Going Green: Chevy Doubles Down on Volt’s Failure with New 2016 ‘Bolt’

Michael Schaus
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Posted: Jan 14, 2015 12:01 AM
Going Green: Chevy Doubles Down on Volt’s Failure with New 2016 ‘Bolt’

Allow me to introduce the Chevy Bolt: An all-electric vehicle capable of 200 miles per charge, for under $40,000… If that kinda feels like you’ve heard it before, that’s because you probably have. Remember when the Chevy Volt was first introduced to the public? It was originally going to be an all-electric vehicle. But this time Chevy means it. For reals.

The Chevy Volt also got a boost to its reputation during the 2015 North American International Auto Show when it announced the 2016 model will have an extra 50 miles added to its range, with an even smaller battery. That spontaneous combustion thingy might also have been addressed, but I didn’t check.

However, their new 2016 Chevy Bolt (clever, GM… very clever) is designed as an answer to Elon Musk’s all electric Tesla. The base model will begin around $30,000 compared to Tesla’s $69,000 beginning price point. According to the Wall Street Journal:

General Motors Co. unveiled plans for a $30,000 electric vehicle called the Chevrolet Bolt that would be capable of driving 200 miles on a charge by 2017, a move to gain ground on Tesla Motors Inc.

Well… Good luck GM. I mean, something tells me the Chevy Volt Bolt is about half the cost of a Tesla's flagship model for a reason. After all, Tesla seems to pretty much know who their customers are. More than simply being an electric vehicle for California liberals with short commutes, they are a luxury brand. There’s generally a reason people pay $100,000 for a luxury vehicle, and only about $30,000 for a run of the mill GM. The same will hold true in the land of spontaneously combusting electric vehicles.

Besides, Tesla knows what it is. It’s a status symbol for the enviro with cash to burn. The Volt, by comparison, is a status symbol for someone who wants to overpay for a car with 38MPG equivalent. And the Bolt seems to be a nice little status symbol for enviros on a budget, who want to show the world that they support the coal industry. Oh yeah, didn’t you know: Most electricity in the US is produced by coal. (And, let’s be honest, lithium-ion batteries aren’t exactly fashioned together in a US plant using hamster wheels for power generation.) According to CNBC:

"It's kind of hard to beat gasoline" for public and environmental health, said study co-author Julian Marshall, an engineering professor at the University of Minnesota. "A lot of the technologies that we think of as being clean ... are not better than gasoline."

See? I’m being responsible with my Jeep Rubicon. (I should also note that the study did not take into account how many dead eagles there are from wind power… I’m kinda curious to see what the Chevy Bolt’s miles per eagle ratio turns out to be.)

Of course, for $30,000 it might still be an efficient choice for folks who are tired of enriching all those evil oil companies, right? Well… Hang on. We don’t actually know what the production cost of the Bolt will end up proving to be, but if it’s anything like other similarly priced electric vehicles it will likely be subsidized by all those folks who decide to buy the traditional gas guzzlers. The CEO of Chrysler was has been begging his customers to stop purchasing the electric Fiat 500e, because it costs his company $14,000 every time someone drives one off the lot.

But, this is Government Motors… Living up to their nickname, revenue streams apparently don’t actually mater. Market forces, after all, too often get in the way of feeding the environmentalist message. In short, the Chevy Volt is another Leftist excursion into feel-good cronyism, rather than actual business stewardship. After all, where is the real market here? About 15 people in Boulder, Colorado? The bestselling vehicle in America is a longtime favorite: The gas-guzzling Ford F-150. (I don’t think those come in all electric models yet.) Over 60,000 Ford F-150’s rolled off dealer’s lots each month, compared to Tesla’s roughly 17,000 models per year. Maybe, and I realize I’m not an automobile CEO, but maybe GM should try to encroach on that corner of the market?

Look, the truth is that Americans only kinda like fuel efficient vehicles… There are things beyond coal-powered Lithium batteries that tend to attract consumers. In fact, to the untrained eye, the Volt’s sales figures pretty much resemble what the average person would consider “an unmitigated disaster”. Most businesses, after three plus years of abysmal sales, would sack the creative team responsible for pitching the idea, as well as the dreamy eyed managers who gave the disaster a “thumbs up”… GM, on the other hand, has decided to change a letter in the name, and roll forward with their concept.

Will the Chevy Bolt be the first mainstream electric car? Well… No. But it might make the Chevy Volt look positively brilliant by comparison. (And that’s a pretty big accomplishment.)