LG Chem Expects 30,000 Chevy Bolt Sales


During the Q3 earnings call this week, LG Chem vice president Kang Chang-beom told investors that his company expects Chevrolet to sell 30,000 Bolt all electric cars in 2017. LG Chem makes the batteries for the Bolt as well as many of the interior components, including the dashboard. Kang says how the Bolt performs in the market place will be a key test of whether electric cars can appeal to mainstream buyers in the US market.

GM 2017 Chevy Bolt chassis

While final option packages and pricing details have yet to be announced, the Bolt is expected to retail for about $39,000. After the federal tax credit is applied, the net cost of a Bolt should be around $31,500. That just happens to be very close to the average retail price of new cars and light truck in the United States at the moment.

All of which begs this question: Why so few? Seriously. Think about it. The Bolt is about the same size as the upcoming Tesla Model 3. It has about the same range as the Model 3 or perhaps a little more (238 miles versus 215 miles). It is priced within a few thousand dollars of the Model 3. And it will be available in selected markets before the end of this year.

Production of the Model 3 won’t begin until late next year, if it begins on time. Tesla says it will meet that target date but has failed to bring products to market on time several times in the past. The Model X SUV was more than 2 years late by the time production started. Then it took another 6 months for cars to start rolling off the assembly line at anything like a normal pace.

Tesla has 380,000 reservations for the Model 3 and expects to sell 400,000 of them a year right out of the chute. Why does Tesla think ten times as many people will want one of its cars as want a Chevy Bolt? The answer to that question speaks volumes about the state of the market for electric cars in America.

What makes a Tesla ten times more attractive than a Chevy? Why is the Tesla Model S outselling all other large luxury cars by a wide margin? What is it about Tesla that makes people want to open their wallets and throw money at the company? Various officials at GM have said they could sell as many as 80,000 Bolts a year — if demand is there.

Quick question. Why wouldn’t the demand be there if it is there for the Tesla Model 3? Why shouldn’t Chevrolet sell as many affordably priced electric cars as Tesla sells luxury cars? Tesls says it will sell a total of 90,000 Model S and Model X cars this year. Surely Chevrolet should be able to sell that many cars if they cost half as much, shouldn’t it? Next time I see Mary Barra, I think I will ask her for her those questions.

Source: Reuters


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I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.
  • HG Wells

    Simple answer. They will both sell as many as can be built.

    GM is limited by batteries. 30-35,000 first year (2018). 50-70,000 second year (2019). 100-150,000 third year (2020).

    • trackdaze

      Lg has current electric vehicle battery capacity of 280000. Its new european factory boosts this to about 400k by 2018.

      Of course this is assigned to all contracted supply deals. I imagine gm might be taking what they can based on a price that make sense for the bolt.

      With tesla its same deal with the gigafactory 500k battery allowing the model 3 volumes.

  • Rick Danger

    A writer on another blog put it this way, and it made a lot of sense:

    “GM is making a $37,500 car that would sell for $20,000 if it wasn’t electric, while Tesla is trying to make a $35,000 car that would sell for $35,000 if it wasn’t electric.”

    • Steve Hanley

      Well put.

    • EVPerks.com

      The person who wrote that is more than likely on the reservation list. Something to think about….will the $7500 incentive still be around by the time the Model 3 comes to market? Get the Bolt now with up to $13k in incentives in some states and then if you still want the Model 3 in 3 years, go for it. For the 3 years you’re driving a 100% EV with a 238 mile range, you’ll save another $5k (or more).

  • EVPerks.com

    No one has brought up the charging network issue. Many of those current non-ev drivers who put a deposit on a Model 3 have seen Tesla Stations almost everywhere and growing so that puts them at ease. EVSE installs need to placed in more workplace and MUD for the Bolt to reach 50k, 80k the first year. And with GM making no effort to install public stations, it will be up to the private sectors, government agencies and the utilities. We’re in the EVSE industry and see all of this happening very fast. Once the first Bolts hit the road and the reviews start to come and folks tout the benefits of 200+ mile range EV and the money savings, we predict the Bolt will exceed sales expectations, as long as LG Chem can keep up. Many members of the Tesla Model 3 FB page are poo pooing the Bolt but let them wait 2 or more 3 years. It’s actually not their loss, it’s everyone’s loss since we could have thousands of more EVs on the road. We applaud GM for finally getting into the EV game (again) and hopefully in a big way.

  • JP

    I own 2 Volts, 1st was new 2nd used. I also reserved a Model 3. I will NOT buy a Bolt. 1st, it cannot travel easily; the fast charging capability of the Bolt is not fast enough. 2nd, it costs more than the Model 3. 3rd, it doesn’t look as good. 4th, its resale value will plummet much like the Volt. 5th, it will not have the features the Model 3 will have. 6th, the warranty will not match the Tesla. 7th, the Bolt will price difference will be even greater in order to get close to the Tesla standard features. Exception will be Ludicrous Mode. 8th, the Bolt will be faster. 9th, people will rather say they drive a Tesla than a Chevy. 10th, I own stock in Tesla; I bought (the old) GM before the bail out.

  • Mike

    As mentioned by others, the charging network availability and speed make a huge difference in the value of an EV. The numbers on Non-Tesla (NT) quick chargers are deceiving to people who don’t drive EVs. The total number of NT stations looks impressive, until you realize they are often single plugs at a dealership only available when the dealership is open….. or a commercial service that charges fees equivalent to $5/gallon gas. To add insult to injury, most of them charge at a speed of less than 50% of a Tesla Supercharger. Non-Tesla EVs are only good as commuter cars until this changes. It is a huge factor that EV review articles rarely give the attention it deserves.