LG Chem: GM to sell 'more than 30,000' Chevy Bolt EVs next year

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2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Sep 2016

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Sep 2016

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A very brief article on a single sentence uttered on Tuesday by an executive at Korean battery maker LG Chem has reverberated around electric-car circles for most of this week.

The executive was vice president Kang Chang-beom, and he spoke on a conference call for financial analysts on the topic of LG Chem's third-quarter earnings.

His comment has assumed outsize importance because it addressed the hot topic of how many Chevrolet Bolt EV electric cars GM can or will sell in the electric car's first year.

DON'T MISS: Green Car Reports 2017 Best Car To Buy nominee: Chevy Bolt EV

The Bolt EV has been in pilot production at GM's Lake Orion assembly plant in Michigan for most of this year.

It is expected to go on sale at the very first U.S. dealers in December or January, with a phased roll-out to all 50 states taking place during most of 2017.

As reported by Reuters, Kang said LG Chem expects GM to sell "more than 30,000" of the electric cars next year.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Sep 2016

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, road test, California coastline, Sep 2016

Enlarge Photo

That's it. That's all that was reported: "more than 30,000." Which could mean 30,100 ... or 60,000.

Much discussion has ensued. Some of it assumes that 30,000 will be the cap on first-year Bolt EV production; other comments assign that number solely to U.S. sales.

Both of those suppositions are likely wrong.

CHECK OUT: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV first drive: 240 miles in an electric car

While the first Bolt EV will probably be delivered in the U.S.—and likely in electric-car mecca California—it will also go on sale in South Korea, multiple European markets, and elsewhere.

Timing for rollouts outside the U.S. isn't entirely clear, but in the guise of the Opel Ampera-e (its European identity), there will almost surely be Bolt EVs delivered in Europe before the end of 2017.

All of those cars will be built in Michigan, and will be part of the total first-year production (though not all of it will be listed as Bolt EV sales).

Opel Ampera-e at 2016 Paris Motor Show

Opel Ampera-e at 2016 Paris Motor Show

Enlarge Photo

The question of Bolt EV volume has been a contentious one of late. Last year, a supplier suggested that GM's initial orders for Bolt EV parts indicated a volume around 30,000 cars.

That was immediately seized on as a definitive limit, and much extrapolation on GM's plans, limits, and motives followed.

It's worth noting that the highest U.S. sales to date for any vehicle with a plug were just over 30,000, for the Nissan Leaf in 2014.

READ THIS: How many Chevy Bolt EVs will be sold in first 12 months? Poll results

Earlier this year, one  analyst suggested that the market for the Bolt EV could be as large as 75,000 cars—though whether GM could ramp up to deliver that many in the Bolt EV's first year remained an open question.

GM has never officially commented on planned volumes for the Chevrolet Bolt EV.

Kevin Kelly, of the company's advanced-technology communications group, has said only that Chevy was not production-constrained, and could produce as many Bolt EVs as the market proved to demand.

[hat tip: Brian Henderson]

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