Chevrolet Bolt Production To Double After Extended Factory Shutdown?

4 weeks ago by Eric Loveday 71

Chevrolet Bolt EV on the line in Orion, Michigan

A source at the Orion Township factory says that Chevy Bolt production will double after the extended summer shutdown.

Bolt On Production Line

Previous reports had suggested that Bolt inventory was building up and that the factory shutdown might in fact be due to low demand for the Bolt. Apparently, that’s not the case at all.

An insider with direct knowledge of the retooling efforts at the factory says that the site will exit the shutdown with the ability to make more Bolts.

Quoting Don Lockrey (via Chevy Bolt EV Owners Group on Facebook):

I work at the factory.

We added an extra week for shutdown because of slowing sales for the Sonic, I’m assuming because of gas prices.

Another reason for the extra week was to complete bank systems and re do the assembly line to INCREASE Bolt production.

The jobs are all set to produce Bolts on a 2 Sonics, 1 Bolt mix. They are changing the mix to a 50/50 split, which requires adjustments.

So, production of the Bolt in theory could double coming out of the shutdown, which should be sometime in mid August.

With Bolt inventory building up though, why would General Motors increase production? Simple answer is nationwide ordering opened in June with those first deliveries set to begin in August. It’s likely there’s quite the backlog of open orders to fill from those 32 states that were recently added to the Bolt availability list – to say nothing of the thousands of customers waiting in Europe for the Bolt EV’s sister car, the Opel Ampera-E.

On the other hand, while the worker says Bolt production is increasing, Sonic production could be coming down at the same time as the Bolt’s is increasing, as sales of the subcompact gas car have been very soft so far in 2017.  So perhaps its a 25% or 50% increase for the Bolt EV.  Whatever the number, more is always better for those waiting on EVs?  Right?

Source: Chevy Bolt EV Owners Group on Facebook

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71 responses to "Chevrolet Bolt Production To Double After Extended Factory Shutdown?"

  1. Alan says:

    Makes sense given the long waiting list outside of the US.

    1. Bacardi says:

      Exactly what I was thinking, kudos to being the first comment!

  2. SparkEV says:

    If they reduce Sonic by half, 50/50 split with Bolt will still produce same number of Bolts, just fewer Sonics.

    1. Alan says:

      If it’s a 2:1 split at the moment and it ends up a 50/50 split:

      200 Sonics
      100 Bolts

      150 Sonics
      150 Bolts

      That’s only 50% increase in Bolts, not double !

      1. ClarksonCote says:

        All the math games are fun, but they assume that the production line will be producing the same overall total of cars. We don’t know (to my knowledge anyway) if that line will add a shift, remove a shift, keep the production level the same, etc.

        1. Alan says:

          Well according to the story and the person who actually works there, it is to INCREASE Bolt production ?

          1. ClarksonCote says:

            True, but I don’t know that I trust the accuracy of that statement. It is certainly to increase the Bolt production relative to the Sonic’s production.

            Whether or not it’s a total increase remains to be seen, though it very well could be.

            1. Doggydogworld says:

              The assembly line basically has two speeds – on and off. Since they were already at minimum output (single shift), they’ll return to that level when they start back up. If this story/rumor is true, Bolt production will rise 50%.

              1. SparkEV says:

                They can vary the duty cycle to any degree they wish. In fact, that’s how most electronics operate these days, on/off of varying duty cycle, while giving the illusion of linear.

                1. unlucky says:

                  The problem with any duty cycle below 100% is that the pay rate for the workers remains at 100% no matter how slowly the line moves. Furloughs are more cost-effective than slowing the line, whether you do it with PWM or actually slowing the motion.

          2. Dav8or says:

            Yeah, some guy posting on the internet. It’s digital, so you can trust it right? Now what’s all this noise I hear about “fake news”… ?

            1. JeremyK says:

              But it does make sense. Sonic sales are down 37%. Bolt sales are increasing month over month due to continued nationwide/global rollout. Geez…you don’t have to be a GM exec. to make that call. Comment sounds legit to me.

        2. Tom says:

          There is only 1 shift at that plant. It is severely underutilized. So this is shifting load on that 1 shift. The overcapacity issue is hard to avoid and was created in the cyclical gas price cycle when economy cars were more in demand just a couple short years ago. But it would appear the death of the Bolt has been greatly exaggerated.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        “That’s only 50% increase in Bolts, not double !”

        Thank you!

        Nice to see I’m not the only one who spotted that rather glaring error in basic math.

    2. WadeTyhon says:

      Since Sonic sales are off about 35% for the year, if they reduce production by that amount, then we could see a decent little boost from Bolt production.

      Hopefully more Ampera-e / Bolts headed to Europe / Canada. And the remaining US states.

      Theyre selling well here in Texas so far at least. My dealer had received about 20 of them so far and are down to 7 after the first 3 weeks.

      1. SparkEV says:

        Sonic sales are decreasing, so it may not be 35% for long, may drop lot further. If it hits 50%, either they produce more Sonic and sell for cheap, or they cut Bolt production. Based on their unwillingness to redistribute Bolt to rest of US / over seas and sell a whole lot more, I suspect they’ll cut Bolt rather than discount Sonic. I just hope they don’t cut it below current level of production (50/50 split with Sonic cut in half).

        1. nlpnt says:

          The Sonic really should’ve had a complete restyling instead of the facelift it got, and discontinuing the low-series hatchbacks didn’t help. Using as much of the Bolt’s exterior as possible in the Sonic redesign and killing the sedan version would’ve made more sense.

  3. Charles says:

    Great – perhaps they could start making RHD versions and selling them in Australia?

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      I wouldn’t hold my breath. It has been suggested that GM profits from selling the Bolt EV only where it earns zero-emission credits… in other words, only inside the borders of the USA.

      I don’t know just how true that is or isn’t, but certainly GM isn’t sending a large percentage of the production overseas, despite the fact that it should sell well in Europe.

      1. devroot says:

        ZEV credits don’t necessarily earn GM any profits, unless they choose to sell them to other auto manufacturers, and there’s no set amount for how much a credit is worth. Less than $5000, for sure.

          1. unlucky says:

            Musk is full of bunk on that story (again).

            The credits are no more valuable to GM than to Tesla. If the credits can be purchased cheaply from Tesla then GM only values them (and any self-made replacements for buying them) at the price Tesla would sell them at.

            If you want a good analysis of how emissions credits function Musk is not a good place to go to learn.

      2. Gareth says:

        Bolt is selling quite well in the Canadian provinces where it is for sale, enough that they can’t keep up with demand.

      3. ClarksonCote says:

        That may have been suggested but all evidence suggests they make a decent margin on every car sold.

        The only area they lose is the fact that they don’t plan enough volume currently for that margin to completely cover their R&D costs. But at this point in the game that’s all very preliminary, and the R&D can be leveraged for future EV as well.

      4. JeremyK says:

        A sale “stolen” from Nissan (or Tesla) contributes to market share, which is just about as important as actually making a profit…especially when it comes to EVs. A conquest sale is sometimes worth taking a loss, which GM can easily afford.

  4. Dan says:

    Changing to a 50/50 split will increase Bolt production by 50%. Example 100 cars daily 67 Sonics and 33 Bolts. Changes to 50 Sonics and 50 Bolts daily.

    1. Alan says:

      Ditto !

      1. Dave86 says:

        Dan’s & Alan’s math looks good. Bolt production goes up and total number of cars built daily at that plant stays the same.

        GM needs to figure out how to do a better job of selling PHEVs & EEs. If Tesla has a waiting list & GM doesn’t, then GM is doing something wrong.

  5. Vexar says:

    This does not settle the average days on lot for the Bolt mentioned in the previous article. Nor does it reconcile California dealerships offering the car with what, $3000 off MSRP? Maybe if GM were actually running ads for their BEV I would believe this turn of events. Monthly scorecards will tell, all in due time. Hope that sales do pick up!

    1. unlucky says:

      More than $3000 off MSRP in some cases.

      As to the high number of vehicles on lots, doesn’t that go hand in hand with the temporary shutdown? Either you shut down the plant for a while to cut that number down or else you built up that number because you knew you were going to shut the plant down for a while.

    2. WadeTyhon says:

      I received a private offer in the mail this week for all current chevy vehicles. For the first time ever, it included the Bolt EV. I believe it was $3500 off for the Bolt and Volt? (Although basically all GM vehicles were on the list.)

      Wish they had sent this out a month ago when i bought mine lol! But I will not complain too much, I got what I wanted.

  6. Peter says:

    We in Europe are waiting. 4000 cars to Norway in back order.
    Not even possible to buy in Sweden yet !

    1. Omicron says:

      In Germany too! We might be waiting until 2019 in order to be allowed to buy as a common consumer. Hopefully this new plan changes this.

      Heck, if US inventory on the Bolt is good right now, make all of the increase into Ampera-E’s for Europe! We’ll take them all!

      1. Alan says:

        Not sure if PSA will be selling them under license from now on but could be under the terms of the sale of GM Europe ?

        1. Terawatt says:

          They’ve said Ampera-e is still going to be produced by GM and sold as an Opel, but no details about the terms are publicly known. Also that other GM EVs based on the Bolt platform “may” be sold as Opels.

          So far however it certainly didn’t look like GM has much interest in selling outside the US. The EU also has regulation coming that requires manufacturers to meet fleet targets, so PSA should be interested, but whether they have ensured they can get enough cars through GM is anyone’s guess.

      2. Mark says:

        It just became available in my state. I am glad the real info is out that they are increasing production. The USA is more than California and New York.

    2. CCIE says:

      It’s payback to you Norwegians for the terrible service Norwegian Air has been providing to/from the US! LOL

    3. SparkEV says:

      US should just invade Europe and take over so the Europeans can buy Bolt!

      1. Tim says:

        Europe: Germany will receive under 100 Ampera-e in 2017. Come on. That’s not even one car per dealer. Is GM serious about selling EVs in Europe? I doubt it.

  7. JPM says:

    I went to a dealer in Texas to test drive and they didn’t have any. The dealer said they had sold the few they had been allocated, and had 5 more “in transit”, several of which had already been sold. Meanwhile dealers in California have hundreds sitting on the lot. Sounds like they are trying to milk the ZEV credits as much as possible. Before going mainstream.

    1. Tom says:

      How dare they be financially responsible. Dang commies.

      1. JPM says:

        I’m sure that is exactly what GM’s execs think they are doing. Meanwhile Tesla is sitting on 400,000 preorders, and building 40 stall quick charging stations.

        1. Delta says:

          And very soon, we will be comparing Bolt sales to Model 3 sales and it may be very embarrassing to watch – especially if model 3 sells 5 times more early next year.

    2. Texas FFE says:

      It cost less than $1000 to transport a car from California to Texas. You can take the $3000 credit being offered by the California dealers and still be on top. If you live in Texas and really want a Bolt EV but don’t want to wait or pay the inflated Texas prices, you can have your California Bolt EV delivered to Texas in less than a week.

      1. SparkEV says:

        Bro1999 shipped his Bolt from CA to MD for $775 and got some discount.

        https://bro05.blogspot.com/2016/12/so-loaded-bolt-is-how-much.html

  8. Tosho says:

    “With Bolt inventory building up though, why would General Motors increase production?”

    There is a year-long waiting list for the Bolt in Europe…

    1. Alan says:

      Europe, which state is that in !

      1. SparkEV says:

        Paris and London (Bridge) are in Nevada, Netherlands in CA, many others can be found in Anaheim, CA (Disneyland) and other parts of US.

    2. Mark says:

      The rest of the USA doesn’t have any .

  9. iwatson says:

    Gm most likely felt that they didn’t need to try to “sell” this car since they were getting the free advertising from all the initial car reviews that were all raving, and passing out COTY awards. This failed idea, along with the limited state rollout has squandered their lead. What they need is happy customers in the seats telling their friends about what a great vehicle this is. As competitors will soon be in the marketplace, GM will be forced to advertise and discount.

  10. Assaf says:

    @Eric did you verify the guy’s identity?

    If not, you’re just passing around FB rumours, not doing journalism.

    I saw this post on the FB group, and wasn’t convinced it’s legit. All that’s shown is an image of a chat post from someone’s phone.

    – Does this Don Lockrey exist and works in that factory?
    – Even if so, does his post reflect what’s actually going on at the plant?
    – Have you contacted GM to confirm/deny this new piece of info?

    I hope the plant is indeed being re-adjusted to more Bolts, but if you just copy and pasted this this is bordering on Fake News.

    1. Alan says:

      It looks like Don Lockrey is the username of a comment on the cleantechnica site.

      https://cleantechnica.com/2017/07/19/general-motors-recreating-saturn-disaster-chevy-bolt-cleantechnica-original/#comment-3426424977

      Needs confirmation from GM officially !

    2. ffbj says:

      Yep. I think it’s a plant rumor tossed with a bit of wishful thinking and a pinch of bs.

    3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      I certainly hope someone at InsideEVs verified this info with a second source.

      If not, then the article should state plainly that the “source” is just a third-party Facebook post, and thus a rumor rather than real news.

      1. bro1999 says:

        There are tons of single source arricles posted here. Nothing new. Especially involving TSLA rumors.

    4. Hans Wurst says:

      You’re expecting journalism from a blog?
      Funny!

      1. Assaf says:

        This is not a “blog”. It is a news site, and the most authoritative source for EV sales numbers in the US.

        They also often bring the first scoops on major new EV releases and upgrades.

        They should do better than this.

        1. bro1999 says:

          Is what they posted proven to be wrong?

  11. peetah says:

    We here in Columbus Ohio have been notified the the Bolt is “available now” which is way early.

    I called the dealership and they said we can place orders now and they expect a truckload of them at the beginning of August apparently…

  12. ffbj says:

    “We added an extra week for shutdown because of slowing sales for the Sonic, I’m assuming because of gas prices.”

    What? Gas prices, oh since they have been incredibly low the Sonic has fallen out of favor, as people buy larger vehicles because, they can better afford to pay for gas that fuels it.
    I think there is a bit more to it than that.
    Smaller vehicles are falling out of favor, with the buying public in general due to their very nature.
    Btw gas prices have been low for a long time and people were buying the Sonic at those times.

    I think they will, drop a shift, run one shift, produce the Bolt 3/days a week & the Sonic 2 days. Since they will drop a shift production is cut in half but Bolt production stays about the same while Sonic goes down close to half.

    1. unlucky says:

      When gas prices are high people will buy small vehicles even if that is not what they favor.

      I think the idea that small vehicles are favor due to their very nature is bogus when the latest releases by car companies are small vehicles, small crossovers. And they are selling.

  13. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

    So this morning, I saw several GM commercials.
    For Trucks….
    SUV…
    Malibu (not the hybrid)

    All highlighted awards and other product features.

    We all know what products they want to sell.

  14. Texas FFE says:

    One thing that gets me is that there was a big deal about the Bolt EV costing less than $30,000 after the federal tax credit but there’s not a single used Bolt EV available for less than $30,000, The Bolt EV has outsold the 2017 FFE ten to one but there are a lot more discounted used 2017 FFE’s on the market then Bolt EVs. There may be dealers with surplus but demand is keeping the cost of used Bolt EVs very high.

    The availability of used Bolt EVs is still very limited. A lot of the early 2017 FFE’s were demo models that are now hitting the used car market but that doesn’t seem to be happening with the Bolt EVs. There have been some 9000 Bolt EVs sold so far but there are less than a dozen used Bolt EVs for sale and most of those are going for almost the same price as the new Bolt EVs.

    I’ve mentioned before about dealers charging more than MSRP on Bolt EVs, including dealers in Texas. Looks like some dealers are also reselling new Bolt EVs as used and pocketing the federal tax credit. I’m starting to get a very low opinion of Chevrolet dealers, but then again it’s all a game of supply and demand and dealers can only charge what people are willing to pay.

  15. Mark.ca says:

    Overproduce the Bolt and flood the dealers…they will get the message. It’s mainly because of them that this car sells at half potential.

    1. Bacardi says:

      US ZEV (not CARB) credit are acquired from vehicles produced, not sold…

      1. unlucky says:

        It doesn’t really matter. Every car produced and sent into the California market is eventually sold. No one can afford to send cars to dealers then have the dealers crush them en masse. At that point it’s cheaper just to buy credits. And it’s virtually always cheaper to just discount the cars you are producing.

    2. Mark says:

      They did not over produce. It is not available everywhere.

  16. Anti-Lord Kelvin says:

    If it’s true, this is good news for EV world and maybe, after all, the Bolt will be able to be sold in the State where it is being built!

  17. Bill Howland says:

    I don’t see this article saying anything, other than the relative split on a decreasing number of Sonics that are having less and less sales over the years.

  18. Matt says:

    Make an EV with equal or better range than the Bolt with the Volts superior styling and then we will talk GM.

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