General Motors Says Without Chevrolet Volt, There’d Be No Bolt


2017 Chevrolet Volt

2017 Chevrolet Volt

Back in 2007, then-CEO of General Motors, Rick Wagoner, showed off the Chevrolet Volt concept at the North American International Auto Show.

The Volt launch a couple of years later with much fanfare. Despite it being a bit overpriced, it sold well enough to convince General Motors to develop a next-generation version of the Volt.

Not only did the original Volt convince GM to do Gen 2, but also it laid the foundation for what would later become the Chevy Bolt, the world’s first long-range affordable electric car.

Quoting Bill Wallace, General Motors director of global battery systems and hardware engineering:

“Without the Volt, we would not be able to do the Bolt with confidence.”

“With the Gen 1 Volt, we had to literally invent the process from nothing. We had to invent the lab. We had to hire the team. We had to invent the tests. With Bolt, we knew a lot more, but we were trying to move a lot faster, and we’re asking a lot more out of the battery.”

As Automotive News explains:

“The Volt didn’t keep GM out of bankruptcy (or save Wagoner’s job), and consumers didn’t embrace it the way GM had projected. But it did set GM on a decadelong path that culminated in the launch of the Chevy Bolt, a battery-powered car that presages a future with self-driving, emissions-free vehicles that consumers might share rather than own.”

The Bolt has position GM atop the electric car segment once again, meaning that like when the original Volt launched back in 2010, the Bolt is without competition.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Perhaps even more importantly, General Motors beat electric automaker Tesla at its own game. By coming to market with the Bolt ahead of the Model 3, GM proved that it can still operate swiftly and react to buyer demand.

Automotive News states:

“The fact that the Bolt runs on electricity is now only part of its story: Its greatest legacy may lie in its ability to help GM navigate a future in which automakers that fall too far behind can become obsolete.”

GM CEO Mary Barra adds to the conversation, stating:

“When I look at General Motors, and I look at our size, our strength, our technological capability, I feel there’s no reason why General Motors shouldn’t be on the leading edge of defining the future of personal mobility.”

“There was good work that started with the first-generation Volt and now with the second-generation Volt. Now, this technology platform that is propelled with a battery really puts us in the position of demonstrating we’re technology leaders.”

It remains to be seen if the Bolt will be more successful than the Volt (in terms of overall sales). It all depends on the customers now (and maybe a bit on President Donald Trump, too), says Darin Gesse, product manager for the Bolt:

“Customers are the ultimate validation, We can’t control gas prices. We can’t control what Trump will do.”

GM is confident it delivered in a winning product in the Bolt, but whether or not buyers buy in volume will ultimately determine the Bolt’s overall success. It’s in your hands now…buyers!

Source: Automotive News

Category: Chevrolet

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62 responses to "General Motors Says Without Chevrolet Volt, There’d Be No Bolt"
  1. Bacardi says:

    And without the Tesla Roadster, there’d be no Volt…

    1. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sven says:

      And without the General Motors EV1, there’d be no Tesla Roadster…

      1. ffbj says:

        Close. But you should have said without GM crushing the ev1. Of course they had to make it first.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Hmmmm. Well, there is a development path that started with a GM concept car EV, the Impact, which lead to AC Propulsion’s tZero prototype, which directly inspired the Tesla Roadster; and it was the news of Tesla putting the Roadster into production which inspired GM to put the Volt into production, and Nissan to produce the Leaf.

        But to say there wouldn’t have been any Roadster without the EV1… I don’t think you can point to any actual evidence of that. It was Alan Cocconi’s invention of an improved integrated AC motor controller which was the key to the modern EV revolution. That first appeared in the Impact, and then Cocconi went on to be co-founder of AC Propulsion. Martin Eberhard took the tZero for a drive, wanted one of his own, but AC Propulsion refused to build one for him. So he decided to form a company to build one for himself and a few others, named it Tesla Motors… and the rest is history!

        1. unlucky says:

          Separating the Impact and the EV1 is very strange to me. They are basically the same thing. It didn’t even undergo the normal level of changes from concept to production because the EV1 wasn’t really designed for mass production anyway.

          1. bill says:

            There should be no GM Period

          2. Isaac says:

            Read up on “the car that could” you will find how EV1 is so different than the Impact
            They looked the same but there was a whole lot of re-engineering

    2. SparkEV says:

      I don’t know about that. Nissan had the Leaf, which was the “competitor” to Volt in early days.

      1. Daniel says:

        No the Leaf was not a direct competitor to the Chevrolet Volt the Leaf was and is a BEV, the Chevrolet Volt is a PHEV or EREV. While they may have been crushed shopped on their various and different virtues they were not direct competitors IMHO.

        1. Daniel says:

          “cross shopped”

        2. Brian says:

          So what makes cars competitors? I cross-shopped the two in 2012. I chose a Leaf because it fit my needs/desires better. But I didn’t know that going in. It could have been the Volt. I don’t understand how that doesn’t make them competitors.

          1. Brian says:

            To put that another way, if the Leaf was not around, I would be driving a Volt today. Chevy lost a sale to me because of the Leaf. I’m sure they lost others too (and likewise, Nissan lost sales to the Volt).

            1. Bill Howland says:

              Speaking of which, I drove my BOLT ev within a few miles of empty – all it did was flash its amber lights at me, but the car kept moving. I’m glad they didn’t copy the Leaf’s guess-o-meter.

              The Tesla Roadster had an excellent battery.

              I wonder if the Model 3 is like the Model S in every way?

              1. Doug says:

                Where did you purchase your Bolt? I’m in Lewiston and was told that nothing before April.

                1. Bill Howland says:

                  West Herr and Paddock got their’s on 2/25/17. Joe Basil got 2, a Red metalic with heated seats, which was delivered 2/28/17 and I bought on the same day. They also have (or had) a white one with zero options. I had a deposit down on the blue metalic one at Paddock with a $5000 non-refundable deposit, but they started changing the deal, so I demanded and got my money back.

                  1. Josh Bryant says:

                    Awesome Bill! Congrats

                    Think you could do a write up on it after you have lived with it for a few weeks?

                    1. Bill Howland says:

                      Ok Josh sure… Just tell me what you want to know and I’ll answer to the best of my ability.
                      I’ve had the car for almost 2 weeks, I’ve done a long (300 mile plus) trip during the coldest, windiest day of the winter season so far (15 deg fahrenheit), and tried discharging the battery to within a few miles of zero. When driving under 5% range, the display will chime at you a few times and then flash battery lights at you as a continual reminder the end is near – it lowers the 200 hp motor down to about 35 hp when the battery is really dead. And if you don’t feel comfortable charging the battery up to a full 100% (regen reduced) every night , in the hopes of increasing battery life – although there is no indication from GM that your charging habits will have any impact on battery life, if you still want to play it on the safe side, there is a setting called ‘hilltop reserve’ that only charges the battery up to 90% rather than 100% if you are fearful of straining the battery on routine every day use. Obviously before going on a trip you’d shut this off so the battery can charge up to a full 60 kwh.

                      Overall, I find the standard cloth seats very comfortable sitting 3 hours at a stretch (I almost never take coffee breaks when driving a long trip). They also have a tasteful red close stitching that happens to match the paint job. The front seats are a bit narrow, but I’m used to riding a bicycle so narrow seating is the rule there also. The back seats are voluminous with the absolutely flat floor;, there is easily room for 3 avg sized adults.

                      My car has only 2 options – Heated front seats/heated steering wheel – leather wrapped, and the $395 RED metallic paint.

                      Got about $400 OFF MSRP, plus didn’t have to pay for the $500 lanechange warning stuff which I didn’t want, so overall, with sales tax, saved about a $1000 over the next best dealer’s deal.

                      The mileage is not quite as good as I was expecting, but then again the weather during my test trip was the absolute worst of the year. Shorter trips thankfully can occur with the heater and defroster, since then I don’t care about the battery drain.

                      A buffalo /syracuse/ buffalo trip in an non-tesla currently has ZERO fast chargers available… The ONLY one in the area is near the pennsylvania border and is horrendously unreliable and currently per plugshare out of service (Diane’s auto in Ithaca) – besides the fact that one is ridiculously out of the way. Its much easier to find a public Level 2 – 6 kw charging facility.

                      Interestingly, the ChargePoint I stopped at in Liverpool, NY charged my Roadster at 32 amperes. But it would only do 30 on the BOLT. I’m surmising that my Roadster misinterpretted the data stream from the CP, and set the current draw mistakenly to 32 amps, whereas my BOLT is interpreting the data correctly and drawing 30 amps on this 30 amp rated charger. I could only get a 32 amp charge rate on my roadster on approximately every 1 out of 5 chargepoints – and never on anyone else’s brand of wall box.

                      Red Leaf Brian and Eric (Clarkson) Cote also test drove the vehicle – you might want to get their thoughts, but for a FWD vehicle, the car actually has a bit too much power as it can easily spin the front tires when stomping on the accelerator. Much faster than the already fast volt and ELR.

                      One thing about the power train – you hear quite a bit of AC motor whine when decelerating hard, either putting the shifter in Low or using the regen paddle, or getting the fastest stopping by doing both at the same time. At 75 mph, the car is exceedingly quiet, and I don’t hear the double reduction gearbox at all – this gives me confidence that the gearbox will last a long, long time as it doesn’t seem to be the least bit overstressed, even at high speeds.

                      Plenty of cubic feet of space behind the rear seats, and supposedly bigger than an “S” with the 60/40 split rear seats folded down… The cargo area is so tall that even unwieldy objects such as chairs or bicycles should be no problem.

                      The tiny snub nose snout of the BOLT ev proves this car was designed from the ground up as a Battery Electric – the car is a true marvel of space efficiency, being large on the inside and absolutely tiny on the outside.

                      Inside, the LT interior (basic Biscaynesque) is pretty chevy plastic all the way, but it is tastefully done, and fools some people into thinking it is a higher class interior than it really is… standard cheapie floor mats are easy to vacuum and clean.

                      Since the car is provided with Michelin Run-Flats, they don’t even provide you with a compressor/inflator, but its a dealer option if you feel you must have one.

                      You’ll have to ask a BOLT ev owner who has the $750 ccs JACK option how the fast charging performance is – I only have the standard 7200 watt (maximum) charger, as well as the standard 8/12 ampere (900-1400 watt) occassional use charger cord – probably the same as is supplied with the new Volts.

                      Car is no Roadster, nor as good as the Silky-Smooth Cadillac ELR which is my other current car – but I agree this car is impressive for the price – no wonder it keeps winning awards.

              2. georgeS says:

                Alright so Bill H got his Bolt!!

          2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:


            It’s silly to talk about a binary, either/or situation where two vehicles will either be cross-shopped, or not. Name any two highway-capable passenger vehicles, and chances are that at least a few people somewhere will be deciding between those two, no matter how disparate they are. Somewhere, someone is musing over whether to buy a used Yugo… or a brand-new Rolls-Royce!

            It makes more sense to talk about the degree to which any two passenger vehicles directly compete with each other, or don’t.

            And altho of course there will be people deciding between the Bolt EV and the Model 3, it seems that most of the talk in this sort of article is just reporters trying to create a “fight” where none exists, by describing a mild market competition as though it were a duel to the death between titans!

            Let’s remember that 98-99% of the new car market is gasmobiles. It’s that market segment where most of the buyers for the Bolt EV and the Model 3 will come from, not from the mere 1-2% of the market which is plug-in EVs!

            Or to put it another way: Tesla will sell as many Model 3’s as it can make, at least for the first 2-3 years of production. The existence of the Bolt EV won’t have the slightest impact on that.

            I hope the same is true of the Bolt EV; I hope that there will be more demand than what GM can make, given its limited battery supply (a limit which Tesla won’t have). I hope the drop-off in Bolt EV sales during February was just an anomaly, and that demand will remain strong for the car. Time will tell.

            1. unlucky says:

              Everyone has limits on supplies. Even Tesla. Tesla can no more snap their fingers and triple their battery output beyond their plans than anyone else can.

              The only real difference is Tesla planned to make a larger supply than GM. Either will have similar difficulties if there is more demand than expected and thus each would have supply problems in that case.

            2. ModernMarvelFan says:

              “I hope the drop-off in Bolt EV sales during February was just an anomaly, and that demand will remain strong for the car. Time will tell.”

              There aren’t enough demand of EV outside of Tesla and some of that Tesla demand aren’t because it is EV. Part of that Tesla demand is because it is cool/unique/rare/high performance.

              So, unless consumers massively showing up to demand EVs, the sales will remain low.

              We need gas price to go to $5/gallon and electricity rate fall below $0.05/kWh. Do that EV demand will sustain itself and force automakers to bring the best to the market!

              1. ClarksonCote says:

                Honesty I think what would be even better is to keep the vehicle price of EVs decreasing through cost efficiencies and cheaper batteries.

                When they get just as cheap as their counterparts it is a no brainer regardless of gas price or electricity price.

                1. Ziv says:

                  Clarkson, I agree that a continuing drop in the price of BEV’s/EREV’s will do a lot to increase demand for electric cars. Relying on/hoping for a large increase in gasoline is probably not going to work with the frackers producing oil profitably for less than $50 a barrel. It isn’t a huge amount of oil that they are producing but it is just enough to generate a slight supply overage.

                  And it does seem like battery prices have continued their rapid price drop. If the base model III arrives in any numbers at $35k next year, the pressure will be on all the car makers to build BEV’s at or close to the average price of a new car, $32k. That number is inflated a bit by the high price pickups that are so popular, but if the base Bolt and Leaf II can have an MSRP under $30k, the sales numbers will increase. And that will happen despite the credit going away. But in the short term, I think the Volt is going to eat the Bolt’s lunch.

              2. Terawatt says:

                Then why is GM so slow to room or the car to more markets? It’s not going to be available nationwide until September…!! And loads of people are waiting for the Ampera-e, which in Norway alone could sell GMs global Bolt goal of 30k cars!

                Something is fishy here.

                Btw, the story they’re serving up here about the Bolt existing thanks to the Volt is horse****. Everyone knows it’s thanks to Tesla!

                Even Americans will eventually understand that EVs are much better in every way. All this talk about gas needing to cost above $5 per gallon is nonsense, even though gas ought to cost much more than that…

                1. Bill Howland says:

                  No, that is not true. I’ve owned both a 2011 Volt and Roadster. While Bob Lutz used the Roadster example, (which predated Musk’s hostile takeover of Tesla but, the existing Roadster was the reason FOR his hostile takeover of it,) to shame the ‘stick in the mud’ engineering group at GM, it is much more correct to say these 2 things:

                  1). There would be no VOLT without Bob Lutz.

                  (There’s a slim chance there might be something else – but I’d say the low-end of the EV market owes him an extreme debt of gratitude. And the fact that the VOLT seems to be, at ONCE, the MOST RELIABLE plug-in, and also, the safest car of all time (to my knowledge no one has died in a road collision, in the GEN 1 VOLT)- is DIRECTLY due to Lutz. He micromanaged everything on that car.

                  2). The VOLT is a far more complex car than the Roadster was, and its battery pack although heated and refrigerated, was not as efficient as the VOLT’s. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the inspiration for the ‘t’ predecessor of the Roadster was GM’s own EV1. Even by the time of the ‘t’, ac drive technology was common place in the electrical industry; in any event the EV1 predated anything from Tesla.

                  That said, Mr. Musk thanked me for my purchase, whom I respect much more than the sillier complainers here.

                  Now, hopefully, Tesla will have a success with the ‘3’. It aligns itself with my desire for lowered-cost electric tranportation, me being on my 5th EV, and I also like that in a few years, it will be available (according to current plans) in a ‘reduced options’ stripped model to keep the cost down. (My BOLT ev is that way, it only having 2 options, but then heated seats are of huge importance in my area to make the battery range last).

                  A related article says the Ampera-E will be available by you in May, 2017. Pretty quick if you ask me.

                  1. VFanRJ says:

                    You made a couple of good concrete observations. As you said, Lutz used the Tesla roadster to show his engineers that they didn’t know what they were talking about.

                    1. Bill Howland says:

                      Lutz: “…If a few guys in a California garage make a Corvette-fast sports car that will go 200 miles, shouldn’t GM at least TRY to make an Electric Car?…”

        3. unlucky says:

          If the LEAF is no competitor to the Volt then surely the Roadster isn’t either.

    3. DJ says:

      Hahahahaha, that’s funny, and wrong.

      1. viktor says:

        No, Volt was maid because of that Tesla showed that it was possible to make an electric car with the roadster, Bob Lutz have him selves admitted it.

        1. ffbj says:

          True. Good Ole’ Bob:

          "Salty" Bob

        2. Spider-Dan says:

          That quote is only part of the history.

          Lutz WANTED to build a high-end BEV sportscar to compete with the Roadster. (You may notice that the Volt does not meet that description. But his lieutenants convinced him that the more important target was not the Roadster, but the Prius, and that GM needed to make something to leapfrog Toyota, not punch down at a startup.

      2. Get Real says:

        Lol, and for an anti-Tesla troll your both wrong AND not funny DJ.

    4. unlucky says:

      And without the AC Propulsion T-Zero there’d be no Tesla Roadster. There likely would have been no Tesla at all since Eberhard started Tesla to attempt to commercialize the T-Zero.

      1. DJ says:

        And with out God, or a random meteor/asteroid that had some life on it that hit Earth Billions of years ago (depending on your views) there would be no GM, Tesla, or any of us.


        1. unlucky says:

          Yeah, this has been getting a bit reductive.

          1. ffbj says:

            True. It becomes a bit of a stretch when you have to go that far back.

    5. Spider-Dan says:

      It’s more accurate to say that without the Prius, there would be no Volt, and the ELR would have been less luxury-focused and more performance-focused.

  2. Brian says:

    “We can’t control what Trump will do”

    But we can try!

    1. Martin Welzl says:

      Hahhahahaah +1 :'(

  3. Ford Prefect says:

    Enough patting yourselves on the back for 2 cars!

    Get to work like the Germans and Koreans and start putting the Voltec system into ALL GM vehicles.

    1. unlucky says:

      Get to work like the Germans? German car companies have done very little beyond making minimum-range PHEVs so far.

      GM is ahead of the German and Korean makes so far. Of course this may not last.

      1. Bill Howland says:

        And of course, all the German auto reviews start with “From Germany, where everything always works perfectly”.

        Except for the emissions software from VW/Bosch.

        For those who say it did work perfectly, I’d say not quite… They got caught!

        1. Terawatt says:

          Can you point us to even a single German review that starts that way? Or even show one that expresses that sentiment?

          1. Bill Howland says:

            Yeah, the Autofuegal (sp?) guy talks like that… You must have missed it. I forget which ev he was reviewing. But my ears perked up when he said it.

      2. john1701a says:

        >> German car companies have done very little beyond making minimum-range PHEVs so far.

        BMW delivered i3, the vehicle Volt was meant to be… a true range-extender, rather than a plug-in hybrid. Range of i3’s first year offering was double that of Volt too.

        BMW’s use of carbon-fiber has been impressive, so well implemented, most people don’t even realize that huge step forward in weight reduction even took place.

        1. john1701a says:

          Adding to my own post, it needs to be pointed out that carbon fiber is roughly 20 times more expensive than steel. It is also stronger than it. BMW’s effort to drive down production cost should get some attention. It’s an important move forward.

          Note that the rear hatch in Prius Prime is also carbon fiber. A partnership with BMW was established with Toyota to share expertise (choosing a complex piece that will have to endure impact routinely) and help with the cost reduction is a big deal for mass acceptance.

  4. CLIVE says:

    Where they F’ed up was with the names.

    IF they were smart they would had one car line like PRIUS, and called that line VOLT or BOLT.

  5. BraveLilToaster says:

    “Perhaps even more importantly, General Motors beat electric automaker Tesla at its own game.”

    Or something. It depends on how sales actually go after the Model 3 release, doesn’t it?

    1. Spider-Dan says:

      They beat them in the present tense. Who knows what the future will hold?

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      I find it to be just an attempt by reporters to find drama where none exists.

      Did GM “beat Tesla at its own game” by marketing the Volt two years before the Model S? Did Nissan do the same with the Leaf?

      Let’s wait another couple of years and see if anyone is still talking about GM “beating Tesla at its own game”. My guess is that by then, the reporters will have changed their tune to gin up drama by castigating GM for not even trying to match Tesla on production.

  6. Bill Howland says:

    From the article:

    “..Despite it being a bit overpriced, it sold well enough to convince General Motors to develop a next-generation version of the Volt…”

    Why are GM products time and again listed by IEV’s as overpriced? When cars that are a much poorer value are never critiqued?

    Bob Lutz needs to be credited here, once again:

    “…Hey, you’re getting an $80,000 vehicle for $43,000…. What is wrong with that?”

    1. unlucky says:

      Yeah, it gets a bit strange sometimes.

      Given how much new technology was developed for the car (new to GM at the least) it’s not surprising it was pricey. It says something that even in this rapidly advancing market years later it would still be almost competitive at its initial price.

      You get a lot of stuff for the price in a Volt. Virtually all of an ICE car and virtually all of an EV in the same package.

      And as you say rarely are non-GM EVs/PHEVs criticized for being overpriced. Sure the Ford Focus Electric gets knocked around a lot. But does anyone spend much ink on the $33K price of a FIAT 500e? Is the Model S or X called out for their sky-high prices? What about the Volvo XC90 PHEV which runs about $85K with a miserable 9kWh pack for 17 miles of (sort of) all-electric range (only about 120HP in EV mode)?

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        “Is the Model S or X called out for their sky-high prices?”

        Yes, and frequently so.

        But I agree with your main point here; I’m just quibbling over a detail.

  7. ModernMarvelFan says:

    This clearly shows that if we want more PEVs in the future, we have to start buying PEVs today to show the demand is real and it is there.

    Stop buying any non-PEVs is the best way to show that.

    Give them evidence to show that PEV demand is real and is sustained!

  8. georgeS says:

    I can’t believe all these comments about the political aspects about the Volt. Who frickin’ cares. It was really a well designed car. I loved mine. Never had one problem with it. It was fun to drive. The EV1 was before its time also. As an engineer I really enjoyed watching it because it was a difficult problem statement for the engineers.

    The engineers did a good job on the EV1 and the Volt.

    There isn’t one GM there are GM engineers that do a great job solving their problem statement from management

    …and the there’s GM management.

  9. Russ says:

    The Volt (or Ampera in the UK) is still unique and no other manufacturer has bettered it. GM does take flak over its past but they have an amazing EV team.

    1. ModernMarvelFan says:

      There is RHD driving version of the Bolt or Ampera E planned.

      Maybe PSA would license it and change that.

  10. Kuk says:

    According to Bob Lutz there will be no Volt without Tesla Roadster.

  11. It’s amazing that this article was written without any mention that GM was REQUIRED to build some Zero Emission Vehicle;

    1) First in the late 1990’s, which was famously stopped in 2000-2003

    2) Again in 2012 through 2025.

    1. ModernMarvelFan says:

      They aren’t required to build ZEV vehicles. They can purchase ZEV credits to meet the requirement!