There has been a lot of speculation around GM’s production capacity for the Chevy Bolt EV, a $37,500 all-electric vehicle with 60kWh battery and 238 mile range. We’ve heard numbers between 25,000 and 50,000 units per year. Now LG Chem, GM’s battery supplier for the Bolt, says that they are expecting to produce “over 30,000” battery packs for the vehicle program next year.
2017 will be the first full year of production for the Bolt EV since it is expected to enter production in the coming weeks, if not already.
During a conference call to discuss the company’s third-quarter earnings, LG Chem Vice President Kang Chang-beom said that the company is projecting over 30,000 sales for the Bolt EV program, according to Reuters.
As we previously reported, LG is an incredibly important supplier to GM’s Bolt EV program. In fact, the Bolt is almost as much an LG product as it is a GM product. LG Chem supplies the battery cells, but between its other divisions, the South Korean giant supplies all the main powertrain components, the HVAC system, and the instrument/infotainment cluster, among other things.
Earlier this month, we reported that GM dealerships are starting to get allocations for Chevy Bolt EVs, but only in states with ZEV mandates. While GM claims otherwise, it’s still not 100% clear if the Bolt will be only a compliance car or really a widely available car. Perhaps Chevy is hedging that if it flops (which it shouldn’t) they can save face by making it a ZEV credit machine.
Despite some caveats, like its DC fast-charging capacity capped at 50 kW, it’s a more than decent electric vehicle at $37,500 before incentives. If someone can get the car at ~$30,000, it should prove to be a very efficient and popular commuter car – especially if Chevy is diligent about communicating the huge cost savings and other advantages of driving electric vs. ICE.
But if they can only produce ~30,000 cars per year, it sounds like it could be difficult to get the car outside of ZEV states. Between all of them, California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, there could be plenty of demand to create a backlog and the vehicle is much more valuable to GM in those states than anywhere else.
The ZEV credits it will get for just one sale in California can be worth anywhere between $12,000 and $20,000. That could be the difference between making a profit or not on the Bolt EV for GM. Perhaps LG is expecting to bring the prices down on batteries, thus insuring profitability, as the Bolt moves from ZEV credit geos to the broader US auto market.
It will certainly be interesting to follow the launch of the car in the coming months and see if the Bolt becomes available outside of ZEV states and at what price. We’re particularly interested in getting back behind the wheel. Stay tuned.