It seems that General Motors has a couple electric surprises in store for next week's Detroit Auto Show. In addition to the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Volt extended range plug-in hybrid, they're also cooking up a pure electric crossover aimed right at Tesla Motors for a fraction of the price — and it's called the Chevrolet Bolt.
Some details about the Bolt concept leaked out tonight ahead of the car's debut on Monday. The Wall Street Journal says the Bolt will have a 200-mile range, be sold in all 50 states, cost around $30,000, and will debut in 2017. From their dispatch:
The concept version of the electric car will be designed to look more like a so-called crossover vehicle, according to people familiar with the design. The Bolt is capable of driving four times further than a Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid on a single charge.
[...] By placing the Bolt in the high-volume Chevrolet line and giving it a name similar to the Volt, executives hope to polish Chevy's image as a full-line vehicle manufacturer prepared to meet demand regardless of prices at the pump, according to people familiar with the strategy. GM expects the Bolt to compete globally, including in markets such as China.
We've heard before that GM is super, super pissed that the Tesla Model S is the runaway hit of the electric world. That's what they were hoping to do with their Volt, and while it sold in respectable numbers and has a loyal following, it also suffers from a compromised design and a too-high price tag.
The all-electric Bolt will be positioned against Tesla, specifically their Model 3 entry-level luxury sedan, expected to be priced around $35,000.
But besides simply competing with a potent newcomer, as the Journal notes the Bolt represents an unusually big risk for the often-conservative GM. Demand has been weak for electric cars lately thanks to cheap gas, but the company also has to deal with regulations in Europe and Asia that penalize automakers for relying too much on trucks and SUVs — two GM traditional strong points.
Chevrolet currently also sells a Spark EV that gets just 82 miles of range, so if they do the Bolt right it could be a real contender in the electric space.
Expect more details on Monday, or probably sooner if more details and photos leak out before then.