“More value for less.”
That was the core message from Steve Majoros, Chevrolet’s VP of Marketing, to more than 100 reporters during a media briefing on the updated Bolt EV and new Bolt EUV this past Friday.
From the briefing, GM’s near-term 4-pronged approach to EVs got a bit more clarity, at least for this observer:
- Offer inexpensive models in China through its joint venture brands and higher-end models via the Cadillac and Buick brands.
- Offer lower volume performance and luxury models via its GMC (Hummer) and Cadillac (LYRIQ, Celestiq) brands in North America.
- Use the Bolt models to compete on price and basic functionality and hopefully at much higher volumes than current levels.
- And increase scale and profitability by producing EV powertrains on the Ultium battery platform for other OEMs, currently including Honda and Acura.
But will the combined sales of the revised Bolt EV and new Bolt EUV actually reach a significant volume of sales in the US? Before attempting to answer that question, let’s take a look at the revised Bolt and new variation, the EUV.
$4,505 MSRP Price Decrease On The Updated Bolt EV?
Perhaps the biggest and most noteworthy change with the Bolt EV is the new lower starting MSRP. At $31,995 (including destination charge), the Bolt EV is clearly the lowest starting price of any currently available EV in the US, and if you look at the various incentives on the market, you have a price point that is going to be attractive to a lot of buyers for a commuter car.
On the Chevrolet website, the 2021 Bolt EV is currently listed at a starting MSRP of $36,500, but there have been many reports of significant deals. According to a January article in Car and Driver, offers include: “$7000 of down payment assistance and zero percent APR if you sign up for an 84-month financing deal. Financing a new 2021 Bolt EV through GM Financial means you can get up to $3500 in down payment assistance and zero percent APR for a 72-month agreement.”
GM is being especially aggressive with current incentives as it tries to clean out existing Bolt inventory at dealers and drive current demand, as some potential buyers may be waiting for the updated model, or more likely the EUV version.
GM has had to be fairly aggressive on the now 4-year old Bolt as several new BEV hatchback/crossover models, including the Tesla Model Y, have become available — and with many more are on the way in 2021. However, while the Bolt is a perfectly good car — whether ICE or EV — it also had a rather bland exterior and interior and may not have enticed or excited a lot of the current crop of early-adopting EV buyers.
In California, which accounts for nearly 50% of EV purchases in the US and likely an even higher percentage of Bolt sales, multiple incentives can bring the Bolt down to $28,495:
- $2000 — Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP)
- $1,500 — California Clean Fuel Reward
And if the newly proposed revision to the federal EV tax credit is passed in Congress, qualifying Bolt EV/EUV buyers could claim an additional $7,000 credit on their tax return. Because it is a tax credit and not a rebate, I personally don’t like to present the credit as a direct price discount, but for those that do use it, that could bring the net cost of a Bolt EV/EUV down to roughly $21,500 for many California buyers, for example.
At that price, even if the Bolt doesn’t get your juices flowing or turn your neighbors’ heads, the new and improved Bolt EV and new EUV become really compelling commuter or around-town second cars for many households.
What’s New With the 2022 Bolt EV?
The first things you notice about the 2022 Bolt EV versus the 2021 model are a more contemporary and upright front fascia along with new front (high-eye daytime running lights) and rear lighting signatures.
On the inside, both the EV and EUV feature new instrument panels, vehicle controls, and seats, with a 10.2-inch-diagonal infotainment color touchscreen and integrated climate controls. “The infotainment screen features real-time displays with more details available on the 8-inch-diagonal reconfigurable color gauge cluster.”
GM has also done away with the traditional stick gear shift selector and moved to using pull toggles and push buttons “to free up more interior space.” To make regenerative braking even simpler, GM has also added a new one-pedal driving button that “keeps the system active between drive cycles.”
While I’ve never owned a Bolt, the first time I sat in one and took a test drive when it first came out, I was personally really disappointed in the cheap-feeling interior — as I think a lot of potential buyers were. GM clearly heard that feedback and has improved the interior with redesigned seats that are softer and appear to be a bit more upscale.
How Is the Bolt EUV Different from the Bolt EV?
The new Bolt EUV and redesigned Bolt EV share the same architecture, but according to GM, their designs are unique, with the two models having no shared exterior sheet metal parts. The other main exterior difference is the EUV is 6.3 inches longer. The wheelbase on the Bolt EUV is also 2.9 inches longer, 0.2 inches higher and wider, and has a 0.4-inch wider track.
While car appearances are clearly a matter of personal taste and preferences, to my eye, the design of the EUV is much more attractive and distinctive than that of the Bolt EV. GM refers to the Bolt EUV as an SUV, but from where I sit, it is much closer to a crossover than an SUV — especially lacking all-wheel drive and minimal ground clearance.
While the Bolt EUV exterior is a step up in looks (to me at least), it isn’t nearly as attractive as, say, the Ford Mustang Mach-E. But costing many thousands of dollars less, the Bolt EUV should compete will against the upcoming Volkswagen ID.4 and Nissan Ariya — and possibly even the Model Y Standard Range.
That additional length and modest increase in height and width translates into 3 inches of additional rear legroom in the Bolt EUV versus the Bolt EV. Heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear outboard seats, along with a panoramic power sunroof, are also available for the Bolt EUV.
Other differences between the two models include:
- The 2022 Bolt EUV will be the first Chevrolet offered with Super Cruise (but not enhanced Super Cruise), but apparently that will not be an option on the Bolt EV.
- The Bolt EUV achieves 9 fewer miles of EPA range on a full charge, at 250 versus 259 miles on the Bolt EV. The slightly shorter range is due to the EUV being a bit longer, wider, and heavier (90 pounds more).
What Hasn’t Changed and What’s New for Both Bolt Models
Notably, what hasn’t changed on the Bolt is the battery pack and charging speed. GM will continue to use the LG-produced 65 kWh battery pack in both Bolt models, and according to Jesse Ortega, Executive Chief Engineer for the Bolt EV and EUV, GM has “no plans to incorporate the Ultium battery into the Bolt.”
Both Bolts also still have a maximum DC charging capability of 55 kW, which in today’s market has really become quite uncompetitive.
On the positive side, Chevrolet will provide Bolt owners with a new Dual Level Charge Cord. It has a changeable plug that allows Bolt drivers to plug into a standard 120-volt three-prong outlet for Level 1 charging and a 240-volt outlet for Level 2 charging up to 7.2 kilowatts.
The new Dual Level Charge Cord is standard with the Bolt EUV and is available for the Bolt EV. For maximum Level 2 charging speed, both vehicles are now capable of 11 kW Level 2 charging, but separate charging equipment (not included) is required.
And perhaps the most intriguing news is that Chevrolet will cover standard installation of Level 2 charging capability for eligible customers who purchase or lease a 2022 Bolt EUV or Bolt EV. The program is in collaboration with Qmerit, which will find a local electrician to install the necessary 240 volt outlet to work with the available Dual Level Charge Cord. This offer is subject to approval and will not cover the costs for out-of-the-ordinary electrical upgrades.
Answers to Key Questions
During the Friday media briefing, Majoros and Ortega addressed more than a dozen questions from reporters, with the following being some of the more interesting or important answers and comments.
“You can’t get mainstream adoption by selling in only 10, 12, or 15 states.” — Steve Majoros, VP Marketing, Chevrolet
- Production on both models “starts now/soon.”
- Models will be available beginning “early summer — certainly in 2021.”
- Chevrolet is currently finalizing distribution strategies, but both models will be available in all 50 states. Chevrolet has an established dealer allocation and pattern and will balance providing enough units to high-volume EV dealers with ensuring availability in all 50 states. Majaros also shared that some dealers in the San Francisco area see “30%–35% of their product volume from the Bolt EV.”
- Of GM’s current 3,000 Chevrolet dealers, 1,300 are currently approved Bolt EV dealers. Chevrolet has seen a 99% re-enrollment by these dealers. Bolt EV/EUV dealers must install DC fast chargers, and have trained sales consultants and service technicians.
- Both Bolt models will be built at the Orion factory near Detroit, while the LG Chem battery packs will continue to be sourced from South Korea.
- Depending on demand for each model, GM can flex production from 25% to 75% to either model.
- There will be a cap on volume for the Premier edition. However, Chevrolet executives did not say what it would be.
- GM considers the Bolt EV to be a 5-door hatchback and the Bolt EUV an SUV (although, many reporters and auto analysts take issue with this classification).
- GM sees a significant opportunity for its supply of used Bolts to become available for underserved communities. Though, Majaros did not elaborate on this statement.
- Not surprisingly, the Chevrolet executives would not comment on whether the Bolt is now profitable or will be profitable in the near future.
So, What’s It All Mean for US Sales Volume?
To date, most of the EVs available in the US have targeted consumers looking for either a premium or luxury/performance car, or something more modest akin to a Toyota Prius for those consumers prioritizing energy conservation and dollars over performance and fancy interiors.
The Bolt EV, and now along with the new EUV version, still will not be confused with an Audi or Tesla, but the improved interior and updated exterior will make the Bolt models more competitive with existing and new electric CUVs and SUVs coming to market in 2021 and 2022. And while the federal EV tax credit is not currently available for the Bolt, the $32,000 and $34,000 starting MSRPs combined with state and utility rebates make the Bolt a very attractive EV for commuters.
Why do I say “attractive EV for commuters?” During the media briefing, Majaros and Ortega stressed multiple times that the Bolt was “more value for less” and that “90% of charging was done at home or work.” They only briefly touched on GM’s partnership with EVgo for DC fast charging and minimized the importance of fast charging speed. But they emphasized multiple times the new 240 volt charging cable and arrangement with Qmerit. GM is clearly positioning the Bolt models as primarily for home-based Level 2 charging.
The implications were clear. GM sees an opportunity to target a huge and growing market of EV buyers who just want an affordable EV that can meet 90% or so of their driving needs. The low price point combined with only 55 kW capable fast charging and a lack of AWD means that the updated Bolt EV and new EUV are the perfect, no-frills EV for commuting and local trips for drivers in regions where it rarely or infrequently snows.
Like we expected and have seen with Tesla Model 3 sales shifting to the Model Y in the US, I would expect once production scales up that buyers will prefer the EUV over the Bolt EV. GM sold 20,825 Bolt EVs in the US in 2020. For 2022, when both models are widely available, I would expect the EUV to perhaps sell in the 25,000–30,000 range, with the Bolt EV declining to perhaps around 15,000. But the combined total then potentially reaches about double or more of 2020 Bolt EV sales.
Two key variables to the sales volume question for GM are the status of the federal EV tax credit reform and competitor model pricing — which will go hand in hand. Both Bolt models are already priced well below many current and future crossover EV models. But, if the tax credit reform is passed by Congress later in 2021 or early 2022, it could make the Bolt models especially attractive to buyers just looking for a reliable, low-maintenance, no-frills car (that just happens to be electric) to get them to and from work and around town.
In the meantime, if you are interested in the Bolt EUV Launch edition priced at $43,495, you can reserve one for $100.