UAW Local 5960 member Kimberly Fuhr inspects a Chevrolet Bolt EV during vehicle production on May 6, 2021, at the General Motors Orion Assembly Plant in Orion Township, Michigan.
Steve Fecht for Chevrolet
DETROIT – General Motors plans to stop production of its electric Chevrolet Bolt models by the end of this year, CEO Mary Barra told investors Tuesday when discussing the company’s first-quarter earnings.
The Chevy Bolt EV and EUV, a larger version of the car, make up the vast majority of the company’s electric vehicle sales to date. However, the battery cells in the cars are an older design and chemistry than the automaker’s newer electric vehicles such as the GMC Hummer and Cadillac Lyriq, which utilize GM’s Ultium architecture.
Barra said a suburban Detroit plant that has produced Chevy Bolts since 2016 will be retooled in preparation for production of electric Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks scheduled for next year.
There’s irony in the timing of the Bolt getting axed. It comes amid record production and sales of the vehicle for mass-market consumers, which was GM’s initial goal.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra unveiled the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle during the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The company plans to produce more than 70,000 Bolt models this year, as it targets to sell over 400,000 EVs from early 2022 through mid-next year in North America.
GM pushed the Bolt out ahead of the Tesla Model 3 in 2016. The two were considered to be the first long-range EVs designed for mainstream drivers, starting at around $35,000.
But Bolt sales never caught on as well as many executives hoped, as EV sales overall remained minuscule outside of Tesla. The Bolt also suffered a major setback more recently, as GM recalled all of the Bolts ever produced due to a supplier-related battery issue that caused several fires.
“When the Chevrolet Bolt EV launched, it was a huge technical achievement and the first affordable EV, which set in motion GM’s all-electric future,” Chevy spokesman Cody Williams said in a statement. “Chevrolet will launch several new EVs later this year based on the Ultium platform in key segments, including the Silverado EV, Blazer EV and Equinox EV. “
The Vermont State Police released this photo of the 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV that caught fire on July 1, 2021 in the driveway of state Rep. Timothy Briglin, a Democrat.
Vermont State Police
GM expects to launch its upcoming EVs far faster than it has its high-end Hummer models and Cadillac Lyriq, which have been rolling out at a snail’s pace compared with its traditional vehicles.
Barra said when the Orion, Michigan, plant, which currently produces the Bolts, reopens and reaches full production, employment will nearly triple, and the company will have capacity to build 600,000 electric trucks annually.
GM has set a target to reach production capacity of 1 million EVs annually in the U.S. and in China, each, as it attempts to catch up to industry leader Tesla.
The Bolt models, starting under $30,000, are the least expensive new electric vehicles on sale in the U.S. GM’s upcoming Equinox EV is expected to have a similar starting price when it arrives this fall.
GM will expand its Chevrolet EV lineup in fall 2023 to include the Equinox EV, starting at about $30,000.