General Motors Will Build a New Chevy Bolt-Based Electric Car in Michigan

GM’s been making headlines lately because of plant shutdowns and job cuts, but now for some not-terrible news: The company says it will add 400 jobs in Michigan as it invests $300 million into a new electric car, which will be sold in addition to—and based on the architecture of—the Chevrolet Bolt.

The Chevrolet Bolt hatchback is a bit boring in many ways, but anyone who’s driven one will tell you that it’s actually quite good as an EV. It’s fun enough, it’s practical, and it’s relatively cheap (though sadly, I think it looks cheaper than it is). So I guess it’s not a bad thing that Chevrolet is going to continue building EVs based on the car’s basic bones.

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That’s the crux of GM’s announcement today, which reads, in part:

The new Chevrolet electric vehicle is in addition to the existing Chevrolet Bolt EV, further advancing GM’s commitment to an all-electric future. It will be designed and engineered off an advanced version of the current award-winning Bolt EV architecture.

The new Chevy will be built in the Bolt’s plant, Orion Assembly, which is located in Orion Township, Michigan not far from Detroit. GM claims in a press release that the company had previously been considering building the car elsewhere. Here’s why, GM says, it changed its mind:

The new electric vehicle had been slated for production outside of the U.S. The decision to bring it to Orion was based on many factors, including:

  • The Orion plant currently builds the Bolt EV, and the new Chevrolet EV will be based off an advanced version of the same vehicle architecture.
  • Moving production to a U.S. manufacturing plant supports the rules of origin provisions in the proposed United States, Mexico and Canada Agreement.
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Whether being able to give the president something positive to say about GM amid his slew of critical remarks factored into this equation, we’ll probably never know. But in any case, expect another EV from Chevy sometime early next decade. We don’t have exact timing, but back in 2017, GM promised 20 electric vehicles by 2023, and Automotive News wrote that two of those would be Bolt-based and launch by roughly April, 2019. I doubt GM will meet that timing, but I bet this new Bolt-based car isn’t too far off.

A number of automotive outlets are hypothesizing that the new EV will be a crossover, which would make sense given the public’s insatiable thirst for cars that give up handling and fuel economy for ride height. That makes me wonder whether the Bolt’s platform can easily accommodate a second motor to allow for all-wheel drive. Hopefully we’ll learn more soon.

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This new vehicle will come in addition to an electric Cadillac, which the brand said in January would be the first General Motors vehicle built on a “future EV platform,” which some are referring to as BEVIII (the Bolt is built on the BEVII platform).

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David Tracy

Writer, Jalopnik. 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle, 1985 Jeep J10, 1948 Willys CJ-2A, 1995 Jeep Cherokee, 1992 Jeep Cherokee auto, 1991 Jeep Cherokee 5spd, 1976 Jeep DJ-5D, totaled 2003 Kia Rio