Production for the model year 2017 began in November 2016. The European version began production in February 2017. U.S. sales began in California in December 2016, with nationwide US and Canadian release in 2017.
Alan Batey, head of General Motors North America, announced in February 2015 that the Bolt EV was headed for production, and would be available in all 50 states. GM also has plans to sell the Bolt in select global markets.
In January 2016, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the production version of the Chevrolet Bolt was unveiled. At the show, during GM CEO Mary Barra's keynote, Chevrolet confirmed an estimated range of 200 miles (320 km) or more, around US$30,000 price after government incentives, and stated it would be available in late 2016. Barra projected in February 2016 that the European version, marketed as the Opel Ampera-e (or Vauxhall Ampera-e in the United Kingdom), would enter production in 2017.
In March 2016, GM released photos and a short pre-production video of the Bolt at the company's Orion Assembly plant outside Detroit, testing manufacturing and tooling.
The car's user interface was developed in Israel.
An unnamed source cited by Bloomberg News estimates that General Motors is expected to take a loss of between US$8,000 and US$9,000 per Bolt sold. A GM spokesman first declined to comment on the expected profitability. Opel refuted that in December 2016 and states that GM has battery cell costs of $130/kWh, and industry is not yet optimized for mass production. A UBS teardown in 2017 suggested slightly smaller losses per vehicle, of $7418 on a base spec, or $5520 on a higher spec vehicle. They estimate that by 2025 the Bolt will make a profit of about $6000 per vehicle.
Final assembly takes place at GM's Orion Assembly plant in Orion Township, Michigan, which received a US$160 million upgrade for Bolt production. Manufacture of the battery, motor, and drive unit started in August 2016 at LG, Incheon, South Korea.
Analysts expected Bolt production at 22,000 per year, and Ampera-e at a few thousand. Production may increase to 30,000 to 50,000 per year according to demand. Initial regular production had begun by early November 2016 at a rate of 9 per hour, gradually increasing to 30/hour. Retail deliveries began in California in December 2016.[needs update]
Regular production was expected to begin in October 2016 at 25,000-30,000 the first year.
The EPA classifies the Bolt as "small station wagon", with less than 130 cu ft of interior volume. GM refers to the Bolt as a crossover. The passenger volume is 94 cu ft (2,700 L), and cargo space is 17 cu ft (480 L) (381 liter).
The Bolt's battery uses "nickel-rich lithium-ion" chemistry, allowing the cells to run at higher temperatures than those in GM's previous electric vehicles, allowing a simpler and cheaperliquid cooling system for the 60 kWh (220 MJ) battery pack. The battery pack is a stressed member and weighs 960 lb (440 kg). It accounts for 23% of the car's value, and is composed of 288 flat "landscape" format cells. Cells are bundled into groups of three connected in parallel, and 96 groups connected in series compose the pack. The battery is rated at 60 kW power to avoid limiting the 150 kW/340 Nm motor. GM offers a battery warranty of 8 years / 100,000 miles (160,000 km), and has no plans for other battery sizes.
In October 2015, General Motors said they will purchase the Bolt's battery cells at a price of $145 per kilowatt hour from LG Chem, representing a minimum of $8,700 in revenue per car. The cost is reportedly about $100 cheaper per kWh than the price LG was giving other customers at the time. GM estimated a cell price of $130/kWh in December 2016.
While initially expected to share its lithium-ion battery technology with the second generation Chevrolet Volt, the production version of the Bolt uses batteries with a different chemistry more suited to the different charge cycles of a long-range electric vehicle, compared to the more frequent charging/discharging of hybrids and short-range EVs.
The 2020 model year will have the battery capacity increased to 66 kWh, because of a small change made to the battery chemistry, that increases the EPA rated range by 21 miles (34 km).
Other specifications include a 200 hp (149 kW) and 266 lb⋅ft (361 N⋅m) Interior Permanent Magnet electric motor, acceleration from 0–30 mph (0–48 km/h) in 2.9 seconds and 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in less than 7 seconds, and a top speed of 91 mph (146 km/h). The electric motor is integrated with a single-speed transmission and differential, to form a single modular drive unit that connects directly to the front axles. The single-speed transmission has a final drive ratio of 7.05:1.
Body and chassis
The Bolt EV is tall hatchback design, with a curb weight of 3,580 pounds (1,625 kg). Despite its overall height of nearly 63 inches (1.6 meters), the center of gravity is under 21 inches (53 cm) above the ground, yielding surprisingly stable handling during cornering. The low center of gravity is due to under-floor mounting of the battery pack, following the lead of Tesla's Model S.
Bolt uses the now-common kammback/hatchback low-drag body design, with sweeping curves leading to an abrupt back end. It was initially reported to have a drag coefficient of Cd=0.32 but GM says the final production vehicle has Cd=0.308.
The Bolt EV has a combined EPA-rated range of 238 miles (383 km). For city driving, the EPA rated the Bolt range at 255 miles (410 km), and due to its relative high drag coefficient, its range for highway driving is 217 miles (349 km). One Bolt owner was able to drive from McHenry, Maryland in the western part of the state to Ocean City, Maryland, a distance of 313 miles (504 km), on a single charge.
As of July 2017, the Bolt was the only plug-in electric car with a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of less than US$50,000 capable of delivering an EPA-rated range of over 200 miles (320 km). All other electric cars below that price threshold and available for retail sales fell under that range, except the Tesla Model 3, which can go 220 to 325 miles (354 to 523 km) on a single charge. Among other all-electric series production cars sold in the U.S., the Tesla Model S sedan and Model X crossover can go more than 250 and 370 miles (400 and 600 km).
All models of Bolt support standard SAE EV charging plugs, at Level 1 or Level 2 (AC). A factory option supports Level 3 (rapid DC) charging with the SAE Combo DC system. A portable Level 1 charging adapter is supplied with each Bolt, stowed in a special compartment under the hatchback floor. It is UL Listed to operate at 120vac in the US market but is capable of operating at 240 VAC.
Level 1 (110VAC) charging supplies roughly 1 kW and adds 3–5 miles (5–8 km) of range per hour of charging. Level 2 (240VAC) charging supplies up to 7.2 kW and adds 20–30 miles (30–50 km) of range per hour of charging. Level 3 charging with the factory-option 55 kW SAE Combo DC fast charging system can add 150 miles (240 km) of range. The Bolt user manual suggests fast-charging to only 80% charge to ensure consistent 50 kW charging. The fast charge rate steps down to 38kw at 56% charge and again to 24kw at 68% charge. Above 85%, the charge rate varies from 16kw to 0kw.
The Bolt EV is delivered with self-sealing tires whose interior surfaces are coated with a sticky compound to automatically seal small leaks and punctures in the tread area. There is no spare tire, nor is there (officially) a place to store one. The car is equipped with a digital Tire Pressure Monitoring System to warn the driver if a tire is leaking, and a portable air compressor kit is supplied as an optional part. Under the rear hatchback cargo deck, there is a space that can be used to store an undersized spare, and some owners carry a compatible Chevy Cruze spare tire there.
The production version of the Opel Ampera-e debuted at the 2016 Paris Motor Show.
The EPA-rated range of 238 miles (383 km) was confirmed by automotive reporters driving a preproduction Bolt with a 60-kWh battery. Driven under different driving modes with the air conditioning on, the trip between Monterey and Santa Barbara was completed with an energy consumption of 50.1 kWh, representing an average efficiency of 4.8 miles per kWh (12.9 kWh/100 km). A total of 237.8 miles (382.7 km) were driven, with the Bolt's display showing 34 miles (55 km) of range remaining. Several other journalists conducted a preproduction Bolt test drive on the same route, and all reported similar results regarding the Bolt EPA-estimated range.
As part of its debut at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, Opel reported driving an Ampera-e without recharging from Piccadilly Circus in London to Porte de Versailles in Paris, the venue of the exhibition. The rebadged Bolt traveled 259 miles (417 km) with 50 miles (80 km) of range remaining.
Markets and sales
Deliveries of the Bolt EV began in the U.S. in December 2016.
Ordering began in California and Oregon in mid-October 2016. The first three Bolts were delivered in the San Francisco Bay Area on December 13, 2016, and a total of 579 units were delivered in 2016. Availability was rolled out gradually across the United States, and by August 2017 the car was available nationwide.
Demand profile did not exactly match predictions, leading GM to slow production in July 2017. However, in the last months of 2017 Bolt demand rose rapidly; by October, it outsold any other model of electric car, including those from Tesla. Sales totaled 23,297 units in 2017, making the Bolt the U.S. second best selling plug-in car in 2017 after the Tesla Model S (≈26,500). In California, the Bolt listed as the top selling plug-in car with 13,487 units delivered, ahead of the Tesla Model S, listed second with 11,813. The Bolt also led the state's subcompact segment in 2017, with a market share of 14.7% of all new cars sold in this category. As of February 2018[update], cumulative sales in the American market totaled 26,477 units.
In January 2019, GM reported that 2018 US sales for the Bolt totaled 18,019, down 22% from the previous year. (US sales of the Tesla Model 3, on the other hand, jumped from 1,764 in 2017 to 139,782 in 2018.) The combined sales of the Bolt and Volt also triggered the start of the full $7,500 tax credit phase out in Q4 2018, prompting the tax credit to reduce to $3,750 in April 2019 and $1,875 in October 2019 before disappearing entirely April 2020.
The Bolt has been available in Canada since the beginning of 2017. A total of 2,122 Bolt EVs were sold in Canada in 2017.
Opel Ampera-e in Oslo
The Ampera-e launch in the Norwegian market was scheduled for April 2017, when 13 were registered. Deliveries to retail customers began on May 17, 2017. Over 4,000 cars were ordered in Norway, with some to be delivered in 2018. Registrations totaled 1,121 units in 2017.
In South Korea, General Motors opened the order books on March 18, 2017, and all 400 units of the first allotment were sold out in 2 hours.
European discontinuation controversy
In October 2017, European dealers were asked to completely stop accepting orders for the Ampera-e (known as the Chevy Bolt in the USA), reportedly because of supply problems, at the point when in the nation of Norway (which has a population of only 5.2 million, smaller than Minnesota's) 4,000-5,000 people had already ordered the car. At that time the Bolt was offered for sale in Norway at a price of $35,000, not significantly higher than that of the Nissan Leaf, despite both its range and battery capacity being at least 50% higher than the Leaf's.
The fact that GM was limiting deliveries of the Bolt to Norway, its most promising market, in 2017 led to suspicions that GM was going to "kill" the model in Europe. No new Bolts could be ordered in Norway after 2017, and deliveries to Norway completely ceased in 2018. GM has been accused of purposefully sabotaging its own EV programme in the past.
In 2018, it was virtually impossible to order the car in Europe (though in November 2018, it was reported to be on sale in the Netherlands at a price of $53,000). Statistics show that, as of February 2019, a total of less than 5,000 Bolts were ever delivered in the entirety of Europe. The new owner of the Opel brand offered the Opel Crossland X, a gasoline- or diesel-powered car with styling mildly reminiscent of the Bolt, to the customers, and suggested it's going to make two EVs based on the Opel Corsa and the Peugeot 208 (both being low-powered cars of smaller interior volume than the Bolt).
In late 2018, about a year after Norwegians were prevented from ordering more Bolts, a close competitor, the Hyundai Kona EV (with a 64 kWh battery), was offered for sale there. The entire yearly allotment of the cars was sold out almost instantly.
In 2015, Chevrolet acknowledged confusion between two vehicles with a similar-sounding names; Bolt and Volt.
Chevrolet's marketing chief, Tim Mahoney, subsequently announced GM would keep the Bolt name.
Autoblog projected similar confusion among European customers where the Opel Ampera-e (the Bolt variant) is just one letter off from the Opel Ampera, the previous-generation Chevrolet Volt sold in Europe—suggesting the names could confuse customers who think the new all-electric hatchback is closely related to the old plug-in hybrid hatchback.
Tata Motors has had a car named the Bolt on the market since 2014, and has registered the trademark in India and other countries.