GM loses $9K on each Chevy Bolt EV to become major player in electric cars: report


2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

With the first cars expected to arrive at a few dealerships before the end of this month, the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV could change the electric car landscape.

It offers an EPA-rated 238-mile range in a segment where only cars with Tesla badges previously earned ratings of more than 200 miles of range.

The Bolt EV's $37,495 base price is little more than half the price of the cheapest Tesla, however, making it more affordable than the Silicon Valley electric-car maker's current models.

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

(The Bolt EV price includes the mandatory destination fee, before any federal, state, or local incentives that a buyer may be eligible for.)

The low price and long range could help General Motors sell a lot of Bolt EVs, but a new report claims the company loses money on each of them.

In fact, GM stands to lose up to $9,000 on each Bolt EV it sells, according to Bloomberg.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

The news service cites an anonymous "person familiar with the matter," and noted that a GM spokesperson "declined to comment on the expected profitability" of its electric car.

Based on what it called off-the-record conversations with "a few people familiar with the Bolt EV program," Electrek also predicted that GM would lose more than $9,000 on each car sold.

While the sources of these profit-loss reports are not on the record, it's worth noting that GM has a srong incentive to sell the Bolt EV at a loss.

MORE: GM ramps up 2017 Chevy Bolt EV electric-car production; how many can it build?

That would be a desire to dominate the market for plug-in vehicles in California, which now has close to half of the nation's electric and plug-in hybrid cars on its roads.

In addition to being the nation's largest market for electric cars, California has a zero-emission vehicle mandate that requires automakers with certain sales volumes to offer growing numbers of these cars.

Automakers accumulate credits for exceeding these requirements, which can be sold to other automakers at a profit.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

That's what Tesla has done over the past few years, and GM may be planning to do the same with the Bolt EV.

Establishing a substantial beachhead in long-range electric cars now will also put GM in a good position as plug-ins become a larger part of every automaker's product mix.

It's a strategy that ultimately worked very well for Toyota with hybrids.

It is widely accepted that Toyota lost several billion dollars on the first-generation Prius, which was manufactured from 1997 to 2003.

The company has indicated that it wasn't until sometime  into the production run of the second-generation Prius (2004-2009) that it began to break even on sales.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

While Toyota lost money initially, it now controls roughly half of the global hybrid market, and is known far and wide for its hybrids and their corresponding green image, even among shoppers who have no intention of buying one.

With more than 20 years of experience designing and producing electric cars, GM has a strong incentive to stake a claim in mass-priced electric vehicles, in part to get a head start on Tesla as that company moves toward launching its lower-priced Model 3.

Tesla says the Model 3 will go into production next year, at a starting price of $35,000 with a range of 200 miles or more, and that the first deliveries will occur no more than a year from now, before the end of 2017.

That gives Chevy roughly a year to establish itself among electric-car buyers as the best value among long-range offerings.

Only time will tell if the Bolt EV does for GM and electric cars what the Prius did for Toyota and hybrids.

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