The all-new Chevrolet Bolt EV is claimed by General Motors as a game changer – a crossover-style electric car with about 320 kilometres of battery range for US$30,000.
But as impressive as that sounds, it won’t be available to other world markets for some time, and a right-hand drive version is not on the cards at all.
Alan Batey, Chevrolet executive vice president, made it clear that he thinks it’s a bit of a bargain.
“The average transaction price here in the US is actually over that, it’s about 10 per cent over that,” he said of the US$30,000 ($42,900) sticker price.
“So we think we’ve really hit the sweet spot here. And with the 200-mile range, yes is the answer,” he said when asked if it has moved the needle far enough.
“The number one challenge was to take away range anxiety, and to do it in an affordable price.”
The Bolt EV will be produced in Detroit, and Batey said there was nothing further to add on future production locations right now. But he did suggest that Chevrolet – and General Motors – will “look at everything on a global basis”.
“At this moment in time we’re not making any announcements of where it will go in the world, but initially here in the US and then we’ll look at other markets,” he said.
The price of the Bolt EV is also about 10 per cent lower in relation to the Volt plug-in hybrid (with government incentives included), but Batey suggested that buyers are probably unlikely to cross-shop the two cars given their very different designs and approaches.
“Obviously Volt is extended range, is more in the passenger car segment; this is more leaning in to the crossover segment – so we think we’ve got two very different vehicles. Customers will decide,” he said.
Batey suggested that despite the clear differences between the Volt and the Bolt EV, Chevrolet has learned a lot between when the former launched – six years ago at Detroit in first-generation guise – and today.
Clearly the fact the Bolt EV has a distinct – but, crucially, modular – architecture which allows for better interior space provisions than the Volt is something that has been learned between now and then.
As Batey put it: “It has the interior space of D-segment car with an exterior size of a B-segment car. That’s a great win for us, and with the flat floor as well it’s a very accessible vehicle.”
Batey said that a key – but perhaps not crucial – part of the business case with the Bolt EV is the company’s recently-announced tie-up with ride sharing company Lyft.
“We didn’t wake up in January and just decide to double-down on an investment with Lyft. We have been looking at the mobility space. We believe that our core business will remain very strong, but there is definitely a mobility opportunity: rather than being a supplier of just vehicles into that mobility solution, we wanted to play a much more active role,” he said.
“I think this is a vehicle that will showcase Chevrolet brilliantly well. And what I like about this is, if you can imagine, if this in a Lyft fleet environment, you know, our biggest challenge at Chevrolet is to challenge perceptions and get bums in seats. Somebody getting in this vehicle, it’s going to be the showcase I can give them, and that driver is going to be the best salesperson I’ve got.”
Unless they hate the car…