Skip to main content

GM Restarts Output of Tesla Killer (a Bolt From the Blue?)

General Motors has just restarted production of one of its first electric vehicles meant to compete with Tesla.
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

GM  (GM) - Get Free Report knows that in the race for electric vehicles, every decision counts. The Detroit giant also knows that big announcements aren't enough; it must back them with actions. 

The automaker is determined to catch up to its two main electric-vehicle rivals, Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Free Report and Ford  (F) - Get Free Report, which seem to have taken a good lead. 

In the first quarter, Tesla delivered 310,048 EVs worldwide and produced 305,407. As for Ford, the company reported a record 38% jump in EV sales for Q1 compared with the year-earlier period. The carmaker sold 6,734 of the electric-SUV Mustang Mach-E, while GM sold just 457 electric vehicles in the first three months.

GM is doing its utmost to bump up its numbers. The automotive group started production of the Lyriq electric SUV last month, the first EV from its premium brand, Cadillac. The production ramp-up of the GMC Hummer electric pickup is also underway. And now GM just restarted a new old product.

The Chevy Bolt EV Is Back

The firm will resume manufacturing the Chevy Bolt -- the Bolt EV sedan and the Bolt EV SUV. The automaker had suspended production of this model, initially presented as the anti-Tesla weapon, last September for a battery problem.

"We are very excited to restart production and we’ll continue to balance new-vehicle production with recall repairs," Daniel Flores, a spokesperson, told TheStreet in an email statement.

GM has decided to pull out all the stops to relaunch the Bolt. 

The company is launching a major national television advertising campaign around the model. During the baseball season opener, GM's ad will let consumers know that the Chevy Bolt is back. 

What's particularly interesting is that GM will launch the Bolt campaign the same day that Tesla and CEO Elon Musk are throwing a massive party in Austin for the opening of that company's fourth production plant. 

"We think we have a lot of interest and awareness for this," Steve Majoros, vice president of Chevrolet marketing, told the media. "I think it's just going to continue with our advertising efforts."

Optimism and Investigation

GM started to sell the Chevy Bolt EV in 2016 and the Bolt EUV in 2021. The company delivered 24,828 Chevrolet Bolt cars in 2021, up 20% from 2020, despite the recall. The end of the year was disastrous for the Bolt, whose design has evolved quite a bit. Only 25 cars were sold in the fourth quarter, compared with 6,701 vehicles a year earlier.

The company delivered 358 Bolts in the first quarter.

"We see record numbers of sales and production for 2022 and we see 2023 being bigger than 2022," Majoros said. " We are bullish on both EV and EUV."

The Bolt, which was GM's only electric model marketed in the U.S. until the end of last year, will share its production site, the Orion assembly plant, with two new GM electric models. 

The automaker said in January that it was going to invest $4 billion to build electric versions of its bestselling pickups, the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra, by 2024, in its plant in Orion Township, Mich.

The company halted production of the Bolt in September while it worked to replace defective batteries in cars that it had already sold. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating battery maker LG Energy Solution because of fires in the vehicles.

The Bolt is GM's mass-market electric car aimed to compete with the Tesla Model 3. Presented in 2016 as the car that would enable GM to catch up with Tesla in the EV market, the Bolt immediately won over the media. 

From headlines to awards, the car racked up accolades. Motor Trend crowned it "Car of the Year 2017" because "Chevy changes the game. Again."