GM could change Chevy ‘Bolt’ name

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

General Motors Co. executives said Tuesday the company could change the “Bolt” name for the company’s planned new electric small crossover that will get 200 miles of range on a single charge.

GM trademarked the name, but have faced questions about whether the Chevy Bolt is too similar to the Chevrolet Volt, the plug-in hybrid electric car that will get about 50 miles on a single charge before shifting to a gasoline engine.

GM North American President Alan Batey said the company needs to communicate the name. “Bolt is the brother of the Volt — a bolt of lightning. It’s all to do with electricity,” he said in an interview. “We’re going to have a lot of time to communicate this and bring it to life. It’s a concept so we’re just playing with the name right now and our job is not to confuse people.”

Batey says by linking Bolt and Volt, “You create awareness overnight.” Batey said the company will explore how the name is received before making a decision. The company has said it wouldn’t be laying out the level of detail on the vehicle if it wasn’t serious about building it, but hasn’t confirmed reports that it is already planning to build the EV by 2017.

The Bolt and Volt will be close in price, but Batey said they are very different cars and the company is “looking for different customers.”

Green Car Reports posted a story headlined: “Why ‘Bolt’ is a really terrible name for Chevy’s electric car.”

“We can understand why GM’s marketers would want to allude to the Volt in naming a new, all-electric model,” wrote John Voelcker. “To say that there will be a great deal of confusion at dealerships between the Chevy Bolt and the Chevy Volt would be a gross understatement. And that’s not even starting to address the issue of, ummmmm, bolt jokes.”

GM product chief Mark Reuss said the name is only for the concept. “It’s a concept name. End of story, so we’ll see,” Reuss said, adding the company will look for feedback from auto journalists and customers before deciding on a final name.

GM conducted research on the name. “The name by itself is very good, but when you put it with Volt you know — is it too confusing for someone? — we’ll find out,” Reuss said. “We have an open mind. ... We’ll see what happens in the show and see if people like or don’t like it. ... We’re very flexible.”