GM Earmarks 5,000 Chevrolet Bolt EVs For South Korea This Year

4 weeks ago by Eric Loveday 83

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Last year, just 600 Chevy Bolt EVs were set aside for South Korea. This year, that figure will jump significantly.

The Chevy Bolt EV

General Motors says it’s allotting 5,000 Bolt EVs for South Korea in 2018. While this may still be short of satisfying local demand, it’s still vastly more than South Koreans were expecting.

Korea’s Yonhap News reports:

“The upgraded Chevrolet Bolt EV can travel 383 kilometers on one charge of a 60 kilowatt-per-hour battery and will be sold for 27-28 million won (US$25,000-$26,000), since the government offers at least 12 million won in subsidies, a GM Korea spokesman said.”

“The all-electric Bolt carries a price tag between 45.58 million won and 47.79 million won depending on features if state subsidies are not included, the company said in a statement.”

GM is looking to capture the lead in the still-young South Korean EV market. However, local homegrown automakers such as Hyunda and Kia are racing to get to the front too.

Yonhap adds:

“On Monday, GM Korea began to accept pre-orders for the Bolt EV from local customers, with deliveries scheduled to be made from April.”

Last year, the first Bolt allotment for South Korea sold out in a matter of hours. This year, with the increased allotted figure, it should take quite a bit longer to sell out.

Source: Yonhap

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83 responses to "GM Earmarks 5,000 Chevrolet Bolt EVs For South Korea This Year"

  1. Gasbag says:

    Are they increasing production or do they anticipate decreasing demand in the US due to improved competitor offerings?

    1. G2 says:

      The former, is my guess.

    2. WadeTyhon says:

      I think increased production for sure. That 5,000 is a bit more than the number of Bolts GM sold last year across all international markets (Canada, Europe, S Korea and Mexico). I’ll bet Canadian allocations are higher this year also.

      Bolt sales in the US should remain the same or improve. Other than the Model 3, there aren’t many other vehicles to compete with the Bolt. And those two cars appeal to different customers.

      The Leaf is probably the Bolt’s closest competitor, but I think a lot of folks will wait for the 200+ mile version.

      1. Kyle says:

        Hyundai KONA EV and Kia NIRO EV both will directly compete with the Chevy BOLT. 242 Miles of range using a 64KW battery. 150KW motor for the same price.

        1. WadeTyhon says:

          In the US?

          Those will only really compete if Kia/Hyundai actually sells more than 100-200 a month here. And I hope they do! But so far they always disappoint me in sales.

          So far the Ioniq Electric, Soul EV and their PHEVs are not living up to their sales potential in the US.

        2. JustWilliamPDX says:

          Do we know the release date for any of those vehicles, or in which states they will be available? They may vary well be comparable, but when and where? I personally doubt the 2018 sales figures for any of them will come anywhere close to what the Bolt logs.

      2. Quebec 100% EV says:

        Here in Canada approximately 2500 Bolts were sold in 2017.

        I anticipate that GM will allocate more to us as well for 2018 due to the current 14K EV rebate in Ontario and due to Quebec’s new ZEV mandate combined with its 8K EV rebate.

    3. JyChevyVolt says:

      Looks like, they are shifting Opel Ampera-e to Korea.

    4. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      I certainly hope it indicates increased production, but I thought I had read that GM isn’t going to increase production this 2nd year?

      Anyway, this certainly is a positive sign. Here’s hoping GM ships more units to Canada, too!

      1. Quebec 100% EV says:

        In Canada approximately 2500 Bolts were sold in 2017.

        I anticipate that GM will allocate more to us as well for 2018 due to the current 14K EV rebate in Ontario and due to Quebec’s new ZEV mandate combined with its 8K EV rebate.

    5. przemo_li says:

      EU would be but no more sales.

      Production will be higher. Bolt sells well, GM have underutilized production lines and freedom to decrease other models production quotas.

      Only question is:
      Did LG/GM increased production BEFORE bolt debut? All those new factories take time, so decision post Bolt debut wont increase production in 2018.

  2. Someone out there says:

    I wonder how many they intend to produce this year. At least 50k I would hope.

    1. God/Bacardi says:

      Produce now, offer crazy incentives to liquidate them later!

    2. scottf200 says:

      I think they will produce according to demand which is also relative to the competition this year (LEAF 2 and Tesla Model 3 as two biggees). 30K max I’d guess.

      1. Mikael says:

        They will not produce remotely close to demand. They could probably sell a couple hundred thousand of it.

        But they will probably produce what they need for compliance in the US and some to get some green cred outside of the US.

    3. menorman says:

      I agree, and it could easily be 75k if they had a RHD variant for those markets. It would sell like crazy in Ireland and Australia. Plus Caribbean islands like Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, and RHD African countries.

      1. wavelet says:

        Since GM completely abandoned Europe, the UK/Ireland is irrelevant. All the islands you mentioned are tiny and irrelevant markets, as are India & South Africa since the car is far too expensive there. Japan is no-go since the Japanese don’t buy non-Japanese non-luxury cars.
        That leaves Australia, NZ, HK and Singapore — I suspect that’s not enough overall. Probably in 2-3 years.

      2. Recoil says:

        You guys kill me. 75k 50k There is no pent up demand in the U.S. for them and we are by far the largest buyers of EV’s in the whole world. They had to shutter the plant an additional 2 weeks on top of the 6 weeks to try and let the inventory catch up with demand. Europe is out so the second largest buyers are not buying. That leaves china as the third largest buyers and GM isn’t sending any over there. The others are very small compared to what the U.S. buys so if there is no pent up demand here as there are plenty sitting on dealers lots even with a 5k reductions in price. With the leaf and the Tesla coming out in full force next year you will see the bolt start to decline in sales not increase.

        1. John M says:

          How exactly is China buying less EVs than the US?

    4. przemo_li says:

      That would be 60% increase in battery pack supply, and to do that LG/GM would have to take that risk BEFORE Bolt debut.

      They may have done just that.

      Otherwise 60% increase is pipe dream.

  3. William says:

    You would hope that Hyundai and Kia would start to ramp up some equivalent EV market penetration numbers at home, in keeping up with this latest SK GM Bolt rollout. This should get interesting, as GM is showing its SK EV commitment.

    1. menorman says:

      Hyundai has been devoting about half of Ioniq EV production to the home market, which is a little under 1000/month, and finished 2017 with nearly double the sales of what GM plans for the Bolt for this year.

      1. William says:

        10 K Ionic EVs sold in SK in 2017 is good. I was mistaken thinking they were rolling out production much more slowly for the 2017 SK market.

        1. William says:

          Probably around 7.5K Ionic EVs sold in SK in 2017 ( all 12 months ).
          Outsold the Bolt handily, at a ratio of well over 100 to 1.

          http://ev-sales.blogspot.com/2017/11/south-korea-october-2017-draft.html?m=1

  4. Mike says:

    Maybe GM’s slogan for EVs should be “We never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”. Not being able to deliver a car where there is significant demand and you spend essentially 0$ on marketing it is sad (and this is coming from someone who owns two Volts).

    1. Jacked Beanstalk says:

      I suspect they’re waiting until battery cell prices drop enough to make EVs more profitable.

      The Volt and even the Bolt strike me as test cars. Sell them in small quantities to a niche market and learn how to make them reliable and what drivetrain characteristics work best in the wild.

      In a year or two the testing ends and real EV production begins.

      Alternate hypothesis: GM may be waiting for CCS charging infrastructure to grow. That seems rather stupid since they seem so resistant to investing in CCS infrastructure.

      1. Ryan says:

        Yep. And battery supplies generally. If GM wanted to they could flood the market with EVs. They have excellent cars in both the Volt and the Bolt, with good engineering behind both. They sell more than they need to for compliance reasons, but not so much that they lose a whole pile of money, and basically are limited by battery supplies. I think they are just keeping a poker in the fire so that when they can do it profitably, they will do it in force.

        Unlike Tesla they don’t have endless buckets of investor cash to burn. They have to remain profitable. This is what their shareholders demand. So its Silverados and Equinox sales, but with the Bolt/Volt in their back pocket.

        They’re actually positioned very well. Much better than their VW or Toyota competition. Those two have a lot of catching up to do, engineering wise.

        1. JustWilliamPDX says:

          I quite agree, and thank you for summing it up so succinctly. 😀

        2. przemo_li says:

          Not quite.

          I mean LG is only THREE times smaller then Panasonic, and have dozens of EV car OEMs as a clients, but I’m sure they could manage same absolute growth if GM would put the money down….

          But Tesla validated Gigafactory only recently with Model 3. Up to that point thought it crazy idea.

          So yes. Very theoretically, anyone with enough $$$ could outproduce Tesla. But we know they didn’t. There is simply no way to hide such capacity build out.

  5. Terawatt says:

    Maybe it’ll take hours to sell out, rather than minutes as was the case last year.

    A big percentage improvement isn’t necessarily impressive and this is a fine example.

    If an ICE vehicle was in far greater demand than supply, would GM be so pathetically slow to increase production??

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      If it was a gasmobile, GM wouldn’t be dependent on LG Chem for batteries or LG Electronics for the entire EV powertrain. GM would probably be producing the ICEngine and other critical components in-house, and would be able to ask suppliers to crank up production within a few months. They wouldn’t be dependent on a supply of batteries from a company that requires a two-year lead on orders, as LG Chem does (or at least did) for its batteries.

      As it is, I would not be at all surprised if GM has to reduce domestic inventory to supply S. Korea with 5000 units.

      1. Dan says:

        Exactly correct. Basically the Bolt IS an LG chem car as much as it is a GM car.

        1. ClarksonCote says:

          Ok. And Tesla is a Panasonic car. And Leaf is an LG car. And…

          Sheesh

          1. Mikael says:

            In what way is the Leaf an LG car? 😉

            1. Ryan says:

              Next year’s 60kwh Leaf will be LG, is what I hear. But yeah, not the current models.

              1. William says:

                Not until later this year/early 2019.
                The Nissan Leaf will be 2 years behind the Chevy Bolt, with 200 mi. range capability, and electronics/batteries with LG inside.

          2. przemo_li says:

            Yes.

            Panasonic/Tesla does have bigger supply, and thus bigger production and thus bigger sales.

            Let me repeat. Tesla sells 80-150k cars in bigger quantities then LG/GM 35k cars. In economics that simply **impossible**, unless one also observe that LG/GM is smaller EV company compared to Panasonic/Tesla.

        2. Ryan says:

          GM is dependent on LG chem for battery supplies, but they could easily build the rest of the car themselves.

          Using LG checm for the motor is a choice GM made for expediency reasons. In the Volt only the battery pack is LG provided — they built their own (excellent) EV motors.

          Even in ICE cars a good high perctange of components are provided by third party parts manufacturers, except for maybe the engine.

          Where I think GM is weak though is in software. On the head unit in particular (the Volt’s is really not great) and in online services to support it. (myvolt.com is a total disaster)

          1. Neromanceres says:

            GM owns all the design. So if LG Chem cannot produce enough components for the Bolt EV there is nothing stopping GM from going to another vendor like Samsung to have them make the exact same components. The difference right now is that LG Chem gave GM a good price an has been a good partner for them. To add additional vendors would likely be expensive. There is no incentive for GM to throw more money at the car at this time.

        3. JustWilliamPDX says:

          The design and engineering are GM, and are supplied by LG. Nearly every manufacturer on the planet depends heavily on suppliers for components, so this meme of the “LG Bolt” is really rather silly. It’s best followed by a smiley emoji.😀

          My belief is that GM “bean-counters” have an optimal production number that best balances their bottom line. They need to meet regulations, and have clearly done some serious R&D. But neither shareholders nor director boards would tolerate overproducing a loss leader. It isn’t an inspiring or noble practice, but neither is it the nefarious or “anti EV” plot some try to infer.

    2. Xzy89c says:

      Why sell more of something they lose money every time they sell?

  6. Anderlan says:

    So will they put Chademos on the SK market Bolts, or CCS? Kia’s Soul EV’s Chademo, and probably some SK LEAF penetration, makes me think Chademo. But I also wonder if there are agreements there to make CCS heir apparent.

    1. Anderlan says:

      I’m wondering because right now a Chademo Bolt might be more useful where I am than the standard CCS.

    2. HVACman says:

      S. Korea officially adopted CCS as their “standard” DCFC charge system two weeks ago.

      https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1114590_south-korea-to-standardize-on-ccs-fast-charging-standard-used-by-us-german-makers

      GM is one of the main advocates of using only SAE standards and one of original partners in creating CCS through the SAE. I suspect GM was instrumental in convincing Korea to go with CCS. It is not coincidental that GM made this announcement right after Korea officially adopted CCS. Quid pro quo.

      The Bolt is perfectly designed for the growing urban market in Korea. Small, easy-to-park, but carries lots of people and stuff.

      1. bro1999 says:

        And a “coast to coast” road trip in South Korea is within the Bolt’s range for the most part. Multiple charging stops mid-trip are not needed. South Koreans will experience range anxiety far less than us in the States.

      2. Mikael says:

        All the Korean car manufacturers are supporting CCS so it was an easy choice.

        It had absolutely nothing to do with GM.

      3. God/Bacardi says:

        The ICE Spark, the Spark EV the ICE Sonic and the Bolt EV were all designed in Korea…

    3. wavelet says:

      The post-Soul EVs from Hyundai & Kia (Ioniq BEV/PHEV, Niro, Kona) are all CCS AFAIK; not sure about the 2018 Soul EV — according to the US site, it’s still ChaDeMo.

  7. jim stack says:

    KIA SOUL EV and Hyundai IONIQ all electric compete in that same area. I wonder why GM isn’t pushing the much bigger China market.

    The Chevy Bolt is sold out in the Phoenix area since they have such a low allotment. They should increase all markets unless they are still playing compliance?

    1. Ambulator says:

      Hmm, maybe GM is waiting to see how their battery holds up in Phoenix weather.

    2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “I wonder why GM isn’t pushing the much bigger China market.”

      Because the Bolt EV’s batteries are made in S. Korea, and China recently imposed restrictions on sales of EVs using batteries made outside China, specifically targeting S. Korea, as part of the escalating tensions with N. Korea, which China is using as an “attack dog” to extort concessions in international negotiations.

  8. ffbj says:

    That’s a lot about 1/5 of their overall production for the year.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      It’s 1/6 (5000 / 30,000) of last year’s production. (Production exceeds sales because of the need to maintain inventory.) I don’t think GM has plans to reduce production this year, and who knows? They may increase it slightly.

      1. Asak says:

        Production might already have been increased. Remember last summer they reconfigured the factory to pump out more Bolts relative to the number of Sonics? Well, extended over the course of a full year that might result in increased production compared to what they made in 2017.

        1. Neromanceres says:

          Correct GM increased Bolt EV production 50% in August. Given the dealer supply chain this would have only been noticeable on the sales charts starting in October.

  9. bro1999 says:

    To put that 5k number in perspective, a little over 10,000 plug-ins (BEVs + PHEVs) TOTAL were sold in South Korea last year. So these 5k Bolts would have made up almost 50% of the Korean EV market last year, and will be a very large chunk of the market this year…just not quite 50%.

    1. Mikael says:

      33%. (5k out of 15k, if you’re not expecting the Bolt to make other plugins vanish 😉

      And that is without counting November and December sales.

      Next year it will probably be closer to 30k sales in South Korea in total.

  10. David Murray says:

    Probably taking advantage of the shortage of Hyundai Ioniq.

    1. menorman says:

      There’s no Ioniq shortage in S. Korea. If anything, the commitment to the home market is why there’s such a shortage outside of S. Korea as they’re delivering around 45% of production there.

      https://pushevs.com/2017/12/20/hyundai-ioniq-production-figures-november/

      1. Mikael says:

        There is an Ioniq shortage in South Korea. Those few cars are not nearly enough to satisfy the market.

  11. scottf200 says:

    Will this help GM push off the 200K USA limit to extend the $7500 tax credit … hmmm.

    1. God/Bacardi says:

      200K is a “trigger” not a limit…Once the 200th is delivered, you still receive the full credit for that quarter AND the FOLLOWING quarter…After that, the credit amount is reduced…

      Therefore GM sending some to Korea would have little to do with preserving the credit…

      1. menorman says:

        Yes, if anything, this would hamper GM efforts. I think it’s evident that they’re going to eventually lower MSRP on the Bolt since no one pays it anyway, but it’s in their best interest to lower the MSRP in the quarter when they reach 200k to juice sales during the next five quarters of unlimited eligibility. But if they don’t have the ability to meet the demand, then we’ll have to wait longer.

  12. SparkEV says:

    Without subsidy is 45M KRW, but with 12M KRW result in 28M KRW? 45-12=33, how did they get 28?

    If it does sell for 28M KRW, that is one heck of a bargain. I don’t think there’s any car, gas or EV, as quick as Bolt at that price point. Why get boring old Elantra GT when you can have Bolt for similar money? I suspect they will sell out in matter of hours.

  13. God/Bacardi says:

    Was there ever follow-ups to the 400 sold in Korea last year?

    First it was reported that GM “sold out” of Korean Bolt dealership ALLOCATIONS…So the dealers were buying them and would be stupid not to based on supply and demand…We’re Korean customers willing to shell out money over sticker?

  14. Lawrence says:

    It is really a Korean car (designed by Koreans) so it should have more appeal over there than in the U.S.

    1. bro1999 says:

      The Ioniq EV is an actual Korean car. Interesting to see which sells better this year, the Ioniq EV or the Bolt EV.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        What I think is going to be interesting to watch is how much Hyundai can crank up production on the Ioniq Electric to meet surprisingly high demand. As with most EV makers, Hyundai is dependent on outside suppliers for its batteries.

      2. menorman says:

        Yes, Hyundai already sold more than 5k Ioniq EVs in the S. Korean domestic market last year, so the question is whether the Bolt will poach sales or expand the market.

      3. eltosho says:

        Sorry (maybe not) to tell you, but the Bolt is also Korean. At least the important parts of it 🙂

        1. Neromanceres says:

          The important bits might have been made in Korea. But they were designed in the US.

    2. wavelet says:

      Nope. GM US designed the drivetrain and much of the body, with a lot of work by both GM Korea as well as the GM Australia design center.
      LG doesn’t have the in-house capability to do any automotive design or integration — they are of course a major supplier, both for the traction pack cells (actual battery is manufactured in the US) and many other components. LG _may_ have done the design on the infotainment — they do have a line of car radio head units — but not the integration; the same display is used both for that and dirvetrain info.

    3. Kdawg says:

      The original concept was designed by GM Australia. The production version, based off the concept, was designed GM Korea, led by GM Detroit.

      1. Neromanceres says:

        Correct. Also the battery design, cell chemistry and powertrain including electric motor would have been mostly engineered by GM in the US.

        1. Lawrence says:

          No.

          LG Chem (Korea) Supplied:
          Electric Drive Motor
          Power Inverter Module (converts DC power to AC for the drive unit)
          On Board Charger
          Electric Climate Control System Compressor
          Battery Cells and Pack
          High Power Distribution Module (manages the flow of high voltage to various components)
          Battery Heater
          Accessory Power Module (maintains low-voltage power delivery to accessories)
          Power Line Communication Module (manages communication between vehicle and a DC charging station)
          Instrument Cluster
          Infotainment System

  15. Roy_H says:

    I always argued that the Volt and Bolt were making at least small profits for GM (not counting development costs). But Mary Barra says they won’t make profit until 2020, so I was wrong. As long as they are loosing money, they have no incentive to increase production.

    1. Kdawg says:

      The Gen2 Volt is profitable per Mark Reuss.

      1. God/Bacardi says:

        Do you have an actual link? Searching on google shows either promises prior to the Gen2 being sold or claims that their next Gen EVs will be profitable…

        1. Neromanceres says:

          I don’t think anyone accept people within GM really know either way. But GM did publicly state that they took several thousand dollars out of the cost of the Gen II Volt. That would certainly lend to the strong possibility that the Gen II Volt is profitable.

    2. Ryan says:

      I don’t think she was saying they don’t make them a profit. I think she was saying the EV portion of the business (including all ongoing R&D that goes into them) will be profitable by 2020. At least that’s my guess.

      1. Roy_H says:

        Makes more sense.

    3. Asak says:

      They could be making money when you look purely at sale price – production cost. But it could still be negative when you take into consideration the R&D costs. However, the R&D for the Bolt and Volt isn’t really *just* for them, it’s really about the entire future GM electric line-up, so it really shouldn’t be figured just against those two models.

      1. Neromanceres says:

        Recent 3rd party cost analysis already show this to be true. And at some point the initial capitol costs will be amortized. Hence why GM has claimed that their overall EV program will be profitable.

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