After all the production delays and vehicle-fire issues that have plagued the poor Chevrolet Bolt over the past year or so, it may be in the process of receiving a final blow, one that might see the model disappear from the landscape altogether.
General Motors’ latest announcements regarding its electrification plans, made this week, include a $4 billion investment to build electric versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks. What’s the connection with the small, all-electric Bolt, you might be asking? The plan calls for those electric pickups to be built at GM’s plan in Orion Township, Michigan. And that is where the Bolt and its new Bolt EUV sibling are assembled. Or were, until all the battery, chip shortage and fire issues put a stop to production.
Here’s an official statement from GM spokesperson Dana Flores:
“Production of the Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV will continue during the plant's conversion activities to prepare the facility for production of the Silverado EV and Sierra EV pickups. We are not disclosing any additional information at this time about Bolt EV or Bolt EUV production.”
- Dana Flores, GM spokesperson
That GM has not announced a new production home for the Bolt is obviously not a good sign for the model and its future. While the automaker is saying that it will continue to build both variants, the fact is that it has only built a handful of them since August 2021, and none at all since November.
The reasons for the production chaos have been widely reported, of course, and involve a recall of nearly all existing models and a subsequent scramble to obtain new, safer batteries from supplier LG Chem. Those have started to arrive at GM facilities (though the Orion plant remains idle), but they’re still all going to repair recalled Bolts, not build new ones.
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The fate likely awaiting the all-electric Bolt is a cruel and largely unmerited one, since the model enjoyed fairly solid sales in North America until the fire issues hit. According to GM, the Bolt had the highest conquest rate of any Chevrolet car since it was introduced in 2016, and generally owners reported being very satisfied with their vehicle. The Bolt EUV was introduced last year with high hopes, but those were dashed before the model could even get itself installed on the market.
It’s worth noting that the other electric models that GM is developing to hit its longer-term electrification targets – it wants to produce only EVs by 2030 – use the new Ultium battery it has developed and not the problem-ridden one the Bolt is saddled with. Even if the Bolt survives to fight it out another day, its munitions will be outdated compared to most of its rivals on the market.
Still, there will be some long faces if the Bolt disappears, and those faces will belong to budget-minded buyers who had planned to buy a GM-produced electric vehicle. Currently, the automaker offers the Cadillac Lyriq luxury EV and the crazy-expensive GMC Hummer EV, and that’s it. The Bolt may not be as sexy as Ford’s Mustang Mach-E, Tesla’s Model 3 of VW’s ID.4, but at least it could compete with them on price.