General Motors unexpectedly announced an average 18% price cut for the Chevrolet Bolt this week, making it the most affordable battery-electric vehicle on the U.S. market — while nearly offsetting the loss of the federal tax credits that GM experienced last year.
When the 2023 Chevy Bolt EV reaches showrooms, you’ll be able to buy one for as little as $26,595, including destination fees. The larger Bolt EUV will have a base price of $28,195, after the bowtie brand trimmed base prices by $5,900-6,300.
The move makes the hatchback version of the Bolt the most affordable battery-electric vehicle available in the U.S., undercutting the Nissan Leaf, which starts at $28,375.
There is a catch: Nissan products currently qualify for up to $7,500 in federal tax credits. However, the Japanese automaker is approaching the sales threshold past which those incentives will begin phasing out; GM’s giveback phased out last year.
But where the Nissan S model only manages 150 miles per charge, the Bolt EV delivers 259 miles and the more SUV-like Bolt EUV 247 miles. The 226-mile Leaf Plus starts at $33,625 with delivery fees.
“This change reflects our ongoing desire to make sure Bolt EV/EUV are competitive in the marketplace,” GM said in a statement, adding that “affordability has always been a priority for these vehicles.”
All Fired Up
While GM was an early pioneer in electrification — introducing the original EV1 in 1996 — Bolt was its first long-range model when it debuted in 2016. It initially was powered by a 60-kilowatt-hour pack delivering 238 miles per charge. It got an upgrade to 66 kWh in 2020.
Unfortunately, Chevy was soon linked to a series of battery fires, which last year forced the automaker to recall 141,000 Bolt models built through early in the 2022 model year. It also ordered what turned into a 9-month production halt while it came up with a modified battery design. The BEV only went back on sale in March of this year.
And where Bolt was once the bestselling non-Tesla battery-electric vehicle, it has struggled to regain momentum since sales resumed, said Sam Abuelsamid, principal auto analyst with Guidehouse Insights, adding that this appears to explain why Chevrolet has cut the price on the two Bolt models now.
The automaker was expected to discount the BEVs, but not until after it launched an all-electric version of the Chevy Equinox SUV in fall 2023. The newer model will start at just over $30,000, GM CEO Mary Barra announced earlier this year.
“If they hadn’t had the recall and production stop, they probably would have waited,” said Abuelsamid.
Appealing to Entry Buyers
Other than the launch of the longer EUV model and the introduction of a bigger battery pack, Bolt has undergone few changes since its 2016 debut. But, that has helped GM pay off its initial investment in the vehicle, helping it justify the price cut.
And it lets the automaker target a segment of the market where it might be able to attract young, eco-friendly buyers who haven’t been able to afford a new BEV until now. With only a few exceptions, all-electric vehicles start above $40,000 and frequently push into six figures.
GM’s Grand Transformation
When it comes to electrification, General Motors has laid out one of the industry’s most aggressive transformation programs. It plans to eliminate internal combustion engines worldwide by 2035. But it said its Buick brand will go all-electric by 2030. By 2025, meanwhile, it plans to have at least 30 BEVs in production around the world.
It launched the GMC Hummer EV late last year and is just rolling out the new Cadillac Lyriq. It has confirmed a variety of additional models for various brands, including all-electric GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado pickups.
The bowtie brand also will get a battery-powered version of the Blazer SUV. This week, Buick debuted the Wildcat concept, though it’s unclear if that model will be put into production.
Starting with the Hummer EV, all-new models are migrating to GM’s new Ultium battery technology and a set of skateboard-like platforms, which is not yet under the Bolt. It is uncertain how long the older Bolt models will remain in production.