The Chevy Bolt was a great surprise from GM at the Detroit Auto Show, pledging a 200-mile range and a $30,000 price tag…after tax credits, that is. According to Reuters, the Bolt is much more than just a concept though, and production could begin as soon as the second half of 2016, putting it on dealership lots ahead of its main rival, the Tesla Model III.
While GM has been quick to squash these rumors, I was standing right next to a high-level GM executive at the Detroit Auto Show when he told a well-known EV advocate that the automaker “has a habit of bringing concepts to production.” Reuters reports that the Chevy Bolt will be built at an underused small-car factory somewhere north of Detroit, most likely the Orion Assembly plant, which produces the Chevy Sonic and Buick Verano and is producing well below capacity.
However, it could also be built at the Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly, where the Chevy Volt and Cadillac ELR are built alongside the Chevy Impala and Malibu. The Opel Ampera was also built here, and it’s located close to the LG Chem plant where the Bolt’s batteries will probably be produced, though the Bolt is reportedly sharing the same Gamma platform as the next-gen Sonic (a car I love more with each passing day). An Opel version of the Bolt will reportedly replace the Ampera to give GM a plug-in offering in Europe, where EV sales have nearly doubled.
GM would be foolish not to build the Bolt, and despite their protestations, it looks like we might get the affordable EV that Elon Musk promised even sooner than we hoped. The question then becomes, will people still wait for the Tesla Model III? Or will they jump ship to the better-known and more-affordable offering from GM?