GM ended up delivering over 23,000 Chevy bolt EVs in the US during its first full year of production, but availability was limited in other markets.
Despite troubles in Europe where the vehicle is sold as the Opel Ampera-E, 2018 is expected to be a more important year for GM’s only all-electric vehicle sold internationally.
Now, we learn that South Korea could become an important market for the car as GM confirms that it is allocating 5,000 units to the country for the year.
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Korea’s Yonhap News agency reported today:
“Last year, the Detroit-based carmaker sent only 600 Chevy Bolt EVs to South Korea, and local customers showed a strongly favorable response toward the emission-free vehicle despite a lack of charging infrastructure, the spokesman said. On Monday, GM Korea began to accept pre-orders for the Bolt EV from local customers, with deliveries scheduled to be made from April, he said.”
The Bolt EV is expected to be sold for 27-28 million won (US$25,000-$26,000) after the generous 12 million won government incentive for EVs.
Last year, longer range EVs were ineligible for the subsidy due to a ridiculous rule. For an EV to be eligible for the incentive, the electric car needed to be able to fully charge in under 10 hours using a standard outlet.
It unfairly gives an advantage to vehicles with small battery packs and shorter ranges. Vehicles with larger packs and longer ranges, like Tesla’s and the Chevy Bolt EV, can charge in under 10 hours, but by using level 2 chargers or fast-charging – not a standard outlet.
Other EV incentive schemes, like California’s ZEV mandate, include charging speed restrictions, but they are nowhere near as restrictive as this Korean scheme. Realizing the error back in July, the government fixed the rule starting in September.
The change is likely going to make several more EV models popular in the country and GM is now going to try to take advantage of it with higher volumes of Chevy Bolt EVs.
This is by far the highest volume allocated for a country outside the US that we have seen for the Bolt EV so far.
While we don’t expect significant volumes of all-electric vehicles from GM until they expand their EV lineup starting next year, this move could indicate that GM will expand production of the Bolt EV this year.
In South Korea, the American automaker could also play the locally sourced card. The vehicle’s production is highly dependent on Korea’s LG, which makes the electric powertrain of the Bolt EV, as well as several other components like the infotainment system.