Chevrolet Bolt EV: Long On Utility, Short On Sexy – It’s The Anti-Tesla, And It Works

Chevy Bolt EV


Bloomberg calls the all-new Chevrolet Bolt EV the “anti-Tesla.” Essentially it is everything that Tesla is not.

Chevrolet Bolt EV rear hatch with seats down

Chevrolet Bolt EV rear hatch with seats down

“It’s unlikely the Bolt will crush Tesla’s nascent Model 3. It has made essentially the anti-Tesla, a vehicle long on utility and short on sexy.

What the Bolt will do is lure thousands of buyers who would otherwise buy a conventional car and immediately make obsolete almost every other electric car on the road. At this very moment, thousands of Nissan Leaf owners are quietly kicking themselves.”

The Bolt is surely not the car for those looking for luxury.

If you want a premium interior experience, you will have to look elsewhere (we should note it does have leather seating as an option). And although it is crossover-ish, it’s not going to tow anything. And despite having the best range of any all-electric on the market (in its price range), long road trips to more remote areas in the US should not be on your list, as the CCS fast charging network is still not very mature.

With all of this being said, GM has achieved a long-range, affordable electric car, that is quite practical. In order to achieve the latter, some features just aren’t possible. The Bolt has not received loads of praise for its striking good looks. But, it has an outstanding amount of interior space. This is not much different than vehicles like the Honda Fit or the BMW i3, but very much unlike Tesla.

Chevrolet Bolt EV: Lots of useful room inside...and a fair about of standard finishes

Chevrolet Bolt EV: Lots of useful room inside…and a fair amout of standard finishes

Interior materials are mostly low cost plastics and rubbers. Nothing soft-touch or inviting. Bloomberg jokes:

“The cockpit is a cheap collage of plastic and hard rubber that feels down-market even on a $30,000 vehicle. It is “nice” in the way Ikea furniture is “nice,” which is to say it is thoughtful, pragmatic, and not terrible looking. You just don’t want to touch it too much.”

However, with today’s focus on technology, GM didn’t skimp where the masses will notice most. A 10.2-inch intuitive touchscreen and a fancy 8-inch digital gauge cluster enhance the otherwise Spartan interior. Aside from this, range and price came first, well above anything else. Darin Gesse, senior manager of GM product strategy, explained:

“We talked to customers about what they wanted and it all came down to range and price and range. Everything else wasn’t even second on the list; it was like 9th.”

No automaker offers near 238 miles from $37,495 today - a fact which will make the Bolt EV a strong seller on its own

No automaker offers near 238 miles from $37,495 today – a fact which will make the Bolt EV a strong seller on its own

Although not necessarily intentional – but a wonderful byproduct of large battery paired to small car – the Bolt is pretty peppy (0 to 60 mph is reported as low as 6.5 seconds). Also an indirect product of the electric situation, the large battery distributes weight evenly, making for a firm, grounded ride quality, virtually free of vibrations. The regenerative brake paddles on the steering wheel are pretty cool as well.

Chevy Bolt EV: 60 kWh worth of batteries from LG Chem cost GM about ~$9,000 (raw cells only)

Chevy Bolt EV: 60 kWh worth of batteries from LG Chem cost GM about ~$9,000 (raw cells only)

The batteries cost GM about $9,000 a piece. Not so ironically, $9,000 is the number Bloomberg has floated in the past on much the company could be losing for each Bolt sold out of the gate, with that number coming down over time.

For us here at InsideEVs, we feel that GM may well indeed be dropping a few bucks per copy out of the gate, but not to that extreme extent…and truthfully, we don’t want to get bogged down in (or publicize) the “ifs and maybes” of the financials behind the EV, at least without any basis for the supposition. We’ll leave it at that anyway – moving on.

Past the matter of profitability, and as the review points out, the Bolt EV’s value is also in being part “marketing tool”, part “R&D exercise” – and it also means that GM can keep selling the more gas-thirsty models (at greater margins) in its lineup and still meet CARB requirements.

Bill Visnic, editorial director of the Society of Automobile Engineers reminds us:

“Tesla loses money on every car too.”

However, GM and Tesla’s situations, intentions, and – as a direct result of the latter – the products are very different in so many ways.

Source: Bloomberg

Categories: Chevrolet

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144 Comments on "Chevrolet Bolt EV: Long On Utility, Short On Sexy – It’s The Anti-Tesla, And It Works"

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Premier Bolt has leather seats.

Heeh, yes it does…little miss there. Will fix that up now myself/add a note in, (= Good catch!

You need a proofreader for your fixes!
“(we should note it does has leather seating as an option)”
Also Picture captions need proofreading..
“Chevrolet Bolt EV: Lots of useful room inside…and a fair about of standard finishes”

Fine article though, just trying to help you get rid of the distractions

Thanks David…all good reasons to not edit articles on the smart phone while at a Christmas party, lol.


I have some autonomous AI software that will proof read for you. It’s a service at $15/hr. 😉

…apprec the offer AE, (=

Pretty accurate article.

Bring on all the Tesla fanboy hate!!

“Bill Visnic, editorial director of the Society of Automobile Engineers reminds us:”

Except Tesla doesn’t.
It makes a approx. 20% profit.
And that profit has build 12 Billion Dollars in assets on it’s balance sheet.

Look like you take a 20 thousand economy car, add a $9000 battery, add in the Federal Tax credit of $7,500 into the MSRP, and you get $36,000.

Where are they losing money?

Tesla is making a gross profit on the car but Tesla has more costs than just making the car and as a whole Tesla is making a loss per sold car. Tesla need to make lot more cars per year to cover all their costs but hopefully that will happen with the model 3.

My understanding is that, without the CARB credit sales, Tesla would not be making any profit.

So it seems like they are in the same situation as GM, without tax credits the vehicles are not yet profitable.

The good news is they’re getting real close to being profitable without these sorts of incentives, and that tipping point will be very cool to witness.

“…as a whole Tesla is making a loss per sold car.”

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Here we go again!

So what you’re saying is that if Tesla quit making cars, they’d stop losing money. Right? 🙄

Reality check: Tesla does make a significant amount of profit on every car it sells. The only reason that anyone can reasonably say Tesla is “not profitable” is because it’s borrowing money to grow the company faster than it’s making money.

That’s not “losing” money, that’s investing money in future growth. So how about we all quit posting B.S. about Tesla — or other EV makers — “losing” money, hmmmm? Leave that to the EV bashers and anti-Tesla FUDsters.

No but what you are saying is that you don’t understand what gross profit is and how it’s different from net profit and also that investments are not costs.

On the second point, let me give you an example.

Let’s say you are running a business and you have $1 million in the company bank account. When you do your balance sheet you put that down in the “assets” category.

To grow your business you need a new machine that costs $1 million. You take the money and buy the machine. Now this machine is your $1 million asset, it’s worth $1 million so you put _that_ in your balance sheet in the “assets” category instead of the $1 million in cash. Do you see that investments doesn’t affect the balance sheet in any way?

It doesn’t matter for Tesla financials if they have a billion in the bank or invested a billion in the Gigafactory. Those are just assets and are treated equally. Tesla are losing money ON TOP of their investments in factories, supercharger networks and whatnot, that is what their financial statements show (except for the last one where they managed to sell zev credits to make up the loss).

Except that you forgot about depreciation.

Every physical asset a company acquires (be it a building, a production line or even a single office computer) is depreciated over a couple of years, until it is to be reported with 0 value. Being still in existance and working contributes to a higher profit margin after that time.

Hence in some areas where there are few technological advancements over the years, companies with decades old factories and equipment have lower overall production cost than a start-up, which has to account for depreciation on buildings and equipment.

True but I didn’t want to add more detail than necessary to make my point

But Gross and Net profit is in the Income Statement not the Balance Sheet. Spending money for expansion comes off the Income Statement onto the Balance Sheet as an asset thereby reducing gross profit (generating a loss) on the Income Statement.

So Pushmi-Pullyu is right. Tesla’s “loss” is due to rapid expansion

I agree about Tesla and the per car profit vs company losing overall but then again if the $9,000 figure is at all accurate it will also be counting lots of stuff that isn’t getting counted in Tesla profit per car count.

I don’t think the $9000 battery cost is accurate. Sure, you can take the price per kWh and multiply by 60kWh to get $9000, but (I believe) that is just the cell cost. It does not include the pack integration and thermal management.

I would absolutely love to know the true incremental cost to make each Bolt EV

Right, the pack-level cost is probably between 1/3 and 2/3 more than the cell cost. So…

$145 x 60 = $8700 x 1.333 = $11,600

$145 x 60 = $8700 x 1.667 = $14,500

Probably somewhere in between those two figures.

I assume pack costs are close to being a fixed cost with a very small incremental increase as the pack gets larger. The anecdotal information for 1/3 the battery cost might have originated with the 1st gen Volt or Leaf pack size. I would be surprised if pack costs are $3,000 on the Bolt. I would guess it’s in the $500 to $1000 range and would lean more to the $500 side.

You should really look up what the word “profit” means in accounting before making such grandiose claims

I’d certainly like to see the InsideEVs staff step in and delete all these attempts to turn every popular article here, regardless of topic, into another bulletin board for posting anti-Tesla FUD.

This article is about the Bolt, not about your repeated attempts to promote a Big Lie about Tesla being “not profitable”.

It would be great if, at the same time, they could prevent Tesla zealots from insisting that every EV from every non-Tesla manufacturer is a “compliance car” smokescreen, and that every car executive except Elon Musk would prefer to sell coal-powered cars, but are only being forced by the government to develop EV tech (which they hate).

It would also be great if I had a pony.
I mean, while we’re wishing.

“Except Tesla doesn’t.
It makes a approx. 20% profit.”

Tesla isn’t profitable. Period. End of story. What you may be referring to is that Tesla makes a gross margin — say 28% margin — over the direct costs of making the car. However that doesn’t come close to being sufficient to cover all its other costs.

At $37K GM is making a gross margin of something — perhaps 15% or so — on the Bolt EV. That’s not the same margin Tesla is making on the Model S, but the Model S is a far more expensive car.

Nobody’s hating on the Bolt.
Good Luck with it.
There should be more than enough sales for both cars.
Seems the GM fanboys want some kind of war.

It’s like comparing a BMW 5 series and a Honda Fit, and declaring GM won.

The Bolt is a great car for what it is.

I think it’s a good effort. Better in some areas than others. I feel not making the DCFC standard is a miss though. I think most people will find some things they like about the car and some things they don’t.

The DCFC is really the only thing I would harp on. I don’t care about the looks or the lack of a charging network, as others may.

Well, GM Canada apparently agrees with you, since all those Bolt EVs have CCS DCFC standard.

Not sure why it’s different there versus the states.


That’s interesting. I agree with Cannucks.

I only agree with the article on the points of cheap interior and stubby looking. So that covers the exterior and interior. Yes also to the good range. That’s about it. Disagree to all the rest. So how is it an anti-Tesla? No comparison to exterior and interior styling. No comparison to performance and handling. My opinion GM engineered an econo-box to put it lightly. To put it harshly it’s a 2016 Yugo with a big battery pack at a premium price. Yes give me an econo-box with 100 mile range at $20K for the city and consciously I won’t expect any head turns. But at this price for this sh*t-box compare it to a imiev or even better to a Zap not to a Model 3. The Article should read the MODEL 3 KILLER. I’m still laughing after reading the comments. What a disappointment.

Bolt EV has a 238 mile range and a purpose built EV with more interior space than a Model S, and you compare it to a miEV or a Zap??

Now THAT’S something to laugh about!!!

Uh . . . I’m a Tesla fan but I love the fact that this Bolt got a great review. I hope they sell hundreds of thousands of them!

No need to make this into a stupid fight.

If all I wanted was great range EV for running around town, the Bolt would be it. The Bolt will meet a lot of people’s needs. BUT, that doesn’t make it a Tesla killer. If or when the Bolt is capable of getting an 80 percent charge in 20-30 minutes, then you are talking a potential Tesla Model 3 killer. But I think Tesla is safe.

You know that the Tesla is nowhere close to getting 80% in 20-30 minutes right?

It takes closer to one hour for a 60 kWh Tesla to do that.

It’s very likely that the Bolt will charger faster to 80% than the Model 3 though if you look at the companies track records of charging and what chemistries they are using.

Or did you know that and expect the Bolt to have to cut charging time in half or even a third of Tesla to be competitive?

“You know that the Tesla is nowhere close to getting 80% in 20-30 minutes right?
It takes closer to one hour for a 60 kWh Tesla to do that.”

It takes 32 minutes for a 60kWh(75pack) from 9 to 80%:

and 51 minutes for the 100kWh pack from “0” to 80%:

Both tests done in winter time.

Very practical videos, really gives a good sense of how the vehicles charge, hope someone does same video for Bolt.

Interesting how the charge tapers off around 70℅ mark. Compared to my Leaf, the information displayed by Tesla is really detailed and very useful.

SparkEV charges to 80% without taper using 50 kW charger, and I suspect Bolt will do better with its bigger battery, probably no taper to more than 90%. Unlike large taper Tesla and Leaf, DCFC on GM EV is pretty boring.

It would be interesting if Bolt is capable of higher power charging and there’s charger to do that. I suppose one could test it on their way to Las Vegas.

Thanks for posting those.

So your saying, model 3 will have 75 kWh battery pack that will be software limited? Bigger batteries charge faster, nothing new.

More likely 55 kWh, maybe 75 kWh as an expensive option.
You don’t know at this time if it will be be faster or not. They may improve battery cooling and make it charge faster. Or may leave just like original Model S 60 kWh as chemistry most likely is still NCA, and it would not be faster than 80 kW Bolt, and even 50 kW top limit at charger would not reduce overall charging time that much, as it can charge top power for short period of time only.

I’m going with multiples of the new powerwall, for practical module packaging reasons. So I expect 55ish and 70ish versions. As for charge time, unless there’s a surprise with the new 2170 cells, a tweak of chemistry, better pack design, cooling/heating, who knows .. I’m expecting charge rates in the ballpark of the S 60.

I don’t think there will be any software limited battery pack for the Model 3.
That would be a really stupid move for this car.

Bigger batteries do not charge quicker. SparkEV with 18.4kWh battery charges much, much quicker than Leaf with 24kWh, and even quicker than 30kWh. Charging speed is more complex than just battery capacity.

If Tesla has been paying attention, they won’t make the battery pack on Tesla 3 to be the same as S. They will surely improve on it.

Yeah, I seriously doubt the Model 3 will have an unlockable larger battery pack. It won’t be able to have the charging speed of the current 60KWH Model S.

It’s hard to do new tests since Tesla has no 60 kWh car now.
And doing tests in the winter helps since cooling is one of the hardest parts of supercharging fast.

We will have to wait and see for the Model 3, but don’t expect it to be able to do it under 40 minutes, then you will be disappointed.

Well, winter wasn’t really helping if you compare that to NDR’s post at TMC:

“P100D Supercharge from 25% to 75%
25% 116kw
30 116
35 113
40 113
45 113
50 113
55 113
58 109
60 106
61 102
62 97
63 95
64 91
65 89
66 87
67 87
68 86
69 84
70 81
71 79
72 75
73 71
74 66
75% 63kw”

What can I say .. Florida FTW! 😉

Cmina, comparing an MS 60 (75) charge rate to any true 60 kWh pack when it comes to charge rates is disingenuous at best. The III charge rate will start to taper long before the 60 (75) does. You are not doing Tesla any favors by fibbing about the likely charge rate for the coming III.

“You are not doing Tesla any favors ..”

I wasn’t trying to ..

Anyway, while this doesn’t say anything about the cells/packs themselves ..

I would love to see a test like this done on the Chevy Bolt. To have someone supercharge it from 0 to 100% and show the timeline.

Why quote “Tesla loses money on every car too” when you know that’s not true?

Tesla makes a health margin on each car, which was enough to enable overall profitability last quarter. The Bolt likely has a negative margin.

InsideEVs should be correcting this mis-information, not proliferating it.

I’m afraid what you “know” other people “know” to be “true” doesn’t correspond to what Tesla, in their legally required financial reporting, says about the same. It never seizes to amaze me how many people seem content to think that when there are paying claims, they can simply choose the option that most appeals to them without actually checking. In this case we have official figures from Tesla themselves that they are required by law to report according to generally accepted accounting principles (US GAAP). And anyone who can be bothered to look finds the same numbers. My claim is this: Tesla has never stated in any SEC filing that they are making money, on every car, on all cars, or on all products. They’ve posted a net result in a single quarter, but never for a fiscal year. What you and many others interpret as “making money” actually just means the car costs more than the incremental cost of making one more. That’s important, because it means there’s at least potential to become profitable it the volume becomes big enough. But it definitely does NOT mean they are making money today. It doesn’t even tell us how much greater… Read more »

Good analysis of Tesla. They are expanding so fast I’d hate to see them slow down just to show a profit. Even their Super Charger expansion and small fee is not to be a money maker. They are too busy saving the World. That’s my kind of company. I own a used ,recycled 2012 Model S and own lots of stock in them.

Nice post.

Some people wear their ignorance of accounting as a badge of honor, and seem to think GAAP is just there to confuse things. That said, there are situations where it is best to ignore GAAP. For instance, the IRS insists that you do things their way, not the GAAP way.

Yeah, again, like this guy, who didn’t see the ASSETS on the balance sheet.

“Tesla loses money on every car too.”

Even if Tesla is still not profitable as a company, this is still wrong. Losing money on every car very strongly implies negative profit margin on individual cars. That’s what GM is doing with the Bolt, but its not true for Tesla.

As for GM, we never knew what was implied in the “losing $9000 for each car sold” leak. To say they lose $9000 for each additional car built is just your interpretation, and that’s rather unlikely.

Mine would be that each additional car is profitable for GM, but we cannot know if the whole Bolt EV program will be. It depends on R&D spending, other investments, and crucially, on the number of cars sold on the whole run (typically 6-7 years for ICE cars).

In the context of this article, “losing money on every car” refers to the gross margin on the car. The claim that GM loses $9g on a Bolt is referring the difference between the price and the unit cost. Not some overall more complex business profitability calculation.

For years now Tesla has had a positive gross margin on their cars of 20-30%, while the Bolt likely has a negative margin. That’s the point here, not whether Tesla’s positive gross margin on their cars is sufficient to cover other business expenses like R&D.

I think this point is an important one, because there’s a widespread idea that EVs are super expensive to build and thus always will be money losers. GM isn’t helping that by selling the Bolt at a loss.

(going by your logic of per unit profit) You actually believe Tesla is more efficient/better at making cars than a company that has been doing it for over 100 years? Tesla used the same integrators/equipment to set up their plants as all the other auto companies, yet they are small scale, do not have the same supplier discounts, and do not have the means to share costs with multiple other vehicles.

First really clear analysis with clear arguments that I really understand. This highlight even more how hard have been for Tesla to survive.
About operational expense I was wondering if, as the Bolt is produced by GM, GM does not have the selling and servicing network to sustain (this is the job of dealerships right?), nor they don’t have to have a fuel station network, nor to give free gas for their clients. So how is it accounted the Tesla expense with their own show room, services centre and supercharger network? As also operational expenses? I’m asking this because it’s not clear in the Nasdaq link you put in your article.

“About operational expense I was wondering if, as the Bolt is produced by GM, GM does not have the selling and servicing network to sustain (this is the job of dealerships right?), nor they don’t have to have a fuel station network, nor to give free gas for their clients.”

But then again, $37500 is the dealer price. It’s not what goes into GM’s accounts for each Bolt sold.

Tesla loses money overall. That’s different than losing money “on every car”. The latter means losing money on the incremental car which, as you note, they don’t.

“Tesla is investing heavily, but the accounting of course… ACCOUNTS for this”

No. At least not fully. Most obviously, Model 3 R&D is expensed, not capitalized. The same is true Model 3 pre-production planning, hiring, training, etc. It’s a classic revenue/expense mismatch.

If you make reasonable adjustments for these mismatches Tesla is now mildly profitable on a full year basis. That’s not enough to justify their market cap — that requires continued growth and, eventually, margin expansion.

Great points, just because a point is repeated a thousand times does not make it true even once. Journalists seemingly reference each other too often currently in lieu of taking the time to do first hand research. This is true for all genre’s not just automotive.

Wow there’s a lot of posters on here that seemingly post only to pump up anti-Tesla comments.

The quality of these discussions has really tanked.

>> What you and many others interpret as “making money” actually just means the car costs more than the incremental cost of making one more. That’s important, because it means there’s at least potential to become profitable it the volume becomes big enough.

Unfortunately it doesn’t mean even that. Tesla uses its own way to calculate gross margin, different from other automakers. E.g. calculate it on retail cost, not dealer cost, that adds some 20% out of nowhere. Essentially part of variable per car costs is not accounted in Tesla’s gross margin, and it becomes obvious when you look at Tesla losses over time – they are increasing together with number of cars sold, not decreasing.

Terawatt said: “Tesla is investing heavily, but the accounting of course… ACCOUNTS for this. Operational expense and income is separated from capital expense and income, and Tesla’s operational results are negative.” No matter how many times the Big Lie about “Tesla is losing money on every car” is repeated, it’s still a Big Lie. Period. And no matter how much you use “creative accounting” to pretend that Tesla wouldn’t show a profit every quarter if it wasn’t growing the company rapidly, it still isn’t true. I’m not a “financial guy”, and in fact I treasure my ignorance of accounting. But the guy who wrote the article linked below writes using the proper technical terms, for anyone who is really interested in the Truth about Tesla’s finances, and not just repeating Big Lies in a mind-numbing fashion: Tesla recently changed its accounting procedures to bring them closer into line with the GAAP accounting standard, and I hoped that this would put an end to the ridiculous claims that Tesla “isn’t profitable”. Sad to see how wrong I was. 🙁 You don’t have to be a financial expert or genius to understand that a company which grows its market by more… Read more »

‘Facts are stupid things – stubborn things, should I say. [Laughter].’

“It never seizes”… that’s a relief- don’t want anything grinding to a halt, do we?
It never CEASES to amaze me that basic English spelling has not CAUGHT up with Internet users… who seem unaware of the many ‘Spell Checkers’ available.

Sorry folks- it’s a dirty job but some mug has to do it

Fine bit of presidented work

Dan said:

“Why quote ‘Tesla loses money on every car too’ when you know that’s not true?”

I expect this Big Lie from short-selling anti-Tesla FUDsters trying to manipulate Tesla’s stock price.

It’s very strange to see it from “Bill Visnic, editorial director of the Society of Automobile Engineers”, who you’d think would know better.

But Tesla bashing is motivated by many things, not just stock manipulation. Big Oil shills, hard-right political agitators, and even gear-heads generate, swallow and regurgitate anti-Tesla FUD. Perhaps Mr. Visnic is worried about the EV revolution threatening his job?

I feel like everyone on here but me and you are anti-Tesla FUDsters. It’s a far cry from the old days.

Nope. Don’t take this the wrong way, but you two just don’t understand basic accounting principles, and its shows in your comments. I’ll go out on a limb and say that neither of you has taken any college level accounting courses.

If the world is crazy and you’re the only sane one, are you really sane?

Actually it’s a nice looking car to me. Much better looking than the leaf and the BMW i3.

Would be much more attractive if it lined up closer to its ICE peers with aprice that reflects its category

In 18 months the true cost to drive it off the lot will be less than $34k and the $7500 credit will bring that to a net of $26k.
In 30 months it will cost $29k, less the $3750 credit for a net of $25k and change.

First time I’ve heard the claim about the profitability, or rather loss-making ability, of the car. The cost of planning, designing, developing, testing and type approving the vehicle is considerable, and basically independent of volume. The same is largely the case for the cost of getting production ready (making the machine to make the machine, as Musk likes to say), sourcing components and so on. At the end of the day this will amount to a lot per vehicle if volume is just 30,000. In order for Bloomberg’s figure to give us any insight we therefore need to know how they arrived at it. If all “model cost” is baked into “car cost” and only the first year of production is considered there’s effectively a hidden and unfair assumption that this cost should be covered only by that first year. It is much more meaningful to divide it on all the Bolts that will ever be made. Of course that’s an impossible thing to calculate accurately, since nobody knows with any certainty how long it will be in production, in what volume, or how much component prices will fall. But clearly a few “what if” scenarios and GMs incremental cost… Read more »
Indeed. We have gone out of our way to not make a “thing” or “story” out of Bloomberg’s original off the cuff remark of “we know a guy who said the Bolt loses 9k” … without them qualifying the statement, putting it into context, or supporting that with any actual facts. With that said, and for us, we not saying/speculating the GM ultimately will, or will not, make money on the Bolt EV…but the whole random pricing comment thrown in the review tends to overshadow everything else, and we don’t feel that is/was appropriate. Sidenote: In this case Bloomberg is also playing a little fast-and-loose with the battery cost to GM at $9,000. In actual fact, the raw cells are costing GM $8,700 for MY 2017/2018 (we put a little ditty in the caption on the battery to reflect that)…which is a heck of a long way from a wired/housed/completed pack with a BMS system installed into the car. Again, we are trying to keep that one part of the Bloomberg review/paragraph on ‘the numbers’ as small (and as in context) as possible so as not to over-run the rest of the story (and without putting up 4 paragraphs of… Read more »

You can buy the new Chevy Sonic for $15,000+, so, yeah, GM has to explain how they lose money by putting a battery into a Sonic and renaming it the Bolt, with an MSRP of $37,000.

And remember, you add an electric motor and battery, but you drop an engine,transmission,intake and exhaust system with an expensive catalytic converter.

Along with No EPA Pollution Testing Ever.

The tear down analysis indicated the Bolt EV costs GM about $32K or so.

Source? Link? It’s not like iphone where most parts can be priced and typing (aka, software development) is considered free. GM make their own motor, etc, and I would think it’s impossible to know the true cost.

If one’s guessing, I’d start with Cruze hatch ($22K) and add battery ($9K cells + $3K packing=$12K) for $34K. If you do similar with SparkEV, it’d be $12K SparkGas + $3K cells + $3K packing = $18K.


Because, while the design is loosely based on the same platform the Sonic is, it’s not simply like making the same car on the same assembly line, but putting in a different engine.

The body is different (the Bolt is quite a bit longer, too), a lot of the other systems differ in detail, and it all has to be integrated — and then it’s produced in much lower volume (for the next couple of years, at least).

Not Sonic, but compare to Cruze hatch. I suspect Cruze hatch is gas version using much of Bolt body.

Cruze and Bolt are on different vehicle platforms…best to compare to sonic, trax, encore

The bean-counters probably would figure in the ZEV credits the Bolt would accrue for them in regards to sales on gas vehicles.

So I can imagine they could lose 2k on each car and really not have lost anything.
In addition just the bragging rights of, we beat Tesla to market with an affordable long range vehicles, is worth millions. What I am getting at, like Coach Madden used to say, there are intangibles.

At some point you should explain about short term variable costs aka Factory Variable Costs as well as long term variable costs aka profitability. Without that any discussion about a vehicle “losing money” can’t go anywhere.

The Bloomberg article about the Bolt EV “losing money” — as in $9000 — was clearly based on the fully loaded margin needed by GM, which I believe is 140% of factory variable costs. Of course not every vehicle hits this bogey. It’s what GM needs overall.

Note if you take this approach the cost of producing the Bolt EV is $33,250, which is almost exactly the FVC suggested by the tear down cost estimate, which came in at $32,500.

Sounds like a snoozer for most readers…but I definitely get where you are coming from.

The thing about snazzy headline statements (whether they be right or wrong) is…they are always going to be snazzy headline statement.

You almost just have to suck it up, or get the rebuttal quote.

Sidenote: I did speak to some people at GM on the topic when it first came out, but they had no comment, at least for public consumption anyway.

Thanks Jay.

I thought GMs cell cost was known to be $145 per kWh..? That’s how I arrived at $5800 (60 kWh × 145 $/kWh) in cell cost. I admit I don’t really have much clue about how much it costs to make the pack from the cells, but I assumed this to be much less than the cell cost. Kinda odd how everyone, including the DoE, have been focusing so incessantly on cell cost targets if this is not the case. Maybe I’ve misunderstood it all along, but I believe when there’s speak of targets such as 500 Wh/kg and $100 per kWh, with no mention of whether it is cells or packs, it means we’re talking about cells.

Belatedly: Merry Christmas (or in these PC times, happy holidays!)

Yes, those costs are always at the cell level, as the cost of the pack/intergration/BMS can obviously vary quite a bit.

Sidenote to your quote:

“I thought GMs cell cost was known to be $145 per kWh..? That’s how I arrived at $5800 (60 kWh × 145 $/kWh) in cell cost.”

…I think you just made a little math snafu there, maybe you were thinking of a 40 kWh pack? 60 kWh @ $145 = $8,700

“We know it contains $5800 worth of LG Chem cells.”

LG Chem is only supplying 40 kWh? Stop the presses! Who supplies the other 20 kWh of cells? 🙂

I agree – the new Bolt is not a direct competitor with the upcoming Tesla 3…but the Bolt is only GM’s first real shot in this product category. What is of interest to me, is what comes next. Perhaps an electric version of the all-new Equinox, or the all-new Terrain. How would Americans react to an all-electric, mid-sized CUV? One thing for sure, 2017 will be very interesting from an automotive standpoint.

I wonder if they can fit the Bolt EV pack into the Chevy Tru 140S concept, or a Buick Avista?

Whenever Bolt is mentioned, it’s about “dorky” looks. It looks fine to me, no worse than other $30K hatch like GTI, old WRX, etc. It’s subjective.

As for utility, I wish GM would allow towing with Bolt (or explicitly state that it not void warranty if you do). That would’ve cemented the utility aspect of Bolt.

If the battery costs $9,000, then I can’t see how this car would not be profitable. That leaves $28,500 left to make the rest of the car. If this were a gasoline car (that looked exactly the same) they could produce and sell the whole car with engine and everything else for under $28,500 easily. and be profitable!

The only possible reason GM is not profitable on this car would be because they outsourced most of it to LG Chem and so LG is the one making the money.

As Jay mentioned above, that’s only cell price ($145/kWh). Pack will be more, though it’s hard to say how much more. Certainly, it won’t be double, so it’s between $9K and $18K. Either way, I don’t think GM is losing money.

So, in your considered opinion, how many kWh can you buy for $9000 if the price is $145 per kWh? And, in your opinion, what’s the capacity of the Bolt pack?

There must be something wrong with me. I think the Bolt is a gorgeous car. It does remind me of a Honda Fit, but that is high praise indeed. I’ve long wanted a Honda Fit like car, but electric with good range.

The Model 3? Well, it’s a car. Its looks don’t do anything for me, positive or negative. The only thing that it has that I would miss in a Bolt is supercharging.

I also find it amazing how common the “style over substance” view of cars seems to be. For practicality over its “city car” range, the Bolt is certainly better than the Model ≡.

Now, the M≡ will do better for long-distance trips, but since most Americans who travel more than 400 miles fly rather than drive, that’s a pretty narrow advantage. The Bolt reportedly has more passenger room, and certainly the hatchback gives better utility for hauling cargo (and large dogs).

Of course, there are other advantages to the M≡; I think it will be a luxurious car by comparison to the Bolt. Reviewers have criticized the Bolt’s seats for using thin padding backed up by springs, rather than the thicker padding used in most cars in its “semi-affordable” price range.

But for practicality, the Bolt beats the M≡ hands down. Ambulator, I guess you and I are in the minority insofar as not caring all that much about how “sexy” a car is. I mean, style is nice and all, but I would never chose a car based on style rather than practical considerations.

I actually like it more than the Tesla designs, which is a bit like nightrider cars but then without the Battlestar’s Cylon’s red light moving from left to right (but i guess you can stick some led light stripes on your Tesla, if you want to be in full style). Anyhow, why are the US not building a national CSS (and Chademo) grid with fast chargers every 70 miles or so (like we do in Europe)?

We’re making VW build ours….

“a wonderful byproduct of large battery paired to small car – the Bolt is pretty peppy (0 to 60 mph is reported as low as 6.5 seconds).”

That isn’t necessarily true. They could’ve made it perform like Leaf (0-60 in 10 seconds) since price is about what Leaf SV/SL cost. Considering SparkEV with much smaller battery than Leaf performed far better, it’s the case of GM choosing to make it perform, not just because of bigger battery. I think they could’ve made it perform even better had they used rear wheel drive.

Yes, the size and power of the electric motor, is a selling point. GM selected more performance.

Sure two motors would be faster than one — two motors make the drive train more efficient and a more efficient drive train for a given power level will give faster acceleration. However two motors also add cost.

The Bolt EV is considerably faster than the Spark EV 0-60 MPH and 50-70 MPH. They are both FWD, so I wouldn’t say they consciously downgraded the performance.

Bolt’s 0-30 is 2.9 sec, 0-60 is 6.5 sec, or 3.6 sec 30-60.

SparkEV 0-30 is 3 sec, 0-60 is 7.2 sec (or 7.0), or 4.2 sec for 30-60.

What those numbers tell me is that 0-30 is traction limited for both cars while Bolt can accelerate at that level of g-force to higher speed than SparkEV. That’s purely due to traction limit, and RWD would have more traction for acceleration.

If you’ve driven SparkEV, you’d know what I’m talking about with regard to traction. You can’t get much better than 0.42g, especially when using low rolling resistance tires.

Day-um. This Bolt EV was made for the likes of me! I’m a practical midwesterner who loves to go fishing.

We have a Leaf and we’re not kicking ourselves but once off lease the Bolt is my first choice now that its here!

Actually – If I had the Budget, and the Space to put a Second EV, I would prefer the Bolt EV over the Current BMW i3, and the Current Ford Focus EV, and the current Nissan LEAF, since Range is more of interest to me than Acceleration! (Plus I never did like those captivated back doors on the i3, and never really like them on my 2008 dodge Dakota Extra Cab Pickup, either!)

Well, that – and the other fact that GM is Bashing, Blocking, Insulting, Harassing, and Obstructing Tesla Motors, Every Way they can!

That alone would be an obstacle for me – However – if they stopped that shady attack game, and got smart – and partnered with Tesla for use of the Superchargers, I could maybe find a way to fit the Bolt EV into my priorities to purchase!

I agree about GM. They had the first electric car out there years ago. If they were interested in saving the planet they wouldn’t have crushed every single one of them except for one. Also this video seems so much like a Chevy commercial that I wouldn’t be surprised if GM isn’t paying Bloomberg to create this. So what if it is first. Can it drive itself? Can it avoid accidents by itself?

Mark, a lot of us don’t want our cars to drive us, we want a fun car to drive. I don’t want to live in Wally world where I expect to be cocooned, safe and idle.
GM led the way into Electric cars, the knowledge they gained building the EV1 is why the Bolt is such a solid car.

Since the Bolt EV is faster than the i3, caring about acceleration cuts the other way.

Another Euro point of view

Are those normal seats ? I mean I see no side support at all, I never saw seats like this except in car of the 1960s. Perhaps it is a US thing, perhaps fewer winding roads than over here.

Firstly this is a commuter car – but that won’t hold back demand – the majority of the trips in this will be to work and back. I think it will cut into some of the Tesla Market for those who just want an EV. The extra range is beneficial as people really don’t want range anxiety (and also saves them from having to charge it each night if their commute is short enough). I actually cannot see how Tesla raises enough money to get the Model 3 to market.

Dig a little deeper, you’ll see it.

Bolt is more anti-gas than anti-Tesla! At least I hope so!

In 2017 Tesla will probably sell more Model S then GM Bolts. And the reason won’t be low demand for Bolts..

Astute observation. Looking forward to InsideEVs monthly sales graphs for 2017. Will it outsell the eGolf? The i3? And for irony, the Tesla Model X?


It amazes me how many people want to handwave away the very real limit to how many batteries LG Chem can provide to GM for the Bolt, and write as if GM can just turn some magic knob to increase Bolt production to any level they want.

Reality check: LG Chem makes contracts for delivery of batteries in industrial quantities two years in advance. Two years.

So if GM decides today to crank up production of the Bolt past what they’ve already contracted with LG, then they’ll have to wait two years before that can happen.

Of course one can think of alternative scenarios, but not any which make sense. For example, GM could buy batteries from another battery manufacturer. But they’d never get that “sweetheart deal” of $145/kWh, so they’d wind up either having to raise the price of the Bolt, or have the unit price per car bite into the unit profit margin so much that GM actually would lose money on every car.

In any event: Those who envision GM ramping up production of the Bolt into the ballpark of 60,000 or more over the next two years… are going to be very disappointed. Not gonna happen!

We are not in 2011.

The idea that there will be this incredible surge of EV buyers who all show up at once, and that automakers must preemptively invest billions in building out their manufacturing so they can immediately meet this tsunami of demand… this is wishful thinking in the extreme. It’s the same kind of thinking that had GM projecting 6-digit Volt sales.

Yes, the Model III has lots of reservations… refundable $1000 reservations. That does not mean all those reservations will become sales, and it certainly doesn’t mean that Tesla will be able to build 400,000 Model IIIs (along with the Model S and X?) in one year.

GM has learned, from experience, the downsides of irrational exuberance with EV sales projections. The idea that GM will be sold out of Bolts everywhere in the country – for 2 years! – and be able to do absolutely nothing about it is absurd. GM is one of the largest companies in the world; they could buy other battery manufacturers if need be.

The Bolt will continue to expand the electric car market, not decrease demand for Teslas. It’s a solid car and I’m glad Chevy threw down the challenge to other big car manufacturers.

My hope is that shorter range EV’s don’t disappear, though. We only need one long-range car, and another with a 100-mile range. It’s very wasteful to carry around twice as many batteries as you actually need.

Both good points.

James said:

“My hope is that shorter range EV’s don’t disappear, though… It’s very wasteful to carry around twice as many batteries as you actually need.

Is it “wasteful” to have a battery pack with enough capacity to give you a safety margin on cold days, and for unexpected side trips? No.

Is it “wasteful” to have a battery pack with more capacity, so it can be charged faster? No.

Is it “wasteful” to have a battery pack with enough capacity to last for the expected life of the car, so it doesn’t have to be replaced? No.

Is it “wasteful” to have a battery pack with enough capacity that the resale value doesn’t drop like a rock, as the Leaf has? No.

Asking for small battery packs is false economy. Larger battery packs will expand the market for PEVs (Plug-in EVs) beyond the mere 1-2% that we have today. That expanded market will allow EV makers to bring down prices, even on cars with larger battery packs.

Asking for auto makers to continue making sub-200 mile BEVs is being penny-wise and pound-foolish.

+1 Pushmi-Pullyu

I agree with the article.

We have a 500e that we recently leased for commuting, and a Bolt on the way for longer driving.

In the perfect world, we would have a Bolt and a Model Y. We like hatches and practicality.

The reason to get a Model Y is the long distance capability, and of course the secret desire to have a beautiful car.

For me, though, practicality trumps everything except true ugliness and inefficiency.

Since the Bolt is not ugly to me, it is close to the perfect car. To be perfect, it would need something like the Tesla Supercharger network.

Chevy sells their ICE compact cars for between $16k – $20k so how on earth are they going to lose money on the $37k Bolt EV if the battery cost is $9k? There should be a cool $10k profit there on top of the profit they make on their ICE compacts.

There is a bit more to it than that.

It’s a back-of-the-envelope calculation of course but please do tell me where the last $10k that doesn’t go into the battery goes? Does it come with gold-plated bumpers?

$9k is for battery cells only.
Some $5k for putting these cells together into pack.
Electric motor, inverter, rectifier – all the power electronics. This is supposed to cost a bit less than ICE in mass production like 0.5 million cars/year, but Bolt is not likely to reach such production level soon and it is likely to cost more. As it is bundled together with supposed $145/kWh battery cell cost, it can be anything. E.g. like with cable company, you may get internet for $1/month if you order $70/month cable TV. Or cable TV for $1/month if you order $70/month internet. But minimum price for the bundle or not bundle is still $70.

Anyway this Bloomberg gossip about $9k loss is just that, a gossip that isn’t worth too much attention.

Big 3 manufacturing cost is ~55% of MSRP, a bit higher for small cars. 25% is selling, marketing, etc. (including dealer margin and discounting). A bit over 5% is R&D, similar for corporate overhead. The rest is profit and miscellaneous.

Bolt is a bit larger than the $17.5k base Sonic Hatch, so figure a Bolt ICE base price is 20k with a 12k manufacturing cost. EV drive trains are simpler and cheaper than ICE (including exhaust, etc.) but small ICE’s are cheap so the savings is limited to maybe 1k. Add 9k for battery cells and 3k for pack+cooling to get a Bolt EV manufacturing cost of 23k. That’s consistent with a $38k base MSRP.

Where GM loses on the Bolt is spreading higher-than-normal R&D across much lower-than-normal volumes. They see it as an investment in autonomous ride sharing, though, which looms large in the future. And it’s not $9k/car, I figure that number came from a disgruntled ICE exec whose pet project lost out to the Bolt.

“Where GM loses on the Bolt is spreading higher-than-normal R&D across much lower-than-normal volumes.”

Yes but that’s only valid if they decide to stop making EVs once they’ve sold 30k of them. That is not going to happen. Not only is this not their first EV so some of the R&D comes from earlier projects and they most likely going to continue releasing more EV models where the extra R&D spent on this car will matter. Thirdly they are going to make as many Bolt EVs as they can sell which over the years will be a lot more than 30k. So setting a number on the R&D cost per car is simply impossible but it’s certainly much less than (money spent so far)/30k.

“Someone out there” said:

“…please do tell me where the last $10k that doesn’t go into the battery goes?”

Auto makers have had more than a century to figure out how to bring down costs on making gasmobiles. BEVs? Not so much.

Development costs — R&D and tooling-up — for the Bolt are, without question, significantly higher than for the average GM-made gasmobile. Future BEVs from GM should have a lower overhead for development costs, but every auto maker has to spend that development money on its first BEV. For example, a Nissan exec was quoted as saying, back in late 2010, that they expected to start turning an overall profit on the Leaf only in the third year of production. Again, that was due to higher than normal development costs for a new car model.

But the vast majority of the car is made exactly the same as any ICE car. It’s not like you have to re-learn how to do metal stamping or upholstery when you decide to make an EV. The Bolt is even made on the very same production line as the Sonic!

There is a bit more to it than that…

No there isn’t. If anything it’s less since some of the development and production effort is taken by LG

The tear analysis down came in at $32,520. So a $5000 margin. However, GM needs the aggregate margin on all vehicles to be 140% of direct costs and $37500 doesn’t get you there.

But add in 4 ZEV credits at $3500/credit and you’re at $6000 above 140% of MSRP.

What teardown analysis is that?

> It made it because it could.

I don’t agree with that. It kinda of dumb thing to say.

I believe GM made the Bolt, partly in response to Tesla, and other EV makers, but because Mary Barra, GM’s CEO, is pro-EV, and believes it’s going to be important in the future. They can’t afford to not be in this space. Same with every other automaker. Momentum is building, and now is the time to devout time and money into R&D.

Right. GM didn’t develop the Bolt specifically to compete with the Model ≡ or any other car. GM developed a BEV because they don’t want to be caught like Eastman Kodak was during the digital camera revolution, refusing to invest in the new tech, falling behind and then flailing at trying to play catch-up when it was too late. Altho GM has a strong disincentive to expand its line of plug-in EVs — just look at how many years GM avoided putting Voltec into any other car except the designed-to-fail Cadillac ELR — they certainly do want to develop EV tech in-house to the point that they can expand their EV line quickly when (not if) the market starts moving that way. Altho GM is fighting against the EV revolution, lobbying against CAFE and CARB standards and supporting legislation in various States to keep out competition from Tesla, at the same time they can see the handwriting on the wall. GM as a corporate entity knows that the days of gasmobiles are numbered, and that EVs are the future of automobiles. GM is trying to hold back the tide, but at least GM executives are not burying their heads in… Read more »
GM would also prevent Toyota, or BMW, or Hyundai from selling cars if they could. That has nothing to do with Tesla in particular or an anti-EV mindset. It’s funny that you complain about Tesla bashing, yet happily promote the idea that GM is being forced to produce EVs against its will. GM has more than enough ZEVs credits from the Volt and Spark EV to never have made the Bolt at all. Put rather simply, GM has the best PHEV tech in the market by a sizable margin, and has the best $-per-mile BEV in the market – again, by a sizable margin. GM isn’t “trying to hold back the tide”; they are bringing the tide in, more than any other manufacturer… including Tesla, who still only makes chariots for the ultra-rich. They are top quality chariots, to be sure; one of the best chariots money can buy. But they are not for the commonfolk, and even the Model III is not intended for the plebes. The least-wealthy demographic Tesla will EVER target – according to Elon – is the BMW 3-Series buyer. That’s the bottom of their barrel. It is only the staid ICE manufacturers that have plans… Read more »

Blah! Blah! It has been over a week since GM delivered the first Bolts to three lucky buyers in Fremont. Has anyone heard of anyone else, anywhere, taking delivery of their Bolt?

“$9,000 is the number Bloomberg has floated in the past on much the company could be losing for each Bolt sold out of the gate, with that number coming down over time.” ” alt=”” /> Well, at least here that highly misleading statement has a lame, half-hearted qualification stuck on at the end. But it’s still highly misleading. Is it just me, or is anyone else increasingly tired of seeing this sort of mostly if not entirely untrue statement about every single plug-in EV that’s put into production? Why is it that even financially oriented reporters and websites, such as Bloomberg, use this nonsensical, kindergarten-level way of reporting a financial situation? I remember, back when the Leaf was first being sold to the public, a Nissan exec saying something like (paraphrasing here) ~”We plan to start earning an overall profit on the program in the third year of production.”~ So, here’s a good rule of thumb: It takes longer for an auto maker to make back its investment on developing its first BEV; longer than it takes for an average gasmobile model. But even the average gasmobile doesn’t earn any profit in its first year of production. Auto makers have… Read more »

these fanboy fights are so annoying. dumb comparisons are being made, this is a great car and to hopefully have more than one 200+ mile range reasonably priced ev to be available this time next year is amazing. good for chevy.

A car the size of Chevy-Bolt will cost $18,000 to produce and adding $9,000 (Battery) will increase the cost to $27,000, but with the motor being $2,000 cheaper than engine will reduce the final cost to $25,000. So GM must be making $12,500 on every Bolt sold.

All this talk of loss is baseless.

Yeah, a lot of it is baseless. Since GM is charging $4750 more for the US model then a comparably equipped Canadian model, I’d think it is safe to assume they are making a bit of money on the US versions. Doesn’t seem as though they are letting the dealers profit much on the car either, so it will be up to the customer to insist on seeing the BOLT. This is all fine with me, since I don’t begrudge GM making a bit of a profit. They are almost certainly NOT making a Bonanza on the vehicle – I find it to be exceedingly high-value. And why does every commenter have to say how ugly the car is? It is a Beauty compared to that Pointiac Vibe – to me the front of that car looks like a Cow standing up – and farmers will appreciate that is not the most beautiful sight. I liked the look of the ‘old’ S, of course I loved the Lotus Elise, but don’t care for the new “S” chicken lips look, and frankly, I’d have to see the M3 in person to see if it has ‘great lines’. I’m not wild about… Read more »

Just shows what complete bunch of dullards work at Bloomberg as the most obvious thing that both cars are is an EV!

All this profit loss discussion assumes that GM makes money on a Sonic. While it might, it isn’t necessarily true. GM with it’s current structure probably wouldn’t be profitable as a whole if it just sold Sonics – even if it sold 10 million Sonics a year. This is one marker of profitability used in this discussion. As we all remember, GM sells the Sonic to improve the CAFE numbers. For each Sonic it sells, it can sell X Suburbans, which might have a Tesla like gross margin. So it can sell the Sonic at a $2000 loss (hypothetically) and make $10,000 on the Suburban. I think we can all agree that profit is higher on higher priced cars. Mostly we can agree that the Sonic could be a money loser by using some mechanisms of accounting. Just remember this when we see the headlines that the Bolt loses money. I should point out that we should all try to respect each other’s opinions. We all should consider the danger of tribalism. Unfortunately, forces out there are increasing the strength and power of tribalism. In the automotive world, we should be like the US and USSR of the 60’s. Completely… Read more »

The REAL story about the Bolt is turning out to be the seats. GM went with a new thinner seat (which they said contributed to more room overall in the car) that is essentially a hammock. Regular Joe test drives are now slowly coming in and folks are reporting the seat frame can be felt through the seat and is quite uncomfortable.

Indeed, I felt it on both the cloth and leather seat versions when I sat in them at local car shows. Some things are easy to overlook, but an uncomfortable seat could be a deal breaker. Indeed, I think had a Bolt for a few days and noted the seat comfort issue too.

This would be a crying shame if GM got this wrong!

Well, that is something that can be easily changed in future models. But I guess it will slightly reduce the passenger volume.

“Uncomforaable Seats”.

That is odd. Many ‘fit’ test drivers have said how ‘comfortable’ and ‘pleasant’ the car is to drive.

Perhaps you feel the seat interior if you happen to be excessively ‘Gravity Challenged’.

Perhaps the same people who said it was impossible to negotiate a Roadster.

Ok, so for the over 300 pound crowd, the Bolt may not be a comfortable car for them. I can live with that.