At a base price of $34,000 to $39,000 the Bolt seems too expensive for the car that it is. The Premium version of the Bolt, which doesn’t actually have much of a premium feel, will run you nearly $43,000, before tax incentives. At that price I wouldn’t expect manual seat controls and a plastic dash.
Someone interested in an BEV or PHEV American hatchback/small crossover might also consider the Ford C-MAX Energi PHEV, which comparably equipped is about $10,000 less than the Bolt.
The Ford C-MAX Energi has an electric-only range of roughly 20 miles, but can go about 600 miles on a single tank of gas. While not apples to apples, the two cars likely attract a similar buyer. The Bolt has the higher Federal tax credit of $7,500 versus the Ford C-MAX Energi’s $4,007 credit availability.
The Nissan LEAF SL will run you about $37,000 but has a much inferior range of only 107 miles. The Bolt has more than double the range of the LEAF but will set you back about $5,000 more than the Nissan EV. The LEAF, however, is also being aggressively priced right now.
Also, according to a sales representative at my local Chevrolet dealer he is seeing a number of BMW i3 owners replacing their car with the Bolt.
Fixes: GM should learn from Nissan and Fiat and recognize that focusing on attractive monthly lease payments will move units at a better clip than marketing “after rebate” prices. The problem here, of course, is that a buyer still has to finance the full sales price (and wait for the tax credit check) unlike with a lower lease payment with the tax credits factored in.
And good news: according to CarsDirect, GM recently launched a national lease rate of $329 per month for 3 years, with $3,809 due at signing and 15,000 miles per year mileage allowance. While not as competitive as the lower-priced and short-ranged LEAF at $199, this should have a significant positive effect on future sales. The local dealer in Northern California I visited also had an aggressive lease of $265 a month on the LT (base) version. I expect more aggressive lease deals in the coming months, which should help move a lot of Bolts.
Secondly, GM should offer a lower-priced version of the Bolt with a smaller battery pack (more on this in point #4). Thirdly, the Premium version needs to be upgraded to actually have a premium feel and to substantiate the $43,000 price tag (more on this one later as well). This would also likely increase the number of BMW i3 takeaways.