Hoping to regain momentum after an embarrassing recall and a 9-month production stop, Chevrolet is slashing the price of its Bolt battery-electric models by up to 18%, or as much as $6,300.
That means buyers can get into the original Chevy Bolt EV for as little as $26,595 for the 2023 model year. While not all its competitors have weighed in yet, that appears likely to position it as the lowest-priced battery-electric vehicle in the U.S., according to several industry analysts. The larger Bolt EUV will start at $28,195 — both figures including $995 in delivery fees.
“This change reflects our ongoing desire to make sure Bolt EV/EUV are competitive in the marketplace,” GM said in a statement, adding “affordability has always been a priority for these vehicles.”
Early success short-circuited by reports of fire risk
The Bolt EV was General Motors’ first long-range battery-electric vehicle when it was launched in 2016. It initially featured a 60 kilowatt-hour battery pack capable of delivering an EPA-estimated 238 miles per charge. The pack was increased to 66 kWh in 2020, bringing range to 259 miles for the Bolt EV hatchback. The more SUV-like Bolt EUV gets 247 miles per charge.
Those numbers initially helped position Bolt as one of the nation’s best-selling BEVs, behind only the various Tesla offerings. But that was before federal regulators began looking into reports that some of the Chevy models were catching fire — often while charging. As the number of incidents increased, GM last year decided to put production on hold while ordering a recall for 141,000 Bolts built through the 2022 model year.
Since production resumed in March, sales have only slowly begun to rebound. Meanwhile, GM has been putting more emphasis on a new wave of EVs it plans to bring to market — a total of 30 by mid-decade.
Price cuts were expected — just not yet
That rollout began with the big GMC Hummer EV late in 2021. On Wednesday, it unveiled the Wildcat concept for the Buick brand, with a production version expected to follow. It is readying Cadillac’s all-new Lyriq crossover to go on sale in the coming weeks and will follow in 2023 with the Chevrolet Silverado EV pickup.
While many of those models target high-end market segments, GM also is looking at entry-level niches. CEO Mary Barra recently indicated an all-electric version of the Chevy Equinox crossover will start at just above $30,000.
Sam Abuelsamid, the principal auto analyst with Guidehouse Insights, said “it seemed obvious” GM would eventually cut the price of the Bolt EV and EUV models to slot below the Equinox. “But if they hadn’t had the recall and production stop, they probably would have waited for the Equinox to launch.”
Bolt will be America’s lowest-priced BEV
For 2023, the Bolt EV will have a starting price of $26,595, a $5,900 decrease from the 2022 model year. The bigger Bolt EUV will start at $28,195, a discount of $6,300.
That will undercut the Nissan Leaf, currently the lowest-priced BEV available in the U.S. It starts at $27,400 — before factoring in delivery fees — and, in Leaf S trim, manages only 150 miles per charge.
According to Chevrolet spokesman Shad Balch the price cut “better aligns” the two Bolt models with market expectations.
Analyst Abuelsamid says the move could help GM kick start demand for the two BEVs. And GM, he added, could use a boost right now. It doesn’t have enough of its new battery models in production to meet the increasingly strict zero-emissions vehicle targets set by the State of California. If it falls short the company could face hefty fines.