Mary Barra Hints Chevy Bolt Could Return On Ultium Platform

Mary Barra, CEO of Common Motors, sat down for an in-depth interview with Kai Ryssdal, the very long time host of American Public Media’s Market Report, a half hour present that focuses on monetary issues. Usually, the present contains a collection of snippets about how numerous corporations are negotiating the crosscurrents of the monetary world, however on this case, nearly the complete present was dedicated to Barra and her stewardship of GM in the course of the turbulence created by the changeover to constructing electrical automobiles — just like the Chevy Bolt.

As most readers know, GM has introduced it would cease manufacturing the Bolt this summer season. Sometimes within the automotive enterprise, factories shut down for a couple of weeks in late July or early August for annual upkeep and to be reconfigured for adjustments to the fashions they produce that can be coming within the subsequent mannequin 12 months.

The time main as much as the annual manufacturing unit shutdown is known as “build-out” within the business. Often, an organization is not going to settle for orders for brand spanking new automobiles if their manufacture can’t be accomplished earlier than the top of the present 12 months’s manufacturing run. In truth, there are reviews floating across the web about prospects who had ordered a Chevy Bolt being knowledgeable (and none to politely) that their orders have been cancelled.

Presumably, the computer systems that schedule the sequence of producing on the manufacturing unit determined the orders couldn’t be accomplished by the point build-out happens this 12 months. Since there can be no Chevy Bolt manufacturing the next mannequin 12 months, there was no various however to say, “Thanks for your enterprise however we aren’t making that automotive anymore. Sorry.” Effectively, with out the “Sorry” half, on this case.

A number of years in the past, earlier than the Tesla Mannequin 3 was launched, my spouse and I took half in what was referred to as the International EV Street Journey, organized by supporters of the EV revolution who needed to introduce the thought of driving an electrical automotive to the United Arab Emirates. We flew to Dubai, the place we spent a number of days driving a number of EVs, together with a couple of Mannequin S sedans, a Mannequin X, a BMW i3, and a Chevy Bolt.

On the finish of the tour, my spouse and I agreed that, if it have been our cash, we might purchase a Bolt. The Mannequin S was just too dear for our funds (no person ever received wealthy writing for an web weblog) and too huge. We’re lifelong Honda Civic, Saturn SL2 sort of individuals. Whereas the Teslas have been fairly spectacular, they have been too massive for our tastes. The i3 merely didn’t have sufficient vary for our wants. We each agreed that whereas the Bolt, whereas critically missing in inside appointments, could be a superb automotive for us if we determined to go electrical.

Chevy Bolt & The Ultium Platform

Chevy Bolt

Brasil estabelece recorde international de autonomia do Bolt EUV

Barra advised Ryssdal in the course of the interview that the Chevy Bolt was constructed on the GM’s second era electrical automotive platform. Since then, GM has developed its third era platform, which it has dubbed Ultium. “The distinction between our second era and third era expertise, which is Ultium, is a 40% discount in battery value, and we’re leveraging the names of our automobiles which are higher recognized within the business,” Barra defined. “Individuals who drive an Equinox right now will perceive what an Equinox EV delivers to them.”

Then Barra expanded on that to say the Chevy Bolt “is one thing that has constructed up loads of loyalty and fairness. So, I can’t say as a result of I don’t focus on product packages, however…that’s an necessary automobile in our portfolio.” Does that imply we may even see a subsequent era Chevy Bolt constructed on the extremely versatile Ultium platform? That’s as much as you to determine as you parse her phrases for your self.

A New Chevy Bolt?

Okay, Mary Barra was being coy, however her remarks actually recommend a subsequent era Chevy Bolt could also be within the pipeline. And why not? Ultium, just like the MEB EV platform that underpins each Volkswagen ID.-branded electrical automotive to this point, is infinitely versatile. The wheelbase may be stretched or shortened as wanted. It may be made wider or narrower. It might have completely different wheelbases for various automobiles. And most significantly for electrical automobiles, it may well have as massive or as small a battery pack as is required to satisfy the wants of assorted vehicles.

The Ultium platform right now is the premise for the Hummer EV, the Silverado EV, and the Cadillac Lyriq. It is going to quickly be the platform for the upcoming Equinox EV and Blazer EV. Does that imply it might additionally work for an up to date Chevy Bolt? That’s a particular perhaps.

A GM Historical past Lesson

GM has spent a substantial period of time smoothing and sprucing the Chevy Bolt. It has added a barely bigger, extra SUV-like model referred to as the Bolt EUV. I’ve a neighbor who owns a Bolt EUV and drives it forwards and backwards from Ohio to Florida regularly. My colleague Jennifer Sensiba has one as nicely. Each report being fairly happy with their vehicles.

A Chevy Bolt isn’t an Audi, a BMW, or a Tesla. It’s what it’s, as Invoice Belichick likes to say. I drove a Saturn SL2 sedan for numerous years. It was no autocross hero, nor did it have the swagger of a Mercedes. But it surely served my wants very nicely at a worth I might afford with out making me a slave to an enormous month-to-month automotive cost.

America wants an electrical automotive like that. GM has already invested within the tooling for the Chevy Bolt. If the corporate was to carry it again on the Ultium platform, it might amortize that tooling over a for much longer lifespan and provide one thing that nobody else is providing in the mean time — an entry stage electrical automotive that’s large enough, with sufficient vary, and inexpensive sufficient to satisfy the wants of those that wish to drive on electrons as an alternative of molecules whereas not breaking the financial institution.

GM has a historical past of getting vehicles excellent after which pulling the plug (no pun meant). Consider the Corvair that began life as a slightly dowdy automotive that received a midlife makeover right into a svelte and classy automobile. It received the ax. As Autoblog talked about in a narrative about Mary Barra and her Chevy Bolt non-announcement, GM even rolled out a battery-powered Corvair in 1966 dubbed the Electrovair.

GM has a litany of comparable tales. The Pontiac Fiero additionally began life as an unsightly duckling that later blossomed right into a swan. It received axed. The Cadillac Allante had a stunning physique designed by PininFarina, however a lump of an engine. When it lastly received the engine it deserved — the Northstar V8 — it was discontinued.

We’ve no method of figuring out if a revamped Chevy Bolt is unquestionably within the playing cards, however we hope GM doesn’t repeat its previous errors. America wants inexpensive EVs. If GM doesn’t construct them, another person will. Proper now, GM might have a primary mover benefit earlier than Tesla figures it out and earlier than the Chinese language learn to crack the US market. It is a golden alternative for GM — in the event that they don’t blow it.


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