GM's Electric Vehicle Plans Begin to Take Shape With New Lower-Priced Chevy Bolts

Source: Chevrolet
  • The all-electric Bolts – a redesigned hatchback and a new crossover – will start at under $34,000.
  • The vehicles are expected to be the first in a full lineup of "affordable" EVs as the automaker brings down costs of its next-generation battery technologies.
  • Newer EVs from GM such as the GMC Hummer due out later this year start at more than $100,000.

DETROIT – General Motors' pivot to become an all-electric vehicle company by 2035 is starting to take shape as the automaker prepares to release two Chevrolet Bolt models this summer ahead of a flagship $113,000 GMC Hummer EV pickup later in the year.

The all-electric Bolts — a redesigned hatchback and a new crossover — will start at under $34,000. They are the beginning of what GM hopes will eventually be a full lineup of "affordable" EVs as the company builds scale to reduce costs of its next-generation electric vehicles such as the Hummer with new battery systems and platforms.

"If you take a look at what the GMC Hummer EV represents and what the Bolt EVs in the body can be represented," said Jesse Ortega, chief engineer of GM's battery electric vehicle architectures. "That gives us really the solid bookends of what we're capable."

It's a two-pronged approach to address the mainstream and luxury markets. The price difference between those "bookends" largely comes down to the battery technologies in the vehicles. The Bolt models are on the automaker's current EV platform and feature batteries that offer less driving range than GM's next-generation Ultium platform and batteries, which will debut on the Hummer EV.  

All three vehicles are part of the automaker's plan to launch 30 new or redesigned EVs through 2025 under a $27 billion investment plan in electric and autonomous vehicles.

"You can see the intentional strategy we have here," said Tony Johnson, director of Chevrolet marketing. "The goal of these two offerings really is to go after Main Street and really start to spread EV adoption across the board. The other brands within the company, obviously they each have their own role to fill in our journey here."

GM has no plans to move the Bolts onto the next-generation platform, Ortega said.

Profitable EVs

CEO Mary Barra and President Mark Reuss have said GM's next-generation vehicles will be profitable, unlike the Bolt EV. Johnson and other GM officials declined to comment on whether the Bolt models launching later this year will be profitable.

After being in market for four years, the GM engineering team has done a "phenomenal job driving quality, driving consistency and driving cost out of the system," Johnson said. He said the advancements led the company to lower price of the Bolt.

Source: Chevrolet

The new 2022 Bolt utility vehicle will start at $33,995. That compares with the Bolt EV's $31,995 – more than $5,000 lower from the 2021 model.

Profitable or not, the vehicles give GM an EV priced below other competitors such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E crossover at $43,000 (before an up to $7,500 federal tax credit that GM and Tesla buyers are no longer eligible to receive) and Tesla Model 3, which starts at about $37,000.

The Bolt EV has a range of 259 miles on full charge while the Bolt EUV hits 250 miles. GM's vehicles with Ultium technology are expected to achieve up to 450 miles per charge.

GM also has added additional tech to the Bolt models to make them more competitive. Most notably, The Bolt EUV will be the first from Chevrolet equipped with GM's hands-free Super Cruise semi-autonomous highway driving system, which uses facial recognition to identify whether the driver is paying attention so there's no need for them to touch the steering wheel while the system is operating.

'Everybody in'

Offering the lower-priced vehicles is part of the company's new "everybody in" marketing campaign focused on growing EV adoption. In doing so, the company hopes to attract new buyers to the segment and retain them for years to come. That includes potentially having them trade in a lower-priced vehicle for a next-generation EV as the cost comes down.

Source: Chevrolet

"Our vision is we want customers for life," Ortega said. "So as their needs grow and as their lifestyle changes, we want to offer them an EV for that."

A linchpin to that reduction in cost is expected to be GM making its own battery cells through a joint venture with LG Chem in Ohio. The $2.3 billion facility is under construction and is expected to be completed in 2022.

Copyright CNBC
Contact Us