GM Considers Sharing Chevy Bolt Between Dealers

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

The latest from Detroit has General Motors considering tweaking its delivery strategy for electric vehicles. While this appears to tangentially fall into the industry trend of trying to shove EVs into an online sales model, GM’s plan is distinctive and would introduce centralized inventory lots for the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt ( hatchback and EUV) before Christmas. But we can already see the dual-sized nature of the plan that will be used to promote and condemn it, should things move forward.

General Motors could be seen as throwing dealerships a bone by finding a way for those located in areas where EV buyers are less prevalent to provide their customers with electrified options. This saves them from having to prep their lots for charging and making space for vehicles people might not bother buying until the technology has further matured. However, with industry giants (including GM) vowing to continue making more of their lineup battery-powered, dealers might also view this as a coy way for the manufacturer to obtain more control over retail operations. Other manufacturers have already explained that they want to prioritize online sales of electric automobiles, with the end result likely mimicking the Tesla sales model … something that doesn’t include traditional dealerships.

Automotive News, which first reported GM pondering the delivery plan, described it as “a page out of Amazon’s playbook.” It also added that the strategy would be worked into the manufacturer’s broader ambition of digitizing both product and sales.

From AN:

GM plans to launch at least 30 EVs globally by mid-decade, including 20 in North America, and it’s targeting a zero-emission lineup of light vehicles by 2035. As the automaker outlines significant EV promises, executives are calling for a change in the retail model to cut out unnecessary costs and improve customer experience.

At least initially, customers who want to purchase an electric GMC Hummer pickup or Cadillac Lyriq, both due within the next year, will make a reservation with GM before connecting with a dealership. The automaker has also launched a tool for dealers to more easily track inventory from the plant to their stores and plans to implement a Tekion-powered digital retail tool for EVs as soon as this summer.

The Bolt pools would push GM further into using its EV goals to reshape dealership operations within the limitations of state franchise laws.

The company has previously suggested that it wanted to introduce a new retail platform for EVs But GM indicated that nothing has been decided. Though a verdict on the Bolts would need to be reached relatively quickly since they’re arriving this summer and the plan calls for having dedicated lots before year’s end.

“EV inventory pools are just one of the ideas we’re investigating, working closely with our dealer councils, to support the expansion of EVs,” explained a GM spokesperson.

[Images: General Motors]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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2 of 17 comments
  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Mar 23, 2021

    Dealers have traditionally been used by the factory as a production shock absorber...the factory has to run at a set speed, but demand fluctuates. The OEM can push that off on dealers, making them take stock, "Sales Bank", or encouraging sales of particular models....the Tesla Model does not have that shock absorber built in....

  • Akear Akear on Mar 25, 2021

    The Bolt continues to be GM worst selling passenger sedan. There are big problems for GM's electric vehicle push if they can barely move 20,000 Bolts a year. Does anyone here really believe GM will ever sell 10,000 EV hummers a year.

  • MaintenanceCosts So this is really just a restyled VW Fox. Craptacular tin can but fun to drive in a "makes ordinary traffic seem like a NASCAR race" kind of way.
  • THX1136 While reading the article a thought crossed my mind. Does Mexico have a fairly good charging infrastructure in place? Knowing that it is a bit poorer economy than the US relatively speaking, that thought along with who's buying came to mind.
  • Lou_BC Maybe if I ever buy a new car or CUV
  • Lou_BC How about telling China and Mexico, we'll accept 1 EV for every illegal you take off our hands ;)
  • Analoggrotto The original Tassos was likely conceived in one of these.