Green Technology

GM Confirms Next-Generation Chevy Bolt, Blames Supplier For EV Production Delays


During its Q2 earnings call on July 25, General Motors CEO Mary Barra announced that a second-generation Chevy Bolt is coming. She didn’t say when it would arrive in showrooms, how much it will cost, the size of the battery, or what it will look like. What she did say was, “Our customers love today’s Bolt. It has been delivering record sales and some of the highest customer satisfaction and loyalty scores in the industry. It’s also an important source of conquest sales for the company and for Chevrolet.”

“We will keep the momentum going by delivering a new Bolt and we will execute it more quickly compared to an all-new program with significantly lower engineering expense and capital investment by updating the vehicle with Ultium and Ultifi technologies and by applying our ‘winning with simplicity’ discipline.”

From its market introduction in 2017, the Chevrolet Bolt has changed the game as the first long-range, mass-produced EV available to customers at a truly affordable price, GM said in a press release. Sales of the Bolt EV and Bolt EUV through the first half of 2023 have been the strongest to date. Eighty percent of Bolt owners are staying loyal to Chevy and nearly 70 percent of buyers who are trading in a vehicle for Bolt are trading in a non-GM product. Those are known as “conquest sales” in the industry and are highly valued by marketing managers.

Without knowing any details about the second-generation Chevy Bolt, we presume it will not suffer from the biggest drawback of the current car, which is scheduled to go out of production by the end of this year — slow Level 3 charging times. The first-generation Bolt can only accept about 55 kW of charging power, which means drivers need to allow extra time for charging while on trips.

Since the second-generation car will use GM’s proprietary Ultium battery technology, it should be able to charge nearly as fast as a Cadillac Lyriq or Chevy Silverado EV. It is reasonable to assume the next Chevy Bolt will continue to be GM’s least expensive electric car. It has already said the upcoming Equinox EV will start at less than $30,000, which suggests the new Bolt may start at around $27,000. If it is eligible for the full federal EV tax credit, that means customers will be able to buy a thoroughly modern electric car from Chevrolet for a net cost of less than $20,000! We will have to wait and see how that turns out.

GM Blames Supplier For Delays

GM has been stuck in production hell for over a year as it struggles to get its first Ultium-based cars out the door and into dealer showrooms. Customers who have been waiting for a Cadillac Lyriq for over a year are now being promised they will be able to take delivery of their cars in early September. But GM has made many promises, none of which have come to fruition.

On the Q2 earnings call, Mary Barra blamed a supplier of automation equipment for the slow ramp-up of GM’s new electric vehicles. The company has been saying lately that it will soon catch up with Tesla, but that is clearly not happening any time soon. Wall Street is growing restive because of the constant delays, according to a report by CNBC.

Shares of GM were down roughly 4% in morning trading Tuesday despite quarterly results that topped year over year performance. During the call, analysts questioned the company’s pricing strategies, EV profitability guidance, and ability to hit previously announced targets for the vehicles.

“We have experienced unexpected delays in the ramp because our automation equipment supplier has been struggling with delivery issues that are constraining module assembly capacity,” Barra said during the call.

GM produced 50,000 EVs through the first half of this year for North America, which is in line with internal targets but slower than many expected. A majority of that production was its outgoing Chevrolet Bolt models, rather than the new Cadillac Lyriq, Chevy Blazer EV, and Equinox EV that utilize the company’s Ultium batteries and technologies.

Barra, a former plant manager and auto engineer, said she has been “disappointed” with the unnamed supplier and that she has personally been involved with problem solving and updating the automated lines. She said GM was “surprised” how little progress the supplier had made.

GM expects significant improvements in production through the end of this year, Barra said, with constraints “primarily” being behind the company by then, if not sooner. “We’ve already seen a lot of improvement from the last four to six weeks. We’re going to continue on that path,” Barra said.

Despite the holdup with the battery modules, Barra said the company still plans to produce 100,000 vehicles in North America during the second half of this year and produce up to 400,000 electric cars by the middle of next year. “We’re not walking away from any of the targets we put out,” Barra said.

The Chevy Bolt Is A Pretty Good Car

In a one-month review of my Chevy Bolt, I said, “I am pleasantly surprised how good a car the Chevy Bolt is. My other car is a Tesla Model Y, so my expectations were high. The Bolt is no Tesla, but in some ways, I prefer it. It actually seems to ride more quietly with less tire noise. I am getting used to the radio and climate controls. I still like the little orange lights that appear in the side-view mirrors to warn me if there is a car in my blind spot.

“The ride is comfortable and controlled. The regen works marvelously well, making one-pedal driving a delight. The car doesn’t creep when stopped. The guess-o-meter that estimates range is entertaining, as it plummets when going uphill and then adds miles back when you go down the other side. The estimated range numbers actually correspond quite well to actual miles driven.”

We wish we had more details to share with you about the second-generation Chevy Bolt, now that its existence is official, but GM has decided to keep most of its details under wraps until later. Maybe that’s better than writing checks it can’t cash, as is standard operating procedure from the EV segment leader, who we will call Brand T. We’re actually pretty excited to find out more about what GM has in mind for the Chevy Bolt².


 


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