Fresh off another victory for the new Chevrolet Bolt EV – which was named the car of the year by syndicated TV show Motor Week – General Motors is exploring options for adding still more battery-electric models to its line-up.
While company officials are vague about both the details, numerous sources say that GM wants to maintain the lead it established by introducing the Bolt, the world’s first long-range, mainstream-priced battery-car.
The electric crossover has garnered a series of awards since its launch late last year, including North American Car of the Year.
“We will obviously need a much broader portfolio,” said General Motors President Dan Ammann, talking to TheDetroitBureau.com after a keynote speech at this year’s Chicago Auto Show. “We see opportunities as electric vehicles take hold.”
How fast the market will evolve, however, is uncertain, leading to caution within GM. It had hoped to tap into an explosion in demand for plug-based vehicles when it launched the first-generation Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid in 2010, but sales failed to live up to expectations, despite support all the way up to the White House – former President Barack Obama expressing a goal of having 1.5 million plug-based vehicles on the road by 2015.
Demand for all forms of battery-based drivetrains – including conventional hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles – has hovered at less than 3% in recent years. Sales of less sophisticated HEVs, such as the Toyota Prius, actually dipped in 2016, analysts blaming low gasoline prices. But demand for more advanced plug models jumped 38%, in part due to the arrival of more advanced products such as the second-generation Chevy Volt and the new Bolt EV.
The buzz among industry insiders and analysts gathered at the Chicago Auto Show is that 2017 could be a watershed year, marked by the arrival of even more plug-based products, especially those targeting more mainstream audiences. That includes not only the 238-mile Chevy Bolt EV – which will cost less than $30,000 after factoring in a federal tax credit – but the eagerly awaited Tesla Model 3.
Tesla this week confirmed it will briefly shut down its Fremont, California, assembly plant to begin tooling up for Model 3 production. While a hard date hasn’t been announced, it is expected to begin retail production as early as July.
Meanwhile, Nissan is expected to unveil an all-new version of its Leaf EV sometime late this year and, as TheDetroitBureau.com previously reported, it is expected to get at least 200 miles range per charge.
Virtually every major automaker is now working on bringing long-range EVs to market, including such brands as Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota, Ford and even luxury brands such as Audi and Porsche. A number of those new entries are expected to target the mainstream.
Read more of the original article at The Detroit Bureau.