GM Could Replace Bolt with Less-Expensive Ultium-Based Vehicle


The all-electric Chevy Bolt has had a rough go over the last year, falling victim to battery troubles which led General Motors to halt production and recall every single copy they’ve ever built so they could stuff the things full of new electrons because of a fire risk.

Alert readers will know those recalled battery packs are different than GM’s own Ultium product, tech that’s finding its way into all forward-looking EVs from The General. This makes the Bolt something of an outlier and, after hearing remarks from Mary Barra in this week’s GM earnings call, probably a dead car walking.

At CES earlier this year, GM surprised industry watchers with news of a new Equinox EV, one which will be built with Ultium bones and cost around $30,000. This already encroaches on Bolt (and the strangely-named Bolt EUV) territory in terms of price but, if we’re reading the tea leaves correctly, there will be even further incursions into the Bolt’s space.

Speaking to the concept of affordability while taking a veiled swipe at other EV makers, CEO Barra said “Affordable EVs are part of the market that start-ups aren’t targeting, but they are key to driving mass adoption of EVs, which is a national and a global priority. That’s why we plan to follow the Equinox with an even more affordable EV.”

It doesn’t take a degree in journalism to parse that statement and figure out a sub-$30,000 all-electric vehicle using Ultium batteries is on its way in the next half-decade.

If the existence of a $30k Equinox – shown above and planned for the 2024 model year – put the Bolt on notice, then this as-yet-unnamed EV should sound a red alert. Toss in a damaging recall and a ‘pause’ in production and the Bolt’s death certificate is all but signed. The only thing left on which to speculate is the new car’s name. since it will surely be a crossover-style vehicle, it could adopt an existing ICE taxonomy like Trax after that model vanishes. We’d suggest the recently-departed Spark but that would be gallows-level humor given the Bolt’s propensity to catch fire.

As an aside, why in the name of Alfred P. Sloan did General Motors continue the unfortunate habit of naming two different vehicles with variants of the same name? Bolt and Bolt EUV are mystifying to anyone who’s not in the know (read: The vast majority of drivers) and harkened back to stuff like the Lumina and Lumina APV. This is to say nothing of the whole Bolt/Volt conversation, which is surely fodder for a business school case study.

No timeline was given for this under-the-Equinox EV. Since 2020, GM has announced investments totaling more than $14 billion in ten sites across North America to increase their manufacturing capacity to more than 1 million EVs annually by the end of 2025.

[Image: Chevrolet/GM]

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