No surprise – Chevy Bolt is not selling well

Update:

I wrote the post below on 7/20/17. I included Bolt sales thru June 2017, which totaled 7,600. For July to September Chevy sold another 6,710. Monthly sales have grown each month since February. Beginning June 2016 the Bolt’s monthly sales were greater than the Prius Prime, Toyota’s plug-in hybrid. The fully electric Bolt sold more than 2,000 cars each month for August and September.

So the title to this post is not right. It should be “Surprise! People are buying Chevy Bolts”.

I don’t know if Chevy has any unusual deals that are moving cars, or whether there really is demand. Tesla is having trouble getting cars off the production line and they have a long wait list. So if you want an EV right now, with a 200 mile range for about $35,000, there is only one car you can get: the Bolt.


Original Post:

When the Bolt was first released I wondered why anyone would buy one.

Well, it’s been 6 months and Chevy has sold a whopping 7,600 of them, and has shut the factory that makes the Bolt and the Sonic.

Meanwhile, Tesla is about the start shipping the Model 3. The Model 3 sells for the same price as the Bolt, gets about the same miles-per-charge, but looks fantastic and is a state of the art vehicle. As of May 2016 Tesla said they received pre-orders for 373,000 cars. I think they took a $1,000 deposit per pre-order.

Even if half the pre-orders never materialize, that’s still an astounding 186,000 Teslas vs. only 7,600 Chevys. It makes sense to assume all the early adopters interested in the Bolt already bought theirs. The outlook for Chevy selling many Bolts is grim.

This isn’t hard to understand. If GM were going to sell a new state-of-the-art car, assigning it to their bottom-of-the-barrel division was stupid. A BMW or Mercedes or Audi buyer would not get a Chevy. But they would certainly consider a Tesla. It’s not just status – if you compare the cars, the Bolt is clearly the ugly step sister. Given that they cost the same, the choice couldn’t be clearer.

I don’t know whether to be happy about this or not. On the one hand it’s good that Chevy failed with the Bolt, because other car companies need to know not to devote resources if you don’t have a clue what will sell and what won’t. But on the other hand I want cars made better, and Chevy’s failures with the Volt, and now the Bolt, may suppress development of updated technology. Car companies don’t want to emulate Chevy and may be unwilling to risk failure by taking a leading role.

I guess the bottom line is this – if you are a car company and can’t figure out what a good car is, then get out of the business.

 

 

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