On an earnings call with investors, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said the company plans to cease production of the Chevy Bolt EV and EUV by the end of 2023. Between them, the models account for most of GM's EV sales and the company plans to make more than 70,000 of them this year — that marks a record rate of production, according to CNBC.
However, the Bolt's battery cells are based on an older design and GM is transitioning to its Ultium system. According to Barra, GM will modify a Detroit-area plant where it makes the Chevy Bolts so it can produce the electric Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra there starting in 2024.
The Bolt's battery system has led to some serious problems for GM in the past. In 2021, GM recalled every Bolt it had ever made to that point due to a battery manufacturing defect that posed a fire risk. The company spent some $1.8 billion to resolve the issues.
Considering GM's plan to switch entirely to EVs by 2035, it makes sense to use the same battery tech across all of its models to help it ramp up the pace of production. After the Michigan plant has been retrofitted and reaches full production, GM expects that it will be able to build 600,000 electric trucks per year. The company has a production target of 2 million EVs per year between the US and China.
The timing of the move may be a slightly risky one for the company. The Bolt, which arrived in 2016, is the most affordable option for a new EV from a major automaker. Last year, GM lowered the starting price of the 2023 Bolt EV to $26,595, plus a $995 destination fee. The relative affordability has helped GM achieve three consecutive quarters of record Bolt EV and EUV deliveries, Barra said in a letter to shareholders.
GM says it delivered more than 20,000 EVs last quarter, which is a far cry from the 422,000 vehicles Tesla delivered in Q1. Although GM is now in second place in the US EV market, it has quite a way to go before it can catch up to Tesla. The Equinox EV, which is slated to arrive in the fall, is expected to start at around $30,000, which could help its prospects.
“When the Chevrolet Bolt EV launched, it was a huge technical achievement and the first affordable EV, which set in motion GM’s all-electric future,” Chevy spokesman Cody Williams told CNBC in a statement. “Chevrolet will launch several new EVs later this year based on the Ultium platform in key segments, including the Silverado EV, Blazer EV and Equinox EV. ”