Earlier this month it was reported that GM is working on a Chevy Sonic EV with a 200-mile driving range and a price tag around $30,000. A follow-up report has revealed a few new details about the Chevy Sonic EV, including the likelihood of extremely limited production numbers.
Citing an unnamed source inside the industry, Green Car Reports learned that a supplier has received an initial production volume order of just 1,800 units over two years. That’s a pitifully low number, and while it may represent only the initial rollout, it sounds more like GM is building themselves yet another compliance car. That’s a shame, because with a similar range but lower price to the Tesla Model III, GM could have built themselves a legitimate contender for the EV crown.
The new electric car isn’t likely to debut until late 2015 or early 2016 at the soonest, with production beginning later that year. In the meantime, the Chevy Spark EV will continue in its role as a short-range stopgap against the rising tide of competitor’s electric cars. With the next Nissan LEAF said to offer optional battery sizes and up to 150 miles of driving range per charge, the Chevy Spark’s comparably paltry 82-mile range will leave it looking outdated almost overnight.
Why would GM build a competitive EV, only to limit sales so severely? Perhaps they don’t want to distract from the enthusiasm for the upcoming 2016 Chevy Volt, which will also offer a number of upgrades over the current model. Customers have let GM know that they want more room and more electric driving range, and rather than cannibalize Volt sales, the Sonic EV will serve to allow GM to skirt zero-emissions vehicle regulations in California.
Maybe the 200-mile electric driving range is exaggerated? Tesla seems to think that is the magic number for a mass market, affordable EV, and GM execs have already come out and admitted that the Cadillac ELR is no competitor for the mighty Model S. Is there another, secret electric vehicle in the works at GM?
Or maybe it isn’t a Sonic EV at all; maybe this new 200-mile electric car is going to be a Cadillac instead, a genuine electric car meant to compete head-to-head with Elon Musk’s Silicon Valley automaker. That would make a lot more sense given the low production volume, especially if it is designed to be a range-topping halo car.
This latest revelation really does create more questions than it answers