GM Ramping Up Production of the Bolt in Push Towards its Electric Future

GM Ramping Up Production of the Bolt in Push Towards its Electric Future

Author: Eric Walz   

GM's Chevy Bolt was the best selling electric car in California last year, indicating the rising demand for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, not just in California, but worldwide.

In order to meet the growing demand for electric vehicles, GM has announced that will will increase production of the Bolt EV. General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra made the announcement at the annual CERAWeek energy conference in Houston on Wednesday.

"We are in the midst of a transportation revolution. Our vehicles, and how we interact with them, are fundamentally changing because of new technologies and the evolving demands of our customers. For more than a century, General Motors has helped transform how the world moved." Barra said at the event.

"Today, I want to focus on zero emissions, and how our electric vehicle strategy will get us there."

General Motors is moving quickly towards its goal. Last year in the U.S., GM's Chevrolet Bolt EV, Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, and Cadillac CT6 Plug-in accounted for nearly one quarter of industry EV and plug-in sales. In China, where plug-in electric sales are rising, GM introduced the Buick Velite 5 and Baojun e100 along with the CT6 Plug-in.

Barra also said that GM is bringing at least 20 new all-electric models to market by 2023 – the company's next step toward a zero-emissions world.

GM remains optimistic about its electric future. Last year, automakers sold 1.2 million plug-in electric and plug-in hybrids around the world.

In December 2012, the Chevrolet Volt was GM's flagship electrified vehicle and its owners traveled  a total of 100 million all-electric miles in it— just two years after it went on sale. By December 2017, drivers of five electrified models, including the Bolt EV, racked up more than 2.6 billion EV miles.

As a company, Barra said GM is encouraged by this momentum, which increased global demand for the Chevrolet Bolt EV. As a result, Barra announced today that GM will increase Bolt EV production later this year at its Orion Assembly plant north of Detroit.

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Barra is confident that GM can increase output to increase demand. Barra said that GM's 100 years of manufacturing expertise allows the flexibility to scale production accordingly, in order to meet market demand.

"Increased Bolt EV production benefits our customers around the world, our dealers and our employees, who are proud to build an affordable, groundbreaking vehicle that our customers love. And there is more to come because the Bolt EV is our platform providing a window into our all-electric and self-driving future." she said.

While we are growing our electric fleet, we are also pushing the boundaries of engineering to improve fuel efficiency of GM's entire lineup, including full-size trucks. "Our commitment to an all-electric, zero-emissions future is unwavering, regardless of any modifications to future fuel economy standards." Barra added.

During her presentation, Barra said she expects to hear more on the required government review of fuel economy standards soon, and GM is pushing for a common standard. "What we do support in that review is the need for the government to have one set of requirements. One common standard allows us to advance innovation for our customers today and tomorrow."

For example, the current standards did not comprehend increased shared and autonomous electric vehicles, which are key to achieving the vision of a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion. The Chevy Bolt is being used for the autonomous ride-hailing service GM is working on with San Francisco based Cruise Automation.

Partnerships for EV Charging Infrastructure

Innovation alone will not accelerate a zero-emissions future. For public acceptance of electric vehicles to increase faster, customers need to embrace them in a market where gas prices are relatively low, and with a cleaner electric grid to support them.

In the U.S., the current federal tax credit up to $7500 helps make electric vehicles more desirable and affordable. However the tax credit is expected to expire as part of a new House tax bill from the Trump administration. Barra said the tax credit should be expanded, so new EV customers can receive the benefit going forward.

GM is also looking to remove barriers to consumer acceptance of EVs. One of these barriers is a supporting EV charging infrastructure. Barra said that the energy industry and other stakeholders must partner with GM on a robust charging infrastructure that drives consumer confidence, knowing that they can drive their EVs anywhere at any time with easy access to EV charging.

In the U.S., electric vehicles from all manufacturers have access to about 17,000 public charging stations, but additional stations will be needed as more consumers discover the benefits of EVs. This is particularly important because the growth of the electric vehicle market will support other innovative and advanced mobility solutions like car-sharing, ridesharing, and self-driving vehicles.

The growth of electric vehicles is also spurring positive discussion around the need for more renewable power sources. There is great progress being made in this area, but there is more to do.

General Motors recognizes the challenge that coal still generates about 30 percent of electricity in the U.S. and 65 percent in China. Barra added that once the percentage of renewable power sources in the grid rises, automakers can further reduce the carbon footprint of EVs.

Barra believes the automotive and energy industries have the technology, the talent and the will to solve these challenges, and create a world that is safer more sustainable for all.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally from New Jersey, Eric is an automotive and technology reporter specializing in the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley. Eric has over fifteen years of automotive experience and a B.A. in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the automotive industry and beyond. He has worked on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology. Outside of work, Eric likes to travel to new places, play guitar, and explore the outdoors.
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