The Chevrolet Bolt electric hatch – axed earlier this year to make way for production of three-tonne electric pick-ups – is poised to make a comeback, and it could be sold in Australia.
The electric Chevrolet Bolt hatchback – axed in its previous form earlier this year so its production line could be used for giant electric pick-ups – is due to return to US showrooms in 2025 with new battery technology.
It is also a chance – albeit slim – to come to Australia as part of General Motors Specialty Vehicles, the local operation of Chevrolet’s parent company, General Motors.
As reported by industry journal Automotive News, General Motors CEO Mary Barra confirmed plans to a media conference to have the Bolt – previously one of the most affordable electric passenger vehicles in the US – “back again in ’25.”
The new car is poised to be the first GM vehicle to use lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery cells – as used in BYD electric cars, as well as certain MG and Tesla vehicles – which are more affordable and can charge faster than the lithium-ion batteries in the first-generation Bolt.
Those two elements are expected to cut production costs considerably compared to the original Bolt – as much as 40 per cent – and are reportedly key to the second generation being given the green light.
While full-steam ahead for North America, representatives for General Motors Specialty Vehicles (GMSV) would not confirm to Drive if the Bolt is planned for Australia.
“We consider all models from our global portfolio for suitability for Australian showrooms,” a GMSV spokesperson said, “However we have nothing we can share on Bolt.”
While the car was not ruled out, it is only a slim chance for local showrooms given it would need to be manufactured in right-hand drive from the factory – rather than converted from left- to right-hand drive locally – for its price to be competitive in Australia.
Deliveries of the Chevrolet Bolt began in the US in December 2016 – months ahead of the Tesla Model 3 – and it became the cheapest electric vehicle on sale in North America.
Yet in April 2023 GM announced the nameplate would be phased out with no direct successor in the pipeline, despite it being eligible for electric-car tax credit incentives from the government, and still selling in reasonable numbers.
The former Bolt factory in Orion, Michigan, would exclusively manufacture electric pick-ups using ‘Ultium’ underpinnings also beneath the Cadillac Lyriq due in Australia in late 2024.
Only months later, Ms Barra hinted a new Bolt would be cheaper to develop and confirmed a second generation was in the works during a GM shareholder earnings call in July.
Ms Barra said the US car giant “will [introduce the car] more quickly compared to an all-new program with significantly lower engineering expense and capital investment by updating the vehicle with Ultium and Ultifi technologies,” according to Automotive News.
Nonetheless, the 2025 arrival is sooner than expected.
GM and Japanese car maker Honda announced in 2022 the two companies would co-develop an affordable electric car, priced at less than $US30,000 – where the Bolt was positioned – to disrupt Tesla’s dominance in the more affordable electric-car market in the US, where the likes of GWM, MG and BYD do not yet sell cars.
The car maker suspended Cruise’s ‘robo-taxi’ program in November 2023 – which used modified versions of the previous Bolt – following an incident involving a pedestrian the previous month which led to its licence to operate in California being suspended.
The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) issued a voluntary recall of all 950 Cruise robo-taxis following GM’s decision to suspend the program.
GM also cancelled the Cruise Origin, a six-seat robo-taxi shuttle with no steering or controls for a human driver, which it was also working on with Honda.
While the larger Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid was sold in Australia as a Holden – which was owned by GM – the smaller electric Bolt did not wear the Holden badge, with the car maker citing a lack of local electric vehicle incentives as one of the barriers to entry.
Much of the design work on the original Chevrolet Bolt concept in 2015 was conducted in Holden’s former design studio in Victoria.
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