With Silverado EV delayed, GM should extend the life of the Bolt

This week, GM said it’s pushing back Silverado EV production at its Orion plant by a year; which gives it a perfect opportunity to extend the life of the Bolt in its best year of sales yet.

The announcement came Tuesday, with GM stating that planned production of the Silverado EV at its Orion plant would be delayed by a year “to better manage capital investment while aligning with evolving EV demand.” It’s still going forward with Silverado production at Factory Zero, but Orion plans have been pushed back.

The quote suggests that GM isn’t sure about EV truck demand, seeing that Ford recently cut a shift from its F-150 Lightning production plant.

However, Rivian is still growing quickly and beating expectations selling electric trucks, so maybe there’s another underlying problem for incumbent automakers. Also, GM and Ford are both currently facing a strike from UAW, which may continue if automakers remain hesitant to offer workers a fair deal.

But what does all this have to do with the Bolt, you ask?

Well, the Bolt is produced in the same plant, GM’s Orion Assembly in Lake Orion, Michigan, that GM had planned to convert to SIlverado EV production. That’s why the Bolt is going out of production – to make room for new lines that incorporate GM’s new Ultium battery platform, which the Bolt doesn’t use as it predates that platform. Since the Bolt is on old technology, GM plans to retire it (though after much urging, GM said it would make an Ultium-based Bolt).

But the Bolt is also having its best year yet, already having sold a record number of cars this year with another quarter yet to go. And despite higher production than ever, it’s still sold out everywhere, because it’s a fantastic deal at a base MSRP of $26k. It is also good enough to win Electrek’s Vehicle of the Year award in this last year of its existence.

So it was good news when GM decided to continue production through December, but now that the plant won’t start building Silverados for another year, why not extend the Bolt even longer?

Surely tooling for the Silverado will take some time so GM won’t get a full extra year of production out of the Bolt, but they’ve already got the lines running for the Bolt, so why not keep them running for a few months longer? And let a few tens of thousands of EV fans get access to a great deal on a car that’s been hard to find all year.

This would require a lot of coordination with suppliers on GM’s part, who have already extended a date once. So it’s not as easy as just continuing to run the lines, but we still think there’s a valuable end goal here, in letting more people get access to a great car and showing how great and affordable EVs can be.

We’d love to see more Bolts out there, both because it’s a great car (though with the one major downside of slow 50kW DC charging) and because it’s a fantastic deal. And if GM did continue production through next year, that deal would be even better given the planned improvement to the Federal EV tax credit.

Next year, the credit will be available upfront at the point-of-sale, which means buyers won’t have to wait until filing their taxes to get the refund anymore. It also means that low- and middle-income buyers can benefit from the full credit, instead of having that amount reduced if they don’t have $7,500 in total tax liability.

Both of these aspects would combine to make the Bolt, currently the most affordable EV and one of the most affordable new cars of any type on the road, an even more fantastic deal for more people. If new Bolts were still available in 2024 at a starting price of ~$19k (and even less after some state rebates), it would really make a statement about the affordability of EVs in general.

And so, we think this is an excellent chance for GM to extend the life of the best deal in EVs (and, honestly, in the whole auto industry), and their best-selling EV, in its best-selling year, going into a time that would be particularly advantageous for a value EV, in a plant that it doesn’t seem like it will be using anyway. Pretty please, GM?

If you’re looking to take advantage of the best deal in EVs right now before it goes out of production (though we hope it doesn’t…), you can use our links to contact your local dealers about the 2023 Chevy Bolt EV or 2023 Chevy Bolt EUV, and see if they have any left in stock.

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