term instead of looking at the long game. Oh well, there WILL be competitive EVs from others (With CarPlay/AA) so not too worried about choices going forward, but for 2023, there’s no better bargain the the auto world (EV or ICE) than the Bolts IF you qualify for the IRS credit.