By on February 4, 2022

The all-electric Chevy Bolt has had a rough go over the last year, falling victim to battery troubles which led General Motors to halt production and recall every single copy they’ve ever built so they could stuff the things full of new electrons because of a fire risk.

Alert readers will know those recalled battery packs are different than GM’s own Ultium product, tech that’s finding its way into all forward-looking EVs from The General. This makes the Bolt something of an outlier and, after hearing remarks from Mary Barra in this week’s GM earnings call, probably a dead car walking.

At CES earlier this year, GM surprised industry watchers with news of a new Equinox EV, one which will be built with Ultium bones and cost around $30,000. This already encroaches on Bolt (and the strangely-named Bolt EUV) territory in terms of price but, if we’re reading the tea leaves correctly, there will be even further incursions into the Bolt’s space.

Speaking to the concept of affordability while taking a veiled swipe at other EV makers, CEO Barra said “Affordable EVs are part of the market that start-ups aren’t targeting, but they are key to driving mass adoption of EVs, which is a national and a global priority. That’s why we plan to follow the Equinox with an even more affordable EV.”

It doesn’t take a degree in journalism to parse that statement and figure out a sub-$30,000 all-electric vehicle using Ultium batteries is on its way in the next half-decade.

If the existence of a $30k Equinox – shown above and planned for the 2024 model year – put the Bolt on notice, then this as-yet-unnamed EV should sound a red alert. Toss in a damaging recall and a ‘pause’ in production and the Bolt’s death certificate is all but signed. The only thing left on which to speculate is the new car’s name. since it will surely be a crossover-style vehicle, it could adopt an existing ICE taxonomy like Trax after that model vanishes. We’d suggest the recently-departed Spark but that would be gallows-level humor given the Bolt’s propensity to catch fire.

As an aside, why in the name of Alfred P. Sloan did General Motors continue the unfortunate habit of naming two different vehicles with variants of the same name? Bolt and Bolt EUV are mystifying to anyone who’s not in the know (read: The vast majority of drivers) and harkened back to stuff like the Lumina and Lumina APV. This is to say nothing of the whole Bolt/Volt conversation, which is surely fodder for a business school case study.

No timeline was given for this under-the-Equinox EV. Since 2020, GM has announced investments totaling more than $14 billion in ten sites across North America to increase their manufacturing capacity to more than 1 million EVs annually by the end of 2025.

[Image: Chevrolet/GM]

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39 Comments on “GM May Replace Bolt with Less-Expensive Ultium-Based Vehicle...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “…the unfortunate habit of naming two different vehicles with variants of the same name”

    Don’t forget the Mustang kerfuffle, which I believe Ford did quite deliberately to gin up press for their electric SUV.

    As for the Bolt, it’s certainly dead. As I descended into an underground parking garage the other day, I was met with a large sign at the entry gate that said “Bolt EVs are not permitted to park in this garage under any circumstances.”

    Nothing like having an uncontainable fire underneath a 64-story building.

  • avatar
    marc

    GM royally screwed up with the Bolt EUV. A small, reasonably attractive EV with decent range at a decent price, What could go wrong. Well, everything of course. It’s GM.

    They should have done more to visibly distance it from the Bolt. A wholly new name. And then either let the Bolt die then, or move the Bolt even further down market as a real entry point to EVs.

    Maybe the recalls could then have been handled differently, because they would be dealing with 2 different cars. (Pure speculation on that one. Maybe a little more development time on differentiation could have helped.) I could see myself going for exactly where they are marketing the EUV. Small SUV, smaller and cheaper then the Mach-E/Ariya/EV6/ID4, which are just a little up there in size and price. I know there are a couple other players in this lower segment, but I don’t find the small Hyundais or Kias any more appealing than the EUV. And I would really like to buy American. We can be pretty good at EVs here.

    So c’mon GM, get it right this time! (Or I’ll just wait for a sub Mach-E Ford. Or bite the bullet and go for the base Mach-E.)

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      How about the Camaro Z E a new crossover EV with the grill, sides, and tail lights of a Camaro.

    • 0 avatar
      3800FAN

      They wont. Gm only sinks capital into high profit margin products, hence why all affordable smaller gm products going back to the vega have always been a half baked effort. The fact that they know democrats will always have their back and bail them out cuz of the uaw makes it worse.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Most of them weren’t half-baked at all. GM’s infamous bean counters would de-content solid designs to meet a lower price point.

        If buyers wanted the complete car as designed, they would have to check every option box. Sometimes they would have to choose a higher cost version like the 2004-2008 Grand Prix GTP, THEN check all the boxes.

        The Vega was a special case, though. In addition to deleting the inner fenders to save money and using a too-small radiator, the aluminum block engine hadn’t completed full testing, and like the 1965-’71 full size car recall, used parts bin components like valve stem seals.

        • 0 avatar
          ponchoman49

          I would say most were half baked designs. The Vega, the Monza, the X-cars, the Cavalier or J-body, the Fiero, the Ion/Cobalt/G5- all lackluster designs that weren’t really competitive. It took them until making the Cruze to get a smaller cheaper car right and what do they do? Kill it off for NA.

          EV1, Volt, Bolt- all to be or soon to be footnotes in failed attempts with
          Ultium soon to follow. My confidence in this company fell to zero when the current CEO announced her triple zero fantasy sacrificing everything to get there.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          “If buyers wanted the complete car as designed, they would have to check every option box. Sometimes they would have to choose a higher cost version like the 2004-2008 Grand Prix GTP, THEN check all the boxes.”

          Obviously every model is designed with all options and those are scaled back into packages, but I have a bone to pick here on the GP. Since I’m somewhat knowledgeable on these, the differences (after MY05) between the Base, GT, and GTP (later itself the “GT”) were not all so different. The GTP granted you the L32 S/C 3800 vs the L31 N/A but the differences vs L67 were slight:

          “The L32 is a supercharged Series III. Introduced in 2004, the main differences between the L67 and the L32 are the L32’s electronic throttle control, slightly improved cylinder head design, and updated Eaton supercharger, the Generation 5 M90. Power output is up to 260 hp (194 kW) in the Grand Prix GTP.”

          The GTP had standard fog lights, different grille inserts, traction control, a different wheel package (17) and possibly larger brakes I can’t recall. Obviously it had all of the interior options but one could get the same options in the GT save the L32 and AFAIK wheel package – I know because I had one for 11 years with the “luxury” features. The GTP did not get some kind of true dual exhaust (it offered a fake dual exhaust designed to fit into one used on non S/C models) nor did it get some kind of upgraded suspension. Literally the only major difference was the L32, using the same 4T65-E, er an “HD” version lol, which the L32 will chew through as the LS4 does in the GXP. I can tell you GM jacked up the power steering rack design which I had to replace in 2013 and was later recalled but otherwise it was a similar car MY05-08 in terms of ride and materials. The major differences between base and GT/GTP other than motor being interior trim options, traction control, and fog lights. So the GP is not a case where you were “punished” vs the original design by acquiring the base model.

          http://www.automotiveforums.com/t655123-so_what_s_the_difference_in_gt_and_gtp_besides_more_hp_.html

  • avatar
    Syke

    As long as GM continues to keep an EV in the lineup that like a Bolt (under $30,000.00, 250 mile or so range), I’m not particularly worried about what model it is, or what the battery configuration. For the moment, keep the Bolt going until it’s Ultium-powered replacement is ready. Most EV customers aren’t that worried about which battery is in the car, they care about the car, the usefulness, the range, etc.

    I’m happy with my Bolt, and will be even happier later this year when I get my battery recall. If anything hurts GM, it that I’ve essentially got 41K on the car for free (assuming the recall hits in the next month), and then I’ve got a whole new battery pack in which to start over.

    Happiest I’ve been with a GM product since my ’86 Buick Century Wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Fellow Bolt owner, and I agree 100%. The Bolt has been a terrific car for my family in every respect. I’d turn around and trade it for another one if they hadn’t decontented it (thanks, chip shortage).

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    They really need to build the Buick Electra 225 (for range)

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    “Boltium”

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    Dont believe it. This is GM, the company that has always ignored and taken capital away from smaller affordable vehicles to put it to BIG GIANT high profit ones. Case in point, in the late 90s gm ignored the horribly outdated and uncompetitive chevy cavalier to buy the hummer brand and build the H2. Today, in 2022 gm ignored the hirrobllly outdated and uncompetitibe CHEVY BOLT to buld…. the HUMMER EV! GM is as GM does guys.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    BEVerage. Trims could be Coffee, Tea, etc.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Well if GM is going to have a Chevy Equinox EV, and also have a new regular Equinox, why can’t the cheaper EV still be called Bolt? A normal automaker might do that, but of course GM will not.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Why GM didn’t continue to develop the Voltec drive train and put it into a CUV type vehicle is beyond me. Seems car companies doing this move to electric thing right would offer both full on EVs and a plug-in hybrids.

    The 1st gen Volt was & is an amazing car. OK there may be some bias in that statement!….LOL The Voltec drive in the Gen 2 was heads and tails better. Think about it, a smaller battery with a sizable increase in range. If they had developed a Gen 3 and did as good of a job as they did w/Gen 1 & 2, imagine where they would be now.

    I’ll drive mine until it reaches a point where it is just to expensive to repair. After 7 years of ownership my 2013 has been bullet proof minus an ignitor that failed on the ICE this last summer. I’m guessing I’ll get 15 years out of the battery pack easy but we’ll see. So far it hasn’t lost a bit of range since it rolled off the assembly line.

    • 0 avatar
      3800FAN

      You nailed it bro. Its classic gm killing a product after getting it right. As toyota honda and even FORD selle as many hybrids as they can build what does gm do? They BURY it! F them they shoulda been left to go into liquidation in 2010.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Another fan of the Volt screaming the same thing, and have been for a couple of years now.

      No, a plug in hybrid isn’t the direct route to all-EV’s, all-the-time, but for a large swath of the country they make a hell of a lot more sense. Places like that charging desert in between Harrisburg, PA and Pittsburgh, PA. Right now, an impossible wasteland if you want to own an EV and do anything other than charge at home, but with a plug-in hybrid you’ve got that daily use EV and still have a long distance car with ICE convenience.

      And what better way to break in ICE owners into the future. It’s amazing how quickly you can get addicted to not having to pump (and pay for) gas anymore.

      Of course, GM having made that decision, Chrysler go in on the concept (guess what my replacement minivan is going to be), and Toyota dives in too.

      Let the greenies scream that it’s “nothing more than another disgusting ICE vehicle” (a couple of the guys in my local EV group have put up with that with their Volts), it’s still the most practical solution for a whole lot of this country right now.

      • 0 avatar
        SPPPP

        Makes a lot of sense. I never got interested in the Volt as a car, but the powertrain was a good idea.

        If GM wants to make their EV business viable, I think they really need to dive in and get the “big boy” vehicles electrified. Those are the high-volume vehicles, and the high-profit vehicles. That means the:
        – EV pickup
        – EV full-size SUV
        – EV mid-size SUV

        It’s clear that the “platform” differs quite a lot between EV and ICE vehicles in a given market segment. That being the case, maybe new nameplates need to come to market in these segments. I think GM is right to introduce an EV in the Equinox segment, though I don’t think it should have the same name as the ICE Equinox.

  • avatar

    Question of the day.

    Who is worse Roger Smith or Mary Barra?

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      Roger Smith by far. He started down the path of dull, cookie cutter like models that lacked brand individuality. The famous 1980’s Lincoln ad is illustrative.
      He unfortunately excelled in bean counting and de-contenting vehicles from subpar interior materials to door mounted seat and shoulder belts when they could have just used airbags which they offered as an option on 74-75 full-sized cars.
      He also continued the “once GM gets it right they drop the model” examples being the Fiero as well as the EV1 program.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Roger Smith, by far. If the day comes that GM finally dies, it’s death will be directly, and easily, traced back to his tenure. Mary Barra is just another moderately competent corporate bureaucrat in a company that desperately needs a genius, or just short of one, at the helm.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      That’s like asking what was worse the HT4100 or the 8-6-4. They both sucked but for different reasons.

  • avatar
    akcaptruth

    Cutlass
    Cutlass Supreme
    Cutlass Brougham
    Cutlass Ciera
    Cutlass Calais

    I could go on.

  • avatar
    3SpeedAutomatic

    Ms Berra apparently missed an opportunity when she took control of GM. She failed to read the “Riot Act” to each employee, letting them know that old GM hubris could sink the ship. There’s only so long a company can live off of SUVs and pickups, but completely fail in the EV world. If this keeps up, GM will need a dance partner for long term survival or end up as a footnote in auto history. If in doubt , look at Chrysler – Daimler – Fiat – Peugeot; or Nissan – Renault – Mitsubishi. IIRC, Ford is warning up to VW for EV development.

    The world is getting smaller. There’s a whole new wave of EV producers with a better product. GM needs to step up to the plate. It only has two more strikes left before its relegated to the bull pen for life.

  • avatar

    A car for every purse and purpose. the architect of The Organization Study, handed it to Billy who was too busy. Pierre read it and put Al in charge.

    such a rich history. too bad current management hasn’t learned from it~

    Buickman
    Founder
    GeneralWatch.com
    JDollinger.com
    DollingerDifference.com

  • avatar
    watersketch

    The Equinox EV looks pretty much like the Bolt which also looks just like the Buick Velite.

    Whatever they call it, I am definitely interested in a small EV that is less than $35k.

    What they call the battery doesn’t matter to me.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The Equinox EV is 1-2 size classes bigger than the Bolt (depending you you describe them). The Bolt is tiny and the Bolt EUV is pretty small. The Equinox is a midsize crossover.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Let’s review:

    Volt owners: Orphaned.
    Bolt owners: Soon to be orphaned.
    Ultium: You’re next.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      “Ultium: You’re next.”

      Not until it’s perfected. Then it’s toast.

      Here’s my crazy prediction. They bring out a Corvette branded version of the Lyriq. It vastly outsells the Lyriq. Same thing happens with the Celestiq/Cystiq or whatever. So, then, they take the Cadillac brand out behind he woodshed. GMC gets the Escalade. Corvette the rest.

      I’ll also take my crazy prediction up one level and say that Ford replaces the Lincoln brand with Mustang as their premium brand.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Ah, the standard GM protocol.

        Interesting, but to do so outside of bankruptcy/liquidation you have to compensate the remaining dealers (not sure how many bailed out for Project Pinnacle but before that buyout there were over 900).

        On the Ford front, I think at one point there were about 400 Lincoln dealerships but 233 of them were Lincoln-Mercury standalones with the rest being attached to Ford shops. If they never had standalones, it wouldn’t be as difficult to do as you suggest but whichever Lincoln standalones remaining would have to be compensated or given a “Mustang” dealership.

        I personally do not see either as complete marques.

  • avatar
    ffighter69

    You all must be smoking weed or just plain ignorant epsecilly the author for going off topic. Yes the BOLT is gone but it was a EV than most because of its range. There were .01% of the Bolts that had fire issues while 3.47% of hybrids had fires and while 1.53% of ICE vehicles had fires. So you where 347 times more likely to have a fire with a hybrid while with an ICE vehicle you were 153 times more likely to have a fire. Give you head a shake guys. Also don’t forget they found out what the issue was and it was the two things mentioned in the article had to happen in a single battery cell during manufacturing of the batteries for there to be a fire issue. Pure and simple quality control at the LG battery plant.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Your comment sounds like total rubbish. You really think 3.47% of BRAND NEW hybrids have been torching themselves in people’s driveways? That would be 28,000 hybrid fires in the USA just in 2021. Get real.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Ha anybody that actually things Ultium will be anything other than the next big GM thing that will soon be orphaned is kidding themselves. GM fits the very definition of insanity where they keep doing the same things over and over again and expect different results.

  • avatar
    Shockrave Flash Has Crashed

    As a former customer, and current fan of GM I hope they get this right. I suspect it will be a service and parts availability nightmare.

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