One of the first modern mass-market electric vehicles we tested remains one of our favorites. It’s the Chevrolet Bolt, which we first sampled at CES in 2016, then drove for real when it went on sale the following year. A fun-to-drive hatchback that could feel a little spartan—some people hate the seats in early models—it was also quite affordable, with prices dropping well below $30,000 for a car with a range of 259 miles (417 km).
Understandably we were pretty upset to learn that General Motors was calling time on this solid little EV; in April this year, it announced it was ending the product line. But today, during GM’s Q2 results call, CEO Mary Barra revealed the Bolt will be back.
“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,” said Barra. “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,” Barra said.
The massive recall for the Bolt might not have helped the little EV’s cause at a corporate level, and it cost GM an additional $792 million, according to its Q2 results. But officially, the Bolt was to die because GM wanted to free up factory capacity to build new EVs like the Chevrolet Silverado EV pickup. Since the Bolt, GM has gone on to develop a new battery platform called Ultium, with much lower costs per kWh than the LG cells that power the Bolt. And it will use those cells in the next Bolt, although GM says we need to wait until a later date for anything more specific.
But GM is having problems scaling up Ultium production, to the point that it had to suspend production of the BrightDrop Zevo 600 electric delivery van. Of the 50,000 EVs it sold in the first half of 2023, the overwhelming majority have been Bolts, with fewer than 3,000 Ultium-based EVs finding homes with customers this year. “It’s been a little bit challenging,” said GM CFO Paul Jacobson.