Chevy Bolt EV to ship to dealers in fourth quarter

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, a pure-electric vehicle with a 200-mile-plus range, will begin shipping to dealers in the fourth quarter, General Motors Co. North America President Alan Batey said Wednesday.

Batey told reporters that the car — expected to be priced around $30,000 after a federal tax rebate — will sell below the average sales price of a vehicle sold in the U.S.

“We’re pioneering here with a product that the world’s never seen,” Batey said.

GM and Chevrolet have not released the care’s exact expected range or its price.

The Bolt is an important vehicle for Chevrolet and GM. Batey said Chevy is working on different ways to launch the car and interact with customers, but he said it was too early to disclose those ideas. The Bolt, unlike some EVs, will be available to buy in all 50 states.

It will be produced at the company’s Orion Assembly Plant in Orion Township. Some test cars have already been spotted locally in recent weeks.

The company will be introducing the pure electric vehicle at a time when gas prices are low and consumer’s appetites for EVs remains lukewarm.

Batey said GM and Chevy had success with the launch of the redesigned Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid electric, which gets an estimated 53 miles in electric mode before a gas engine kicks on for total range of 420 miles.

Volt sales are up 74.5 percent through the first half of the year to about 9,800 sold. The car is quickly turning on dealer lots and has grown retail market share by half a percentage point. Average sales prices for the Volt are up about $1,700 in the first half of 2016 compared to the same months a year ago.

Navigant Research predicts sales of battery and plug-in electric vehicles in North America will grow more than 60 percent this year to nearly 200,000. The firm says growth will come from the Volt, the Bolt EV, Tesla Model X, Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid electric. Electric vehicle sales growth is expected to continue in 2017 and 2018, the firm predicts.

Bolt said the Bolt EV is on a crossover-type platform, has seating for five, lots of interior room and will be loaded with leading technology.

The company has not disclosed its sales expectations for the Bolt EV, but some analysts think GM could sell around 30,000 a year.

“This is on the leading edge of technology. This is preparing ourselves for tomorrow and the future,” Batey said. “This isn’t going to be the best-selling vehicle. It was never designed to be our best selling. This was designed for us to be able to get out, to be able to real world, to continue our leadership.”

The Bolt EV will be out well before the Tesla Model 3, which Batey said gives them an opportunity for some 18 months of real world experience over the rival. The Tesla Model 3 is slated to go on sale around the end of next year for about $35,000. Earlier this year, some 300,000 people put down $1,000 deposits for the Model 3.