Chevrolet Optimistic About Its Bolt EV – CleanTechnica

Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Published on May 17th, 2016 |
by Steve Hanley


May 17th, 2016 by  

Originally published on Gas2.

When the Los Angeles Times spoke recently with Shad Balch, Chevrolet’s new products manager, it asked him a lot of questions about the Chevy Bolt, which is due out later this year. The first thing it wanted to know was whether the Bolt would steal sales from the Volt, Chevy’s plug-in hybrid car.

2017-Chevrolet-BoltEV-013-1024x683Not really, Balch answered. “These are different cars for different consumers. The Bolt EV will be the vehicle for someone who wants a daily driver that uses no fuel and produces no emissions. The Volt is for someone who still needs a car with a gasoline engine that can make that long drive.”

Next, the Times wanted to know about the recent study from which claims that current EV and plug-in owners are trading in their cars for crossovers and SUVs. Balch says Chevrolet isn’t worried.

“We’re at about the 100,000 mark for Volts sold and we are the No. 1 bestselling plug-in hybrid in the U.S. We’re at the top of the customer satisfaction studies. Anecdotally, I know we have a lot of Volt customers waiting for their leases to expire so they can replace them with a new Volt.”

In an era of unusually low gas prices, how do you get people excited about saving money on gasoline? “That’s the challenge,” Balch said. “We have to get people to drive the car. Once they do, they realize it’s not just about the price of gas. It’s about the performance — the torque at zero RPM, the silence, the lack of vibration. These are things we try to engineer into gasoline-powered cars, but they’re all inherent in electric vehicles.”

Balch’s words underline what many people are beginning to realize about EVs in general. People say they care about fuel economy, but they really don’t. If they did, they would not be beating down the doors at car dealers across the land begging to buy the biggest, heaviest, thirstiest crossovers, SUVs, and pickup trucks they can find.

It is well known that people buy on emotion and justify their decision afterwards with facts. In other words, sell the sizzle, not the steak. So don’t focus on how green the car is or how it protects the environment. Focus on how the car makes the people inside feel about driving an electric car. That’s the key to unlocking more sales.

Balch went on to say that all the positive buzz about the upcoming Tesla Model 3 is good for electric car sales in general. Elon Musk acknowledges that his goal is not to sell every electric car made. It is to spur other companies to build high quality electric cars so customers have a choice of many models. The market has room for Mustangs and Camaros, F 150’s and Silverados, and Camrys and Civics.

Speaking of the favorable press Tesla is getting, Balch tells the Times, “It helps. It helps the whole industry. Every story about the Model 3 includes a mention of the Bolt EV and our target date is ahead of theirs. We’re on track. Pre-production models have rolled off the line about six weeks ago. We are on schedule to begin production at the end of this year, with deliveries to start immediately afterward.”

Lastly, he spoke about the price of the Chevy Bolt compared to the Model 3. Many people think top versions of the Model 3 could sell for as much as $60,000, especially since Elon Musk admitted last week that the car would definitely have a Ludicrous Mode option. That feature costs an extra $10,000 on the Model S and Model X. Chevrolet’s goal are more modest, Balch says.

“There will be some options, but the base car will have most of our content and connectivity features, including active safety features. That will all be standard from the lower trim level.”

The Chevy Bolt and the Tesla Model 3. Different strokes for different folks. And it’s all good.

Reprinted with permission.

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About the Author

writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Rhode Island. You can follow him on Google + and on Twitter.

  • Great points in this article. I do think that Chevy might need to be a little more aggressive on pricing to move Bolts. If they hit the right price point they will sell a lot of them. $24,995? $149/month? Not sure where that line is but $30 something K sounds high to this consumer.

  • I generally prefer not to Trash Tesla I have done it a few times simple because the Tesla fans were Bashing the Bolt endlessly. But I prefer a world where we keep our Bashing to ICE vehicles.

    • You are right. And it sounds like Bolt will be compelling car. Almost. Except it’s not full car because there is no reasonable to go further than about 200 miles. Bolt could be competitive to Model3 if it could use some kind of supercharging. But right now it’s only daily commuter. Everybody who want to be able to take road trip if required will buy Volt.
      And I’m not bashing Bolt. I’m begging GM: Tesla could do this supercharging network and you can’t? You are 100 times bigger. For God’s sake do it and be real competition to Tesla.

  • Thanks for no longer bashing Tesla. There is a HUGE market for cars of all shapes, size and price. There is more than enough room for GM/Ford/BMW/VW and Tesla to all play a role.

    Historically the USA car fleet takes 10 years to turn over. Even if Tesla can crank out 400,000 per year that still leave room for everyone else.

    I am looking forward to a test drive of the Bolt, I have been is a Volt and a Tesla S, when I need a new car in late 2017 (current plan) I hope to have several options.

  • “Every story about the Model 3 includes a mention of the Bolt EV and our target date is ahead of theirs.” – Balch.

    So GM fans, do not bash Tesla! Both Tesla and GM’s competing in several ways would be truly good for the EV revolution. This excellent coopetition unfolding that would benefit the customers and the planet!

    if you noticed for some time now, I have stopped bashing Tesla.

    • That’s a good plan because the model 3 is way beyond the Bolt. The Bolt looks like a good EV and would have normally been a major accomplishment. It will sell well enough, I think, because it is second best and actually available.

      The second model 3 reveal is likely going to show some very advanced driver control features.


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