GM Believes In EVs, Will Push Forward Despite Dwindling Incentives

2 months ago by Steven Loveday 102

General Motors

Chevrolet Bolt at the recent 2017 Bolt EV: Autocross Drive event

General Motors believes that EVs are destined to go mainstream in the U.S., but the appealing federal tax credit will not be around to help for much longer.

According to up-to-date data (via Wards Auto):

GM has delivered 150,051 PHEVs in the U.S. since Jan 1, 2010, when counting began for the credits. Tesla follows with an estimated 132,970 sales, although their total should rise sharply when thousands of reservations for the Model 3 are filled, putting the EV-maker past 200,000 deliveries ahead of GM.

Executives at Nissan, which has sold 113,282 Leaf BEVs, told WardsAuto in 2015 they were hoping to negotiate with federal officials to keep the credits going. Absent that, Nissan says more work must be done to slash battery costs.”

General Motors

Chevrolet Volt

If Tesla is able to hit production and delivery targets for the Model 3, the above will likely prove true.

However, Chevrolet makes about 200 Bolts per day, and the automaker is also still successfully selling the Bolt’s PHEV older brother, the Chevrolet Volt.

The all-new 2018 Nissan LEAF could enjoy marked success as well (and there is still the rumor-mill that an all-electric SUV may arrive in the US in 2018 as well), making it a mystery regarding which automaker will hit 200,000 units first.

Regardless of who does, all three of the front-runners will find themselves in a similar situation in not-so-many months.

WardsAuto had an opportunity to chat with the product manager for the Chevrolet Bolt, Darrin Gesse, at the recent Chevrolet Bolt Autocross event. Gesse shared:

“We are near the tipping point for mainstream adoption.”

Gesse explained that EVs are becoming more affordable, primarily due to decreasing battery costs. He also pointed out that factors like the vehicles’ long range, performance, instant torque, and overall drivability are playing a substantial role in more widespread adoption. However, the $7,500 Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicle Credit also plays a significant role. Gesse continued:

“Range anxiety is no longer an issue.

EVs can be fun to drive. You get that EV smile.

We are increasing sales month by month.”

Gesse also supplied WardsAuto with some interesting data:

  • 56% of Bolt buyers cite range as the No.1 reason for purchase
  • 97% of owners report the car’s range exceeded expectations
  • 33% of Bolt owners did not previously own an alternative-propulsion vehicle
  • One-third of Bolt buyers traded in a gasoline-powered car
  • 70% of Bolt buyers are new to the Chevrolet brand

These stats are compelling. It’s almost crazy to think that people are moving to Chevrolet just because the automaker offers an EV. While sales are not staggering, Chevrolet is breeding new EV buyers. For these reasons, Gesse is confident that GM will continue its EV efforts. WardsAuto asked him what the automaker plans to do when the rebate expires. Gesse wouldn’t admit that Chevrolet may have to lower the price. However, he did say that not only will GM not back away from EVs, but:

“If anything, we’re gearing up more and more.”

Source: WardsAuto

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102 responses to "GM Believes In EVs, Will Push Forward Despite Dwindling Incentives"

  1. WadeTyhon says:

    I talked to dozens of people about my Bolt at NDEW this year. Model 3 reservation holders, Leaf owners, Volt owners… all were surprised at how large it is inside.

    Especially a family with 2 kids who were disappointed with the range of the new leaf. And a Tesla owner who was over 6 foot who couldn’t believe how easy it was to get in and out of and how much head room and leg room he had.

    And owners of other EVs were really surprised by my 4.3 m/kwh average efficiency… during the hottest summer months… with the A/C set to 72* and the car always driven in sport mode! 🙂

    The Bolt rocks. Volt rocks. Spark EV rocks. GM has shown they can and will make great EVs.

    1. Apple Black Glasses Millennial says:

      I would never drive a Chevrolet or GM product. Why? My professional, stylistic and technology cred depend on it. I am a young, tech-forward millennial in San Francisco. I only buy Apple and Crate and Barrel products because Android and Ikea is for poor people and socially unconscious people and technologically retarded people. Apple makes the best technology. So does Tesla. If I were seen in public with an Android phone, the blogosphere would blow up, people would unfriend me, assume I was poor, can’t develop apps, have no marketing skills and couldn’t pay my bar tab. I’d probably get thrown out of NEMA. I’d end up panhandling in front of the Twitter building for somebody to please give me a used iPhone so I could slowly crawl my way back up the cred status ladder of tech world approval. The same would happen in a Chevy. “A chevy? what are you an Android user?” they would say. The struggle is real.

      1. Elizabeth Thelen says:

        Too bad. GM engineering is amazing. You lose.

        1. Rick says:

          So you say one bracket bolted to another bracket is engineering?

      2. WadeTyhon says:

        LOL ‘This has to be a joke. XD Luckily real millenials like myself don’t have as many hang ups as this. 😉

        Also Apple Carplay works great in my Chevrolet Bolt.

        Pour one out for Model S drivers and my wife (who is a future Model 3 owner. ) No Carplay!

        The struggle is real.

        1. Apple Black Glasses Millennial says:

          “real” millennials? REALLY? what am I a cheap chinese plastic knock off of an aluminum bodied space gray millennial?

          FYI “real” millennials don’t wear cases! We are ONE with our technology and environment!

          1. WadeTyhon says:

            “what am I a cheap chinese plastic knock off of an aluminum bodied space gray millennial?”

            Hmmm you seem like more of a cheap plastic Rose Gold knockoff millennial.

            But hey it’s cool man. Keep doing you!

          2. Naw! You were raised by Tech Support from India, wear a Mask to cover your face, and act like ‘Only You’ are special on this planet!
            Ha!
            ;%)

          3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            “what am I a cheap chinese plastic knock off of an aluminum bodied space gray millennial?”

            No, you’re someone whose life is so empty he has nothing better to do than write troll posts.

            Sad.

          4. Windbourne says:

            nah.
            You are just a trump clone.

      3. Michael R says:

        “I only buy Apple and Crate and Barrel products because Android and Ikea is for poor people and socially unconscious people and technologically retarded people.”

        Well, true technologically advanced people don’t buy into this notion that things you own define you in any way, and their notion of status revolves around their accomplishments and not around things they own. Further, if they have their needs met with cheaper things, they do use them and only feel smart for it. (As an aside, they also know that android, being an open platform, is if anything more friendly to a high-tech minded than apple… ). It’s mainly people who are not truly *in* high-tech but *around* high-tech who worry about looking the part…

        Back to cars, I myself never owned a big-three car (due to their reliability reputation, lower mileage, and the impression from rented cars) but would love it if it made sense to buy an American car. So Bolt and Model 3 are high on my list for our next car.

      4. Mark.ca says:

        Apple, don’t worry, when you grow up you will care way less what other people think of you and then you will make better financial decisions. For now just hang in there!

      5. ffbj says:

        Thanks for the insight into what of creepy social pressure. I suppose in that demographic there are high percentage of people who feel that way.
        I don’t think this came into GM’s consideration when they were working on the Bolt, although I hear they did a few focus groups:

        1. pjwood1 says:

          Does Ford help this guy make his videos? The Cruz missing “a good marketing team”? Ford sure has that. What gets spent on marketing, for sure isn’t in your car.

          Pretty funny, otherwise. Someday Millennials will laugh at stuff like this, but those tattoos??

      6. WadeTyhon says:

        @Michael, @Mark, @ffbj

        lol, whoever the guy is he is clearly attempting humor at the expense of millennials or older people’s stereotypes of millennials. Not serious in the slightest.

        If the name “Apple Black Glasses Millennial ” wasn’t enough:

        ““real” millennials? REALLY? what am I a cheap chinese plastic knock off of an aluminum bodied space gray millennial?”

        “If I were seen in public with an Android phone, the blogosphere would blow up, people would unfriend me, assume I was poor, can’t develop apps, have no marketing skills and couldn’t pay my bar tab.”

        “I really hope Martin Shkreli gets into the electric car business. No more peasant cars to spoil our clique!”

        I totally believe this is a real person expressing their real views.

        Totes for reals. 😉

        1. ffbj says:

          I thought he was just using hyperbole. Though I did consider that it might be all a joke. It was funny.

        2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          “…whoever the guy is he is clearly attempting humor…”

          Attempting, yes. Succeeding, no.

      7. Dave86 says:

        Apple Black –

        I became semi-retired at age 45 because I don’t share your attitudes. I ski 50 days a season and do other things because I’m happy with a modest lifestyle.

        Making smart investments is more important than keeping up an ‘image’. Really smart people don’t value an ‘image’ anyway.

      8. Jack says:

        I think you meant nambla.

      9. Larry says:

        Sarcasm much?

      10. TooCoolForSanFrancisco says:

        Love the satire.

      11. Ziv says:

        ABGM, you really ought to put a Sarc/ tag on that post. LOL!

      12. Another Euro point of view says:

        Thank you for the laugh ABGM !

        Your ironic post is probably one of the best analysis of part of the reason why EVs are still so far from achieving mass market penetration so far (being that the profile you sharply describe is (thanks god) such a tiny part of US population (at least I hope for your as last time I was in the US was in the nineties)).

        1. pjwood1 says:

          The post was a joke. The reason most suppliers appreciate the joke, and not the reality, is that people are looking more closely at what’s behind who they do business with. Every disillusion moment extra that it is now taking for manufacturers to release modern compelling electric vehicles, is a moment their base of customers becomes fluid. Almost like “Independent” voters in the U.S. are a needle that swings, conquests such as the Bolt’s 70% coming away from a past with Chevrolet proves it is what’s actually in the car that sells. Sorry, marketing team.

          I can laugh at all this satire, without missing the forest. We can also laugh at the $100,000 powdered-milk train that is about to come from Euro-land (with “a good marketing department”). You can’t package and dismiss moral values in a Millennial bag.

      13. Ryan says:

        Hah, amazing satire. And incisive considering the reactions I’ve gotten from people I known for driving a Chevy. (I work at Google but my wife used to work in marketing at Apple… so…)

        My spin on it is that my Volt was made outside Detroit, which has hipster cred for being the origin of techno music and a centre for electronic music innovation. So I’m part of a cultural renewal in North America’s industrial heartland. 😉

      14. Scott Franco says:

        A couple pages of replies to an obvious troll. Sad.

      15. QCO says:

        I’m not a millennial, nor do I shop at crate and barrel. But I’m unlikely to buy a Chevrolet either.

        The Chevrolet brand image issue is real. GM has spent seventy years intentionally and successfully focusing the Chevrolet brand on the bottom end of the socio-economic scale. That has not changed.

        Regradless of the engineering sophistication, aspirational people are simply not going to buy Chevrolets. GM marketing knows this, which is why they occasionally talk about moving Bolt technology to their higher tier brands.

        As someone above pointed out, people who respond to GM’s intentionally tiered marketing strategies will miss out on the Bolt’s sophisticated engineering. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the reality.

      16. Doug Bostrom says:

        aka Poe, tuned to a fare-thee-well.

    2. Tesla8 says:

      I had a Spark EV and would have drove the Bolt EV if GM made it sooner… but I bought a used Model S for the same price as a Bolt.

  2. Get Real says:

    I and others have said it before, GM has Fantastic and compelling EV engineering but has been held back by, at best, conservative management along with very crappy marketing and too often by hostile dealerships.

    GM’s lack of an electrified SUV despite their class leading Voltec technology shows me how desperate they are to protect their ICE lines by not releasing what would be clearly superior Voltec SUV vehicles (not to mention trucks).

    I predict that they will continue this artificial restriction right up until another company brings a compelling PEV SUV.

    So maybe if Mitsubishi finally brings their long-overdue Outlander PEV then this will pressure GM to make the move.

    1. Bacardi says:

      There should be a Buick Encore vehicle based on the Bolt EV’s powertrain, but it will still fail because it’s a tiny subcompact offered with AWD…The red hot segment is the Equinox/CR-V/Rav4, that’s what they need to bring to market with at least 200 miles range for $39995 with option AWD…

      1. NBA says:

        I’d love an electric Encore. Bolt is ugly, but I might buy one next year when Spark lease is up.

        1. Dave86 says:

          A 300 mi AWD Encore with 100kw (minimum) supercharger capability would be the ticket.

          Until then, I’ll be another one of those new to the GM brand when I lease a Bolt later this fall. From reading various message boards, GM’s quality of their EVs & EREVs has been really good.

          I agree with other comments that GM has been dragging their feet. The entire auto industry for that matter has been slow to respond. That said, GM should have originally put Voltec in an AWD CUV.

        2. L'amata says:

          I’d go the New Leaf Hands down , Unlike a cramped up Bolt it’s wider & longer than the Bolt & looks 1000 times better than the Bolt . Being a Nissan It’s built 100 times better. Leaf is Roomier & Wider than Bolt & will drive way better too..

          1. Asak says:

            The Leaf drives worse than the Bolt or Volt. It’s still decent acceleration from a stop, but after about 30 mph it runs out of steam. The Bolt has a lot more power and acceleration, and certainly more range.

            Also, are you seriously trying to suggest Nissan has better quality than Chevy? First of all, I’m not sure it’s even true in general. But when comparing the Leaf with no active battery management to the Bolt which does have it, it’s not even remotely true.

            I have no doubt a Chevy Bolt bought today will still be on the road in ten years, with pretty decent range. I can’t say the same about the new Nissan Leaf where the battery could very well be down to 50% capacity by then.

            1. Scott Franco says:

              Yes, yes, and yes.

        3. Dav8or says:

          Might as well lease a Bolt. You already leased the Spark EV and it is tragically styled. The Bolt is a huge improvement over the Spark.

          1. NBA says:

            Completely disagree. I love my Spark’s style and think the Bolt is almost as ugly as a Prius. But I’m stuck having to get a Bolt because it’s the best value.

          2. Scott Franco says:

            The Spark is a great car and it is really too bad GM is discontinuing it. Its a small, short range car with the ability to add fast charging, and that makes it unique (neither Smart nor Fiat have fast charging).

            If GM used new battery tech to cost reduce the car and come up with the first sub $20k BEV, the car would be a runwaway winner.

            I leased a spark after the Fiat dealer gave me the runaround. It looks good next to my Bolt, and suits my wife’s needs well.

            1. SparkEV says:

              Having more SparkEV sales will eat into incentive that higher priced Bolt would garner more profit. When (if?) EV incentive is removed, there will be sub $20K EV eventually, though it’d doubtful any will be as quick (acceleration and charging C rate) as SparkEV.

        4. Ziv says:

          NBA, if you look at the Bolt and the Encore side by side, you realize they share a lot of common lines. But the Encore is cute and the Bolt is not.

      2. pjwood1 says:

        GM knows many existing customers would rush for an Equinox, powered by the Bolt’s drive train. That’s exactly why they won’t do it. With 70% coming from non-GM vehicles, you’d think they might try, though.

        1. lewl says:

          That’s why it’s short sighted/narrow minded to think offering voltec SUV would hurt their other sales.
          If anything, it would INCREASE them.
          For starters, by offering the product, that customer bought from you and didn’t go to the theoretical competitor’s PHEV SUV/CUV.
          So stopping there, you would have lost the sale anyway. Why not sell the voltec version for slightly less profit? Slightly less profit is infinitely more than no profit.

          Then continuing from there, imagine if they took even 10% of the CRV and RAV4 buyers by offering this product. They would have otherwise never looked at GM (because Toyota and Honda buyers are traditionally extremely biased to their brand and against everything else).
          That conquest alone would more than make up for any perceived reduction in profit by shifting to voltec instead of traditional automatic transmissions.

          1. NBA says:

            The point is GM has a long history of cutting it’s nose off to spite it’s face. Conversely, it’s got a long history of cannibalizing it’s own sales through badge engineering.

            Maybe their reticence to Encore EV is their blind, singular advertising push behind ONE vehicle.

            They just don’t seem to know how to distribute their EV tech amongst different cars like Toyota.

            ELR failed because without level 3, who’s going to sit there on a level 2 plug at Whole Foods for 4 hours JUST to get EV power? Might as well get a Tesla.

          2. theflew says:

            This sounds good on paper/the web, but how many of those people are willing to pay $7k more to have voltec equinox?

            1. NBA says:

              $3-4,000 extra not $7,000. Equinox too big/expensive. Trax/Encore is right size/price. Better packaging and body for accommodating batteries than Bolt/Cruze/Sonic.

              1. BenG says:

                Battery pack alone is going to run you ~$3,000. Add electric motor, controller and other electronics you are probably at $6,000 in additional cost, which GM then needs to mark up for some profit. So $7,000 price differential for a Voltec equipped Encore is probably about the minimum you’d see, and I actually expect $10,000 is more like it, which is roughly the difference between a Volt and a Cruze after federal incentives are taken off.

                So it’s a good question: will people pay $10k for an Encore with a Voltec system, considering you’re also going to sacrifice some significant interior space?

                I think it’d be a great car, but I think for it to be a real success GM needs to completely redesign the Voltec architecture to put the batteries into the floor, a la Tesla (and also, if I recall correctly, the original Volt concept car). Passenger and cargo room cannot be so compromised as in the Volt and deliver mainstream success.

        2. Ryan says:

          GM won’t do it because they can’t, not because of some conspiracy. There isn’t the battery supply available at this time. That’s almost assuredly the reason they keep the production levels of Volts and Bolts relatively limited.

          And of course the margins are lower on battery vehicles.

          Once LG Chem ramps up domestic production at their plant in Michigan and can provide them with enough batteries, I am pretty sure you’ll see an Equinox-type vehicle as either a PHEV or a BEV.

    2. ffbj says:

      It costs a lot of money to do all that, though in long run that may happen. Atm I think they a bit of a quandary. Like how many models will be axed, resulting in how many jobs are lost, which can knock on effects. All the lawsuits, of every ilk and fashion.
      It’s like Gulliver tied down by the Lilliputians.

    3. Spider-Dan says:

      It’s funny how everybody keeps assuming that GM is intentionally tanking by not releasing an affordable AWD PHEV SUV. As opposed to the mountain of them coming from everyone else.

      Maybe GM should just say that they’re going to bring one out and then keep pushing back the release date for the next 7 years? That seems like the preferred strategy for PHEV SUVs in America.

  3. Bacardi says:

    Not surprising results at all however the one stat that’s missing: “Is there another ICE vehicle in your household?” I’d take a Vegas bet over half of the Bolt sales are for the HOV lane access for their commute and an another ICE in the household is used for long trips…

    1. John says:

      Bacardi, how about this stat:

      How many Bolt owners who originally bought their car simply for the HOV sticker now would purchase nothing but an electric going forward?

    2. WadeTyhon says:

      Why buy an expensive car like the Bolt just for HOA lane access? Buy a used EV or a cheaper PHEV! 🙂

      But even if they do get a Bolt, if they’re still using the EV for most of their driving then it works out well.

      1. menorman says:

        Yep, if HOV access is what you seek, Fiat will pay you to get into a 500e.

    3. Asak says:

      That’s true of most everyone who owns an EV. I suspect it’s the same for Tesla owners as well. That being said, unless you’re taking long trips all the time it’s more economical to simply rent a car. It really doesn’t cost that much to do it.

      1. NBA says:

        This is like AMEX cards people get “JUST” for lounge access. But who *really* has time to get to the airport early enough to use them?

        HOV is about humble brag status that you *might* use. I never do and I have it.

      2. Aw..Heck! I have even rented a ICE car for a Long Trip, even though I still primarily drive an ICE, just to not put miles on my own car, to have a newer one for the trip, or for lack of concerns for repairs while away from home!

        Renting a car is not so hard, even when not flying somewhere!

  4. bjrosen says:

    70% of Bolt buyers are new to Chevy, why hasn’t that gotten the attention of GM executives? GM isn’t bothering to market the Bolt or the Volt at all, they’ve never run a single commercial, at least not outside of California, don’t know if they’ve ever run an ad there. They have a once in a century opportunity to grab new customers but that window will close in less than two years when the other manufacturers start to sell credible EVs. As of today the Bolt has a single competitor, the Model 3, but unlike the Model 3 you can actually buy a Bolt. The Volt has no competition at all, it’s the only EREV that has both unusable EV range, 53 miles vs 25 for a Prius, and a uncompromised range extender, a 4 cylinder engine with a 9 gallon tank vs a 3 cylinder engine with a 2 gallon tank in the i3 REX.

    Count me as a non-Chevy customer who came back because of the Volt. My last Chevy was a 1980 Citation, a car so awful that I never walked back into a Chevy showroom until last year, after the Citation I never expected to buy another GM product in my lifetime. However when I saw the Volt and test drove it I was hooked. The other car on my shortlist was an Audi, not one of Chevy’s direct competitors but a much higher end car. The Volt won easily because it was clearly the car of the future vs an admittedly highly refined car of the past.

    That’s how they should market their EVs, market the Bolt and the Volt together as the cars of the future. Don’t sell them as green or fuel efficient, that’s a nice bonus but it doesn’t sell cars, market them as cars of the future, better cars. Both cars are peppy, absolutely quiet when running electrically, smooth as silk because they don’t have transmissions that are jerking between gears. You plug them in at home so you always have all of their range, or all of their EV range in the case of the Volt, when you wake up in the morning. You hardly ever need a brake job because regenerative braking simply recoups lost energy rather than burning up brake pads. The Bolt never needs an oil change, the Volt can go two years between oil changes if you run mostly electric as many people do.

    1. menorman says:

      They’ve run ads in major newspaper nationwide, which was even reported on here. However, others have suggested something which I’m inclined to agree with: GM is focusing more on 21st Century marketing which is more viral-based. The recent autocross event where they dragged journalists out to drive the Bolt against a GTI is a great example. The next day, everyone had an article about how the Bolt was able to keep up with the GTI on their website, which almost certainly would reach at least as many people as an ad on TV (which people are increasingly not watching anymore). In that regard, GM is on target.

    2. Tom says:

      You’ll notice in the other thread Nissan is doing exactly as you suggest. They are dropping the ‘save the world’ argument for ‘this car rocks and is the future’ version of marketing. A small page of Tesla’s playbook. Some careful rebranding along with a tweak in style would go a long way. Oh and of course new dealers…ugggh I hate my GM dealer. The sales guy had never heard of a Bolt when asked. ‘We had two of those a couple years ago and never could get rid of them…had to do dealer trades to dump them’. Obviously he thought I meant Volt which of course they also don’t sell.

    3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      bjrosen asked:

      “70% of Bolt buyers are new to Chevy, why hasn’t that gotten the attention of GM executives?”

      There’s a basic fallacy in this article; the assumption that GM didn’t fully intend to attract new — or more precisely, different — Chevy buyers with the Bolt EV.

      On the contrary, industry watchers have noted that with the Volt and the Bolt EV, GM has made EVs for market segments outside their usual line of cars, so it wouldn’t compete with its more profitable gasmobiles.

      The quote below is a few years old by now, but I think it’s still mostly true:

      “Until we see Audi, Mercedes, VW, Toyota, GM, Ford deliver a BEV that similarly dusts their own top-of-line ICE product in performance AND value for money, there will be no effective BEV competition for Tesla. And this isn’t going to happen for a LONG time, not for technical reasons, but because ICE carmakers cannot remain viable companies if they start killing off their highest margin products. The ICE carmakers will put batteries into version of their products for the customers who ask for ‘the electric one’. They will build low-end, compliance BEVs to earn the ZEV credits they need without cannibalizing their high-end ICEs. They will build hybrids and PHEVs to get their CAFE and CO2 g/km numbers. But they aren’t going to deliberately kill off their top profit making products just to compete with Tesla — at least not until Tesla gets a whole lot bigger than they are now.” — Randy Carlson

    4. Scott Franco says:

      I see bolt ads everywhere on the internet, so I have no idea what the hell you are talking about.

  5. Rich says:

    So the stats reflect what we already knew. Any brand that sells a nice EV offering nationwide will make gains over brands that don’t.

    It’s sad that all the automakers are saying they don’t make as much money on EVs as ICE. I doubt GM factored in “70% of Bolt buyers are new to the Chevrolet brand”. This is OMG massive! Can anyone name one positive thing that could be done to cause a 70% shift in brand loyalty? Even with a lower profit margin per unit, a respectable increase in market share should more than make up for it. IMO, this stat justifies immediately increasing Bolt production 2x to 3x and flooding the market. In addition, GM must pass the full tax credit to the customer through a Cap Cost reduction on leases. GM has an amazing short term opportunity, I hope they don’t throw it away.

    1. Tom says:

      That level of conquest sales is amazing.

      1. Kdawg says:

        Same thing happened when the Volt was introduced. I believe the #1 traded in car was the Prius.

        1. Larry says:

          My experience, exactly. Also, the first GM car I have ever owned (Volt).

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Rich said:

      “It’s sad that all the automakers are saying they don’t make as much money on EVs as ICE… Even with a lower profit margin per unit, a respectable increase in market share should more than make up for it.”

      I don’t believe this is true. I don’t think GM is evil; I don’t think it’s refusing to put EVs into production even if that would make them more money.

      Yes, any manufacturer can make more total profit by lowering the profit margin a bit, if it makes up for that with a greater increase in volume.

      The question is just how much narrower the profit margin is with BEVs and PHEVs. If it’s razor-thin or nonexistent, then it doesn’t help much even if 100% of sales are “conquest sales”. The most important thing a business needs to do, the thing it must do to be able to do anything else, is to make sufficient profit to stay in business! If GM were to devote much or most of its capital expenditures to building cars with razor-thin profit margins, then it would go bankrupt yet again.

      No manufacturer has unlimited resources. Every car that GM puts into production takes trained workers and supervisors to produce it, and it occupies a certain segment of a production line’s annual time. An auto manufacturer simply can’t afford to make a high volume of cars that aren’t profitable. Auto makers do have to make a certain number of “compliance cars” which are not, but they limit the number they make to minimize the resources those drain away. Pumping more resources into a car model which makes little or no profit, simply makes no sense. Those resources would be far better put into one of GM’s better selling cars. GM could drop the price slightly to generate more sales, and wind up with considerably more profit than they would if they ramped up production of a narrow profit margin car such as a BEV or a PHEV.

      1. Rich says:

        “If it’s razor-thin or nonexistent, then it doesn’t help much even if 100% of sales are “conquest sales”.”

        I disagree. We’re not talking about 10 million cars a year. We’re talking about 50K. With 70% of purchasers new to the brand, that means GM is only looking at a “loss of profit” on 30% or 15K cars a year. This means the CPA of 35K new customers is equal to the loss of profit on the 15K cars. This could be one hell of a deal!
        That short term loss of profit must be weighed against the projected retention percentage x LTV of new customers. Obviously it’s more complex than this, but for a high level discussion this will do.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          You make a good argument. Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

          Perhaps if I understand GM’s finances better, I’d agree with you. Obviously there’s a real question of how many of those first-time Chevy buyers will go on to buy another Chevy. I’ll argue that most of them are buying a Bolt EV because it’s a PEV, not because it’s a Chevy. And I would guess not many of those are going to develop a brand loyalty to Chevrolet. In fact, we’ve already seen people say in InsideEVs comments that they’re only getting a short-term Bolt EV lease as an interim while waiting for the Tesla Model 3 to be available. Of course, I have no idea what percentage of Bolt EV “buyers” those lessees represent, but it must be more than just a few.

          But that’s just my guess; I’m willing to be convinced I’m wrong.

  6. Elizabeth Thelen says:

    GM Engineering is phenomenal. Electric cars are engineered by finest, many of whom are female. I love GM. I retired 6 years ago.

  7. David Riley says:

    The quote from Ward Auto leading the article referred to PHEV deliveries. It appears that the quote and the article meant both PHEV and BEV.
    Similar to bjrosen, I was not a Chevy customer. The Volt changed that. The engineering on the Voltec powertrain is first-rate, a model of superior planning and execution for other OEMs to follow.

  8. Warren says:

    First GM car, first electric car. Also our last car. It doesn’t get any sweeter than that. 🙂

  9. menorman says:

    I see a drop in MSRP by time MY2019 rolls around.

    1. pjwood1 says:

      But at least Bolt owners won’t see what I3 owners saw, when big successive range jumps made their cars lose a lot of value. Tesla demonstrates >200 miles is about what it takes before range doesn’t have to be such a big issue.

  10. ffbj says:

    Atm I think the Bolt wins with what’s available, unless you want to wait a year, or if on the list 6-12 months for the 3, which I think will be much better.

    I think the Bolt sales will continue to disappoint for a number of reasons.
    1. As PUPM has said a number of times, the majority of dealerships are disinclined to sell it. While there are probably a number that are gung-ho they are the exception not the rule.
    2. GM does not want to sell that many. It’s not a big money maker. No hurry. It’s a decent car an it will sell, just not in great numbers. Which they never planned for it in the first place.
    3. On the consumer side you have views such as expressed by the Millenial dude above. He would not be caught dead in one.
    It’s just not very appealing visually.
    4. It just won’t hold a candle to the versatility, performance, and ride of the Model 3, though I prefer it too the 2018 Leaf, except for looks.
    5. Only about 40% of Chevy dealerships will actually sell and service the Bolt. So Chevy’s, easy to get it serviced, is dependent on your dealership.

    You can’t just take it anywhere. This also matters since you can only charge it at those particular dealerships and only during business hours, and at other public chargers. I suppose it depends on your area.
    Don’t depend on GM though in this regard.
    A pale comparison to the sc network you get through Tesla. Mostly you will charge it, the Bolt, at home.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      “Disinclined to sell it (BOLT)”

      Well come to NY State. All the dealers by me who carry the BOLT have 30 copies of each. I’m sure they’d just love to ‘move the Tin’.

      They obviously can’t get rid of the car. (Gasoline is just too cheap lately). It is nonsensical to think they don’t want to sell them. And there are plenty of ‘loaded’ models, as well as cars with ZERO options – so that frugal buyers won’t be turned off by the price. As well as dealer installed options and 240 volt home docking station installations, for those who want Turn-Key solutions. Fast charging or Not. The literature shows how low mileage drivers can get along with just the 110 volt cord that comes with the car, although higher mileage drives might like to get an L2 or L3 arrangement.

      Seems to me, GM at least is laying it on the line for what a typical new EV buyer can expect and is defacto educating the uninitiated as to what is required, but not forcing them to spend their hard-earned money on things they might not want or need. I couldn’t expect them to do more.

      1. BenG says:

        I think we’re seeing evidence that the market for the Bolt at $37,000 is limited, and that to move metal customers need a significant discount. No surprise as that retail number is shockingly high for a small Chevy.

        From what I’m reading it seems that $3-$5k discount is widely available, and I’d expect at the upper end a $5k discount should be enough to motivate some buyers. I wonder how much off retail your local dealers are willing to go at this point?

        Also, of course the attractiveness of the federal tax credit increases as we approach year end, as people clarify if they can use or ‘need’ the tax credit on their 2017 taxes, and also they can look forward to getting the money back in a shorter time frame.

        End-of-year discounting combined with end-of-year tax credit should provide a big boost in Bolt sales in the coming months.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “On the consumer side you have views such as expressed by the Millenial dude above.”

      “Oh Come, sir, I think you picked a poor example.” — Col. Pickering, My Fair Lady, lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner

  11. Bill Howland says:

    There’s much to like about ‘the new GM’. Buyers apparently see the value in a new BOLT ev – what with its 70% conquest rate (by any yardstick a huge success).

    What is not immediately apparent is how GOOD a vehicle you are getting…. I was initially disturbed at a Locking Center screen, but then found this was just a quickly fit connector at the factory – taking it to a dealership to have them open up the connections and carefully close them has apparently fixed the trouble since it hasn’t locked once in the 2 months since I’ve been there.

    But the value is there – For instance, the air conditioning/ refrigeration system now has effectively an 8 year/100,000 mile warranty on it since its operation is vital to the electronics operations – the car cannot function properly in a hot climate without it.

    The hermetically sealed compressor is intrinsically leak-free, since there are no problems with leaking refrigerant out of the power shaft seal as was a notorious problem with old GM Ice only cars.

    My personal favorite is the HUGE, Beefy gearbox you get with the car… Besides having a HUGE (compared to VW, or Nissan) 200 horsepower motor, they have a HUGE double-reduction helical gearset to reliably deliver the power.

    And the thing is QUIET. While there is inverter whine from the motor at lower speeds, everything quiets right down at high speeds and you never hear ANYTHING that suggests that the power unit is being overly stressed… No murmuring gearboxes here.

    This is the kind of thing that will keep buyers in the GM family. A good reliable car that is BETTER that GM ever claimed it was. While initially advertising that the BOLT ev will be ‘over 200 miles’ with a 60 kwh battery, as far as I’m concerned, the way that other companies rate their batteries – the thing in the BOLT ev is essentially a 65 kwh unit. Plus it will go 300 miles plus without really trying. Just got back from a drive electric event in Ithaca, and went from Niagara Falls and back – 315 1/2 miles with only 15 miles of charging, and per the car – 18 miles of range left at the end of the trip. For a low priced EV competitive in price with others, to go this far is amazing.

    The Brouchure we handed out at the Drive Electric event showed several German makes and models with PHEV electric ranges of all 14, or 15 miles… That’s it!. BEV’s with 60 or 65 miles range (think Mercedes’ SMART).

    A volt, when talking to actual owners of the new model – doesn’t go 53 as claimed, but more like 70 – I’ve had several people state that figure who don’t know each other.

    GM makes cars that seem to be quite reliable, require only small amounts of regular preventative maintenance (Oil changes every other year, Cooling and Brake fluid changes only every 5 years, tire rotates every 7500 miles).

    Others will, as far as the BOLT ev is concerned – dismiss the car as either Dorky, or a Soccer-Mom’s car – I suppose those are legitimate complaints. But the car is a Practical EV – plus the VOLT is just fine for one car families as being a nice electric car in town, and using its ‘Ultra Charger’ for quick refueling when on vacation.

    1. Scott Franco says:

      Nice overview. Glad you fixed your screen lockups. However, the lockups also occur because the software crashes, I have seen it do it at least a dozen times.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Bill, I’m glad you’re enjoying your Bolt EV.

      Did you trade in the Caddy ELR, or do you have two PEVs now?

      1. Bill Howland says:

        Scott Franco: My car (even though purchased last February) had the latest software, so no crashes for me due to this reason. Thanks for the complement.

        Pupu: 35,000 miles on the ELR, and putting about 25,000 miles/year on the BOLT. Use my old Square-D (Schneider) wall box (modified to work with the Roadster) to charge the BOLT, since it is 30 amps. Bought a DuoSida ‘heavy duty’ 16 amp 220 volt charger cord (ELR can only go at a 15 amp rate), so I can quickly charge both cars at essentially their maximum rates at the same time. For $200.00

        The prices some companies (Including ALL the name brands) charge for wall boxes, or charging cords is criminal. You can get perfectly fine stuff on Ebay or Amazon for a LOT less money.

  12. Dan S says:

    The argument about Chevrolet dealers not selling the Bolt/Volt are misleading because in my metro area the 5 chevy dealers that are selling EV’S outnumber every other brand. They need more ev buyers

  13. Mark says:

    You would think an article about the potential impact of dwindling incentives on sales would actually describe how the federal tax credit would phase down. After these automakers hit the 200,000 credits threshold, the credit will decrease by half in the following 1st and 2nd quarters and by half again in the 3rd and 4th quarters before disappearing altogether.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      I, too, am disappointed the article didn’t really go into the subject of its title. I think that would have made a more interesting article.

    2. BenG says:

      Not quite right Mark. To be precise, the federal tax credit phases out as follows:

      Full credit available for the quarter that the manufacturer hits 200,000 sales (Q1) and for the following quarter (Q2).

      1/2 credit available for the following two quarters (Q3-4).

      1/4 credit available for the following two quarters (Q5-6).

      So, if GM sells about another 23,000 plug-in cars this year, then about another 23,000 in the first half of 2018, then they might aim to engineer sales so that they sell their 200,000th plug-in early July 2018.

      They would then get full $7500 credit through 2018. 1/2 credit the first half of 2019, 1/4 credit second half of 2019, and zero credit starting in 2020.

      1. Larry4pyro says:

        So if GM has some more plugins to sell, they should bring them to market by the first quarter in which they hit the 200,000 mark since they all can qualify for the full $7500 tax credit.

        Based on this I predict GM will announce a lot of new plugin cars, SUVs, trucks and high performance vehicles in 2018 for the 2019 model year.

  14. unlucky says:

    Well clearly.

    They didn’t make a second generation (for them) longer-range EV just to stop making it in a year.

    It’s going to be rough to get through the loss of the subsidy but it simply has to be done.

    It’ll be interesting to see what Congress thinks when the government is still handing out $7500 to Hyundai buyers but not GM and Tesla (American makes and American made, even if a lot of the Bolt parts are imported).

  15. Leafowner says:

    100% chance Tesla is the first to 200,000. 500k reservations don’t lie….if GM had a chance, it was prior to the Model 3 release.

  16. bro1999 says:

    The good thing is GM can see how Tesla handles the tax credit phase out first (since they SURELY will sell 10’s of thousands of Model 3’s soon, right?) before deciding on how they themselves will handle the credit loss.

    1. pjwood1 says:

      The tax-credit was designed for the Volt. At less than 16KWh, the $7,500 credit begins to shrink. So, it’s tough to argue GM didn’t have a stake in how the credit was “handled”, but like Scott gets at with “GM has executed”, you have to ask “executed what?”. Did they have a long-dated strategy, as a juggernaut of sales volume, to be beaten to the phase-out by a luxury upstart? Is that “executing” well?

      Tesla is clearly playing the tax-credit to the hilt. #200k just after 1/1/18 will give them a full year of **unlimited** sales that benefit from 7,500 credits (1H 2018) and $3,750 credits (2H 2018). Possibly another 200k+ cars, passed the first batch. Will GM try to maximize its post-200K volume, in the quarters that dictate the phase out? Jay knows better, if ’18, or ’19, will be GM’s year, but “executed pretty well” to me means they have a product and much bigger volume they expect to move in the post-12 month window of time beyond #200k.

      Do they have this plan, or a product coming online that maximizes the tax-credit value?

      I give GM credit, for not squandering most their credits on 5-10KWh cars, where owners can only claim $3k, or 4k. Global strategies (“because we have an autobahn”) seem really arrogant, in contrast. If you tell the customer FU, in a number of ways, they might just leave for what better suits them. I digress.

      1. BenG says:

        It will be tough for Tesla to hit 200,000 just after 1/1/2018, but maybe they can do it. Musk is aiming for a production rate of 5,000 Model 3 per week by the end of 2017, but only 1,500 produced through quarter 3.

        They’re at 132,000 now. Might expect to sell 25-30,000 Model S and X in the rest of the year. Optimistically might sell 10,000 Model 3 this year … that still leaves them about 30,000 short of 200,000 at year end, which would likely take at least a month or more to deliver.

        Tesla might have a more achievable goal of hitting 200,000 sales shortly after the start of Q2 2018, April 1. They can probably continue to ramp production as fast as they can, but manage inventory and international deliveries so that the magic number of US sales occurs day 1 of Q2.

      2. BenG says:

        GM, at the rate they are going, might aim to hit 200,000 early in Q3 2018. I don’t know if they have any plans to max out sales as the credit is phasing out, certainly seems like they have no plans for an all-out market assault like Tesla is doing with the Model 3, but maybe they’ll surprise me.

      3. bro1999 says:

        “The tax-credit was designed for the Volt.”

        Pretty sure you have that backwards. The Volt was released AFTER the tax credit was created. The Volt was designed to maximize the tax credit for consumers.

    2. (⌐■_■) Trollnonymous says:

      Tesla will game the system.
      As soon as they hit the mark where they can sell oooodles of them, they will deliver oodles of them. But I expect only half of what their list is.
      It wouldn’t surprise me if they stockpile a bunch of M3’s then flood the market with them when the time is right to sell the ooodles of them.

      Highly technical post…..lol
      😛

  17. Scott Franco says:

    It seems like it would kill a lot of you to admit:

    GM has executed pretty well here.

  18. PT says:

    I identify with the stats and sentiments quoted in the article…

    Had been a loyal Honda customer for years in my 20s and 30s but now enjoy my Bolt (lease). Over the last 3 years I’ve had the Ford Energi and VW e-Golf and the Bolt is generally a better product. e-Golf was more fun to drive (below 45MPH) but had limited range and interface for charging setup and other things were unreliable. Ford hasn’t done anything good in the EV line for years.

    Considered the Ioniq EV but limited availability and can’t wait for the LEAF so two weeks ago I leased my 2nd Bolt!

    That being said, I do have Tesla envy now and then because I think it’s a prestige product and looks better (to me). But at the end of the day, I don’t have range anxiety, have reasonably low payments, get to drive in the HOV lane and don’t pay for fuel since I have solar that’s been paid off.

  19. Matula says:

    If they believe in EVs…. Why here in Canada, people need to wait more than 8 months to get one? In same time, in US, dealers are waiting for costumers.

    If you believe in EVs GM, Canadian consumers are just waiting for you? In BC, Manitoba, Quebec, we produce more than 95% of our electricity with Hydro.

    Tesla is looking right now with Quebec gouv. to increase subsidies and help people to get the model 3.

    Where are you?

  20. ffbj says:

    I test drove a Bolt. Very nice ride it’s good, pickup is fine. Quiet and very smooth. I drove the tricked out one with all the cameras, the way to go imo, the premier.
    I could really see it for me, as it would fit all my needs. I have home charging.

    I asked about DCFC. That’s the only kind of Bolt they have in stock plus they recommend it. He said due to how badly it hurts the resale if it does not have it. Still should have been standard.
    The salesman was knowledgeable and pleasant and has sold 18 Bolts, while their dealership has sold 30, just since they were allowed to.
    They had 8 or so on the lot. About 5 weeks to get one on order. So all in all it was real good.
    I would give it a solid B.

    1. WadeTyhon says:

      I’m very glad to hear you had a good experience. The car is just all around fantastic. We are taking our second road trip in the Bolt next month from Dallas to Austin.

      Also as you saw, many dealers and salespeople are starting to get it… because unlike when the Volt launched: the tech is proven, the range is excellent, and the margins are good enough where a salesperson is making a larger comission.

      The dealer I bought from has had a similarly strong response to the vehicle. They’ve already sold dozens and refill their stock regularly but they can’t keep the premiers in stock more than a few days.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      ffbj said:

      “I asked about DCFC. That’s the only kind of Bolt they have in stock plus they recommend it. He said due to how badly it hurts the resale if it does not have it.”

      That’s exactly what I predicted; that the lack would significantly impact, and lower, the resale value. Nice to see that at least one Chevy dealer (who presumably knows his market better than I do) agrees with me.

      So if most of the Bolt EVs which GM is shipping has that option, then I think that’s a very good thing.

      1. MTN Ranger says:

        Lack of DCFC is being reflected in pricing. There are three Bolt EVs at a Northern VA dealer that have $6000+ discounts on them right now.

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