Despite the pandemic, Chevrolet increased its Q1 sales of the Bolt EV by 36% compared to a year ago. Electrek spoke this week with Tony Johnson, the marketing and advertising lead for Chevy cars and crossovers, to see how the brand will maintain that momentum. Johnson told us that Chevy is “doubling down” on the Bolt this year as it paves the way for future EVs. Chevy might even have an electric sports car in the works.

Johnson said that great prices were helpful with selling more Bolts so far this year. But that’s only part of the strategy.

He explained that through the rest of May, the company will continue to offer 0% financing for 72 months with a $4,700 cash allowance. If buyers decide not to finance with GM, the “customer cash” incentive goes up to $8,500. Lease deals are around $250 a month, with $2,700 due on signing.

Check local dealers for heavily discounted inventory. The incentives are subject to change on a monthly basis depending on market conditions.

Johnson noted that the Bolt market has decisively shifted away from its California focus.

California saw some gains this year, but we got a lot of growth from markets like Tampa, Chicago, and Austin. Some of these markets are just starting to catch the EV bug.

We’re not sitting back and waiting for this to happen. We want to be a driving force behind it.

Those efforts include creating EV-related salesperson guides, conducting specialized training, and publishing content about the beauty and simplicity of living with an EV. “You’re not stopping at gas stations anymore,” said Johnson. “You’re plugging in every night, so you’re saving the time.”

Something is working because Johnson said that 70% of those Bolt customers this year are new to General Motors. That’s central to the sales and marketing strategy for the Bolt but also the wave of 10 or more new EVs coming from GM in the next few years.

The big thing for us is not just going after people who are already in the EV space. We have to grow this space. That means going after the EV-curious and showing them how easy it is to live with these vehicles.

Johnson said that GM is “banking on” a vast untapped market of new EV buyers.

He said that the clear blue skies from reducing driving during the pandemic lockdown are giving consumers a glimpse of the world with zero-emission vehicles. Johnson added that not having to handle unhygienic gas pumps was an extra benefit.

Chevy Bolt

It will be a balancing act for General Motors to maintain brisk sales of the current generation of Bolt EVs while conveying the excitement of the new generation of upcoming all-electric vehicles from GMC-Hummer and Cadillac.

The Chevy brand also has long-term plans for a much broader portfolio of electric cars. Before the pandemic hit, the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV was scheduled to revealed in summer 2020, with production beginning in 2021 at GM’s Orion Township assembly plant. Its wheelbase is five inches longer than the current Bolt.

But there’s more. Johnson said:

“We’ll definitely fulfill unique customer needs and expand our portfolio. The only way we can grow this movement is to start attacking each segment one by one.”

I asked, “Which segments?”

He replied, “We’re flipping to an all EV future, so every segment eventually.”

I asked, “A performance all-electric sports car?”

Johnson answered, “If we’re serious about the future, right?”

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