More Production Details Leak Out On Chevrolet Bolt – Will Share Platform With Sonic


Chevrolet Bolt

Chevrolet Bolt

Chevrolet Bolt

Chevrolet Bolt

All the pieces of the puzzles are slowly coming together.

Remember this 200-mile Chevy Sonic EV report, in which we state it would launch in 2016?

Our how ’bout our exclusive report on General Motors working with focus groups on 200-mile electric car?

Well, if you’ve been following our various Bolt/Sonic/200-mile electric Chevy reports over the last year or so, then most of this latest leaked info will fall under the category of “Yes, InsideEVs told us this months ago.” It all largely confirms what we’ve reported numerous times in the past, but it’s from new sources, with some additional insider info.

Here are the important bits (via Detroit News):

  • General Motors Co. is expected to announce next week at the Chicago Auto Show that it will build the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt at its Orion Assembly Plant in Orion Township
  • In November, GM said it would invest $160 million into Orion for tooling and equipment for a future vehicle, but GM didn’t name it.
  • LMC Automotive is forecasting the Bolt would go into production at Orion in late 2016 and would go on sale in 2017
  • High 20,000 to low 30,000 range of the Chevy electric car annually once production is ramped up
  • Sonic and Bolt will be built off the same ‘platform’

General Motors is expected to formally announce that the Bolt is production-bound at the opening of the 2015 Chicago Auto Show where GM North America President Alan Batey is the featured speaker at an opening breakfast Thursday of next week.

Source: Detroit News

Categories: Chevrolet


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89 Comments on "More Production Details Leak Out On Chevrolet Bolt – Will Share Platform With Sonic"

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One hope.. and I doubt it will ever come true.. is that it would be available in AWD.

Look to E-segment (full-sized) vehicles for AWD, the added cost to a C-segment (compact) vehicle will likely be too much given the price point for the market.
ie: AWD would add ~20% to price of drivetrain.

Instant torque control and low center of gravity gives a 2WD EV traction closer to an ICE AWD than an ICE 2WD.

Both the Chevy Trax and the Buick Encore come in AWD and share the same platform.

It’s not a matter of being possible, but what price-point. Not seeing likely with initial release, but AWD could be added as an option to drivetrain platform at a later date.

A higher volume drivetrain production could give GM something to leverage in making an AWD EV a reality. It will all depend on the combined sales volume … too early to speculate.

I suspect making AWD an option on a standard-FWD BEV might be uniquely difficult.

With a battery likely in the way, it won’t be a simple as connecting a rear axle with a drive-shaft running down the center of the vehicle.

And, similarly, with trunk space already at a high premium due to battery placement, putting a 2nd motor in the rear seems unlikely too.

(Tesla could relatively simply make the Model S AWD since they had the empty “frunk” space to put the 2nd motor.)

So probably the only way to make it work is with an additional motor for each wheel. Doable, for sure, but it’s hard to gage how difficult it is since no major automaker has come out with an EV with motors in this configuration yet.

As you say, no production plug-in EV has 4 independent motors powering the four wheels. Or at least, none that I’m aware of; none of the best sellers, at any rate. The “beta” version of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV did use that configuration, but the production version uses an inboard motor just like every other EV. There are various problems to building an EV that way, but it boils down to the 4-motor configuration being too expensive and not sufficiently durable.

Your comments about the difficulty of configuring an EV built on the Sonic platform to be a viable all-wheel drive EV, using two electric motors (like the “D” variant of the Tesla Model S), point up just one of many reasons why no EV built on a gas guzzler platform will ever be compelling. And points up the fact that GM is not yet serious about building a plug-in EV which will actually compete with any top selling gas guzzler.

Not a high volume car, but the $500k Mercedes E-cell gullwing had a seperate motor for each wheel and torque vectoring. It also had well over 100 mile range.


Don’t understand how Tesla and Panasonic is spending ~4-5 BILLION on gigafactory, manufacturing etc to make a 200mi BEV (genIII) for 35k and GM is spending a couple 100million for a 200mi BEV for 35k? How does that happen?

GM buys their cells from LG Chem. they use larger format cells that can be manufactured quickly. Tesla uses 7000+ lap top batteries in each battery pack so they need millions of them not thousands like LG Chem. LG Chem already built their factories and Tesla did not. cell size makes a big difference.

It happens because Tesla Motors is seriously committed to selling compelling BEVs in large numbers. That’s not only their core product, it’s nearly their -only- product. Contrariwise, GM has every reason -not- to sell large numbers of EVs, which would only eat into their sales of their core product, which is gas guzzlers. This was, and is, entirely predictable. The exact same thing happens in every disruptive tech revolution. Existing market leaders, using the old tech, not only don’t have an incentive to develop and sell the new tech; they have a -disincentive- to do so. That’s why, in for example the digital camera revolution, foot-dragging by film camera manufacturers lead to first Polaroid, then Kodak, going bankrupt. I have to laugh every time I see someone say that some other EV maker is going to seriously challenge Tesla’s lead by building a “200 mile” EV using a new generation of batteries from LG Chem. According to reports, LG is going to spend a few hundred million dollars to build new battery factories for EVs. Compare to Tesla, which has committed to building a $5 billion Gigafactory. That’s “Billion”, with a “B”. LG Chem’s factory will be in China, so… Read more »

You speak the truth.

The truth hurts. Makes me wonder why so many in the EV camp find that hard to understand. They look to BMW to “challenge” Tesla, but it’s so hard since their bread-and-butter is ICE gas pigs. Their resistance is so profound, they build fwd econoboxes on Mini platforms and have big plans to market them worldwide at a luxury price!

I always say the legacy car companies will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century EV revolution by Tesla and Tesla alone.

I believe Volt shows great, efficient bellweather cars can be built on existing ICE platforms. For a full BEV with 200-500 miles of range, surely it will take a proprietary skateboard-type foundation.

Dr. Miguelito Loveless

On the money. The other disincentive for traditional car makers is the loss of spare parts revenue, which makes up a huge chunk of profits. BEVs do not need to replace starters, radiators, alternators, head gaskets, fuel injectors, fuel pumps, mufflers, etc. all high margin items that will evaporate once people go electric.

Tesla starts with a clean slate and no legacy sales to protect.

I would guess that Tesla has to get a lower $/kWh than regular OEMs, because they have to make a significant gross margin on every vehicle they sell. They don’t have a line of already profitable ICEs to fund their overhead costs.

GM can break even, or even lose money on the first generation Bolts, knowing that they will make it up down the road. Similar to what they have done with the Volt.

If the bolt really costs $30000 (after federal rebate) and it really has 150 or 200 mile range, they will sell many, many more than 30000 units per year.


I’m not so sure about your sales prediction.

We know all people look at is the MSRP and 37K for a limited use vehicle is still a lot of money.

Personally I think the Volt for 2500$ less is a better deal.

All said in done I think GM is using a reasonable production rate and sales prediction.


Enjoy your Volt, but remember, Bolt competes with Leaf.

Leaf currently sells more than 60000 per year with less than 100mi range. Image how well it could sell with 200mi range.

Don’t forget it would have to compete with Model 3 though. If that car truly is the 3 series competitor it’s announced to be for less money than Bolt 20-35K/year units might even be optimistic.

I think I’m going to start calling the “Model 3” the “Model When”…

Yes, the Bolt will have to compete against the Model When. Range, price, and charging infrastructure are only 3 parts of the buying decision. Given GM’s experience in building cars and that GM is more likely to exist as a car company 10 years from now (parts & support), there are other reasons to consider the Bolt over the Model When.

I’m a bit puzzled about Elon’s saying that he wasn’t concerned about competition from the Bolt, but then noting that the Model When’s price is $35K before incentives. Hmmm…

Simon could lie no more. He left.

Sure, the Bolt will almost certainly debut before the Tesla Model ≡. So what? GM isn’t serious about making compelling EVs, let alone selling them in large numbers.

The Tesla Model S outsells every other luxury sedan sold in the USA, because it’s a much better car and gives the driver a much better driving experience.

Whenever the Model ≡ debuts, it may very well outsell every car — including gas guzzlers — in its price class. It almost certainly will vastly outsell every other highway capable plug-in EV sold in North America, and likely Europe and British Commonwealth countries too.

If you understand what the reality is, then Musk’s lack of concern about the Bolt (or any other non-Tesla EV) is entirely understandable.

Hey, can I get your contact so I can order a Bolt? What? It’s just a clay and prototype shell? Seriously, arguing that a prototype demo unit that hasn’t been announced for production is real versus the announced planned vehicle is silly. Neither exist.

I will also add that the Bolt is an ugly, useless car whose only compelling feature will be range.

Don’t hold your breath remember what happened to the EV1? CRUSHED, SMASHED, PULVERIZED

Haha! Yeah, and so was the Rav4 EV, the Ford Ranger, and the Honda EV+… all crushed.

Out of all those, Honda has no real EV that isn’t a compliance lease-then-crush offering, Toyota has abandoned EV’s for fool cells, and Ford is making some attempt at plug-ins by compromising the trunk space. Only GM is moving forward with meaningful electrification.

So, what’s your point?

My point is, until I can test drive a Bolt at my local Chevy dealer, I will not hold my breath.

Let it go.

GM has given us the Volt, the Spark EV, the ELR, the Volt 2.0, and this upcoming Bolt. Plug-ins are here to stay.

It will have the potential to sell many more than 30K vehicles per year, but there’s no guarantee GM will be able to furnish more batteries and cars than that.

exactly what i was thinking. this thing will easily double that if not more.

That’s what many thought about the Volt, too. Didn’t happen.

I’m not entirely sure. If gas prices were to spike up to $4/gal, we would see a rush on these EVs as people replace gas cars with EVs. But in the current $60/bbl era of oil, we’re going to see more middling demand for EVs, short of a large gas tax increase (which we definately need for roads! 25c/gal over the next 5 years, with a plan to handle EV/plug-in cars by the mile).

I think 30K units a year is a reasonable amount, with half going to CA/OR/WA and the other half to the rest of the country.

EVs are going to take a while to catch on. Tesla helps in this respect – they make the flashy EV that gets people’s attention, and if they spend a little time looking into it they’ll find themselves an EV they can afford.

the Bolt will not be competitive with economy cars. the Bolt will be priced at about the initial price of the Leaf, but with much more range. the driving characteristics of EVs are quite premium, so i would expect that you would also be able to peel off some buyers of BMW 3-series/MB c-class. so the 25-35,000/year sales goal seems reasonable. i wouldn’t go much above that, though, because even those to whom an EV will appeal will look at the price of the Bolt and see that it is more expensive than the Volt. the importance of this, as i see it, is that the Bolt will have more appeal to many of the early adopters; people who have higher incomes and will be more willing to invest that kind of money into a second car. this will help them drive down the cost of PHEVs, which will most likely have broader general market acceptance. so GM is following a bifurcated marketing strategy in which they are advancing on the PHEV front and on the BEV front. i suspect that they are trying to drive the Volt into the lower price PHEV subsegment with Cadillac occupying the higher price… Read more »

The Leaf will undoubtedly get more range too within the next2-3 years. The Bolt, by the time it comes out, won’t likely be the only 200 mile range BEV.

ggpa said: “If the bolt really costs $30000 (after federal rebate) and it really has 150 or 200 mile range, they will sell many, many more than 30000 units per year.” No, they won’t sell all that many. GM doesn’t want to sell that many. And even if it did, they couldn’t. Over the next few years at least, nobody will be able to supply enough batteries for a long-range EV selling in large numbers. That is, nobody but Tesla with its Gigafactory. Note that both Nissan and now, Tesla, had to build or are building their own battery factories, to ensure they can build as many EVs as they can sell. Those who claim LG Chem can supply enough batteries for multiple auto makers to sell “200 mile EVs” in large numbers… have not done the math. It is said that to switch all auto sales to plug-in EVs will require the annual production of about 100 Gigafactories. So far, Tesla is the only company building even one. So far, Tesla is the only company serious about committing the money and resources necessary to build long-range EVs in numbers to challenge even -one- model of best-selling gas guzzler. That… Read more »

For all those non-Michiganders, Orion pronounced OH-RHEE-ON; not like the constellation Orion, OH-RHI-ON.

Oh -REEE-ly

Like OH REE OH? Nom…

But that seems really needlessly confusing. Perhaps they should change the company name to “Oreon”? No one is going to say it correctly at first glance. 😛

Most everyone in Michigan does.

We also have a city Charlotte, MI pronounced SHAR-LAHT. Not like the city in SC.

And I’ll let you all guess how to pronounce Sault Ste. Marie. 🙂

Oh, and Mackinac City.

is it on “mack-in-naw” island?


The Suuuueeee

Charlotte is in North Carolina :p

Both Carolinas are South to me 🙂

Fair enough since Michigan is in Canada 😉


Thread of the day!!!!

Yeah, I second that, George. Sure beats Obama today pronouncing that Christians are really to blame for ISIS’ acts of barbarism we see today. He cited the Crusades and Catholics’ actions 700 years ago! Wow! So it’s OUR FAULT ( Christendom ) that these fanatics exist today – and we should just call all religions “crazy”. OK, Mr. Obama – please step down now! For those who think Obama will push through a point-of-purchase EV rebate, dream on – it can only happen if we push our federal representatives. For those that think Obama won’t give up on Keystone XL and just let the lions have it…dream on. To protect his sacred Obamacare, he’ll toss us under the Keystone XL bus. For those who think I’m wrong – just remember our president caved to near-shore oil drilling. This was after his presidential campaign in which he repeatedly stated he would never cave on the issue. Why did he do it? To gain leverage with Obamacare. Hindsight 20/20 dept.: It didn’t gain him one Republican and he got the Unaffordable Healthcare Act passed anyway. So now we can sit on the Florida shore and drink a cool one while we gaze… Read more »

you need to discover (non)information sources other than fox news and the drudge report. give yourself a chance to get back in touch with the real world.

I guess you didn’t watch his speech.

Or did Fox, CNN and CBS just overdub it?
At the National Prayer Breakfast, he broke out with this beauty: “Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ,”. – And he states he isn’t defending Islam….

Here’s the Republican-biased, evil BBC article:

I’d be glad to direct you to sources other than Fox ( I’m not a Republican ) to verify Obama’s opening up near-coastal drilling two weeks before the BP Gulf disaster. I’ll happily direct you by link to Obama on the campaign trail many times stating he would never bend to near coastal drilling and exploration.

You see, I’m not blinded by “Hope And Change”. You need facts – not accusations.

Michigan also has a city named Brooklyn, but Michiganers (Michiganites?) prounounce it with a funny accent and no attitude. Fuhgeddaboudit! 😉

you mean the city in *north* carolina.

that’s a very new england sounding pronunciation, by the way…get yah cyah outta hahvahd yahd.

The Bolt is supposed to be at the Canadian International Autoshow in Toronto at that time. I just think that’s interesting. They can announce without the concept being there, but I wonder if they’ll have a production intent version to show?

of course not, you won’t see that until it is close to production. keep in mind, the first public appearances of the production version will be under camouflage.

When it comes to GM actions speak louder than words. I will wait and see.

A better name than “Bolt”, might be:

“EVonic”– since it shares the platform for the Sonic. Whereas, “Bolt” is just dumb…

While we’re at it, a better name for Tesla’s Model X might be Model D, since it’s been delayed so many times. 😀

Take that Anon. 🙂

We’re bashun GM… Shhh. ;D

As with anything Elon, the idea of X expanded a bit over the original idea, and the delays just mean he’s fussing over details– details that tend to make the vehicle much better than anything GM would generally come up with on their own. *shrugs*

The Chevrolet Ebonic? I don’t think so.

*raises hand*

I speak Ebonic! 😉

Is awesome that auto manufactures are looking to build multiple vehicle models using the same drivetrain.

The Tesla Model S and X will be the first to leverage scale created with delivering multiple models. Nissan is closest so far by sharing multiple motor components between LEAF and eNV200, but each uses a different battery pack configuration. Wondering if Nissan, BMW, etc., will follow similar multi-model EV drivetrain strategies for 2017-2020?

Insideevs also told me the CHAdeMO adapter for Tesla was shipping months ago.

Unfortunately, I can’t use the link to the article to charge my car. 🙂

Right and the Volt Gen 2 was supposed to have a Turbo V6 🙂

If Chevy sells big numbers of new Volts and Bolts the $7,500 tax credit will start to phase out quickly.

Only down side of big sales numbers.

I just re-upped for a 3 yr lease on a new Leaf in December. I hope Chevy does not run out of credits before my lease is up.

I would like to try a Volt before the credits run out…

If the Bolt is less than 2 years from production, it is way beyond “concept” stage. Engineering freezes on various systems are just around the corner. As Andrew Farah reminded us about the Volt, GM usually has a 5-year development cycle from concept to production, so this puppy has been in the works for over 3 years.

I’m sure GM will keep as tight a lid on the Bolt’s body and interior details as they did the Gen 2 Volt, but within months, GM will have to start testing “in the wild” and maybe do the now-SOP EV test up Pikes Peak this summer. Can’t wait for the spy shots of the actual production-intent Bolt.

Excellent points… Everyone remembers the (lets be honest here) complete bait and switch GM pulled when they first showed the Volt Concept– then what the final production version actually looked like. The differences in design language, and basic proportions between both vehicles could not have been more divergent, or more misleading for prospective consumers. “Bolt” is (pun intended), still just a conceptual puppy. Others here have commented that the solid glass roof and likely even the interior– would have to change if it were to be mass produced. History strongly suggests to not get too attached to a mere GM Concept Vehicle… Since “Bolt” is using the Sonic platform, to get near 200ish mile range, where are the batteries going? Converted ICE platforms tend not to have optimized space for them… Will it need to stack / separate the packs, like Ford did for its Focus EV? What will be the impacts on interior / cargo space? Now, there is no way this vehicle already has three full years of work put into it. Given how very short the production and vetting cycle for this vehicle appears to be, I would find it hard to jump into a GM Dealership… Read more »

Anon said:

“Now, there is no way this vehicle already has three full years of work put into it.”

I think you’re right. It’s possible to put a car on a short-track development cycle of only 2=1/2 years or so. Especially if the auto maker intends it to be a compliance car, or at best a sideline rather than a car they plan to build and sell in large numbers. In such a case, the auto maker will use as many parts from another car (like the Sonic) as possible, saving a lot on development cost and time.

And of course, failing once again to produce a truly compelling plug-in EV. But hey, from GM’s viewpoint that’s a good thing. They wouldn’t want anything to make a serious impact on their sales of gas guzzlers!

One more point: Keep in mind the legacy auto makers’ customers are not average car buyers. They sell their cars to the dealers, who have a -huge- disincentive to stock and sell EVs.

*nods* I have to agree. “Bolt” is very much a “Me Too!” EV…

The lack of a purpose built BEV platform, no gigafactory for batteries, no global UltraFast DC Charging Network (Like Tesla’s Super Charger Network, free with purchase of vehicle for life of said vehicle), and no CCS DC Fast Chargeer on the prototype– are important missing pieces to the puzzle, that is the “Bolt EV”.

Maybe the name “Bolt”, just refers to slapping on Sonic parts, to make this BEV?

LOL! That hadn’t occurred to me. “We call it the Bolt because we Bolted an electric motor into the Sonic.” 😉

HVACman is right. If you think this is some “rush job” to take on Tesla you haven’t been following GM’s efforts very closely. This car was being discussed, publicly, by the CEO over two years ago. Obviously there would have been work underway before that.

They are far beyond the concept stage at this point. The concept car being shown now gives us a hint at design direction; nothing more. The car shown to focus groups differed significantly and had production switchgear among other things.

i’m not so sure that i agree with this assessment; the ELR ended up being very close to the Converj. the Gen2 Volt doesn’t count because there was already a Gen1 Volt in the market, and the Gen2 was designed based on feedback on the Gen1. the Bolt will be a new automobile; if GM wasn’t already heavily invested in this thing, they would not have had the GM CEO do the announcement.

The ELR body was dropped onto the already existing Volt chassis. Not a difficult thing to transplant existing drivetrain bits onto a pizza cutter platform.

Based on the concept, it is highly unlikely that there are 3 years of solid development already in this car. They didn’t even get very basic details like the charge port (press release says it supports DC, the one on concept doesn’t) and the number of seats right (concept shown has 4, execs have separately indicated if they were to make a production it would have 5).


It’s simply a rush job, to beat Tesla’s Model III to market. Even though GM’s production will be “highly constrained” by lack of sufficient batteries for aprox. 30k vehicles per year. 😛

Didn’t they say at the auto show, that the concept Bolt was designed and built solely by the Holden team out of Australia?

It is possible that GM is running around testing the drivetrains in Sonics as we speak, but the design and power train have not been merged yet.

GM has been running ev fleets for 5 years see cruze ev in Korea and the Spark Ev (Essentially a test fleet in consumer’s hands). Shots of a chevy sonic cuv (Bolt) testing are plentiful. They have been testing on the road since 2013.

this whole Bolt announcement campaign was scripted before the detroit auto show. first they generate the buzz of a surprise announcement by the GM CEO. there was no way that GM was going to lose the momentum by not saying anything afterwards. now, people are following every announcement related to this car.

Does anyone knows if there will be a range extended version of the Bolt?

Ask GM about the “5th Seat”… I’m sure at this point, even GM does not know.

Victor asked:

“Does anyone knows if there will be a range extended version of the Bolt?”

Seems unlikely. Why would they add an option for the Bolt that would make it a competitor for the Volt?

Did all of you forget that GM showed a CUV version of the Volt several years ago?

They may have been testing various versions of that for years already, using standard mule bodies from other CUVs they already make, and no one would ever notice.

“Sonic and Bolt will be built off the same platform”

So, was it designed as an electric and adapted to ICE, or was it designed as an ICE and converted to BEV?

Or was it designed as a platform that could go either way?

Whatever the answer, that is why the Tesla 3 will be a superior vehicle. Whatever it looks like, we already know that it will be a “ground up”, no compromise BEV. No conversation, no adaptation, no shoehorning components, no loss of cargo space.

I understand why GM would do this, it does make sense for a manufacturer in their position, they’ve been doing this forever, ten different models on three different chassis. It saves money for a manufacturer. It allows them the freedom to make a vehicle under each marque, Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and sometimes Cadillac. (Yes, I know some of them are now defunct) But that’s how manufacturers like GM work.

Tesla on the other hand, I don’t expect to see too many structural components shared between the S and the 3.

Yes, I do expect to see some shared between the S and the X, though.

It is an all new sonic platform which includes an EV.

‘ the Tesla 3 will be a superior vehicle. Whatever it looks like, we already know that it will be a “ground up”, no compromise BEV. No conversation, no adaptation, no shoehorning components, no loss of cargo space.

I don’t expect to see too many structural components shared between the S and the 3.

Yes, I do expect to see some shared between the S and the X, though.’

And just how do you think Tesla is going to do all this and be profitable at a $35k price point? Not gonna happen….

Bolt is a ground up EV. New automobile platforms are modular, so there are no compromises.

GM has announced that the production version of the Bolt (which probably won’t look exactly like the concept version pictured above) will begin production in October 2016 in a factory north of Detroit.