2014 Chevrolet Spark EV - First Drive, Portland, July 2013Enlarge Photo
On Monday, General Motors will unveil a concept version of a $30,000 battery-electric vehicle with 200 miles of electric range that will arrive on the market before the planned Tesla Model 3, according to reports.
Called the Chevrolet Bolt, the concept is a compact five-door hatchback that uses lithium-ion cells from LG Chem, GM's established battery partner.
Late last night, reports appeared in The Wall Street Journal and The Detroit News giving leaked details of the car, attributed only to "sources" within the auto industry said to be familiar with the Bolt.
GM spokesperson Terry Rhadigan would not confirm the reports, according to the News, but he also didn't deny or contradict them.
2017 Chevrolet Bolt
To be launched by GM CEO Mary Barra on Monday morning at the Detroit Auto Show, the Chevy Bolt would go on sale for the 2017 model year, meaning it could arrive as soon as the second half of 2016.
The Bolt is known internally as the "BEV2," according to the reports. The concept is said to be a hatchback designed to look like a crossover utility vehicle, though no details were available on whether all-wheel drive would be offered.
UPDATE: A source who saw the GM display being set up at the Detroit Auto Show yesterday told Green Car Reports that the centerpiece of the display was "one car in a dramatic reveal position (in a round shroud that gets lifted up) that didn't fit with anything currently in the lineup."
This car, the source said, was "shaped like a BMW i3"--which is to say tall and blunt-tailed. That would seem to confirm the suggestion that the Bolt is a crossover, or at least has a mini-SUV shape.
The new battery-electric vehicle could be built either in the Detroit-Hamtramck plant where the Volt is built or at the assembly plant where the Buick Verano and Chevy Sonic small cars are built in Orion, Michigan.
2016 Chevrolet Volt sneak peak for owners, Los Angeles, Nov 2014Enlarge Photo
Its battery would likely be built in LG Chem's plant in Holland, Michigan, which now builds the 17.1-kilowatt-hour battery packs for the 2015 Chevrolet Volt.
An all-new 2016 Chevy Volt will also be launched at the Detroit Auto Show.
Reuters reported last July that LG Chem CFO Cho Suk-jeh said it will supply batteries in 2016 for an electric car with a range of 200 miles or more.
But the Chevy Bolt would be sold globally, including in China, where local, state, and national government bodies are working aggressively to promote electric cars to help fight the dangerous levels of air pollution found in most of its big cities.
The target price for the Bolt is around $30,000, which would put it squarely into competition with the 2017 Nissan Leaf, the second generation of the world's highest-volume battery-electric car.
The updated Leaf is expected to offer a choice of battery pack sizes, with ranges from today's 80 or so up to 120 and perhaps even 150 miles. If it can achieve a 200-mile rating, the Bolt would handily trump that selling point.