With an eye to achieving their near-term electric vehicle market share goals GM is committing billions to more battery factories, autonomous vehicles and covering the cost of home chargers for customers
It’s a busy month for General Motors. The legacy car maker is going all out on their commitment to electrification with a pair of back-to-back announcements that Chevrolet will cover the cost up to $1500 to install a Level 2 home charger and GM pledging $35 billion towards their electric and autonomous vehicles through 2025, which includes the funding for two new American battery factories.
In addition, the company has redesigned their 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV and all-new 2022 Bolt EUV — coming to market this summer. These vehicles, the company hope, will bring accessibility to the low end of the market with the price pointed toward affordable purchases and leasing. The latter option is a key pipeline for generating a used vehicle market that has been difficult to establish to this point for electric vehicles.
“There is that perception out there, when we do research, that there is a large cost of ownership with an EV,” says Ryan O’Neill, market segment manager for Chevrolet Cars and EVs at General Motors Canada, in an exclusive pre-launch interview with Electric Autonomy Canada.
The price point on the new Bolts “breaks down that barrier and it shows that EVs are actually attainable for the Canadian consumer.”
That’s just one of several points touched by O’Neill who also points to how GM is evolving, in step with buyers and competitors, as EVs become a staple in its product lineup.
Pre-incentive suggested retail starting prices for the 2022 Bolt EV and Bolt EUV are $38,198 and $40,198 respectively. At these levels, O’Neill said, GM hopes to be able to counter consumer misconceptions about the high cost of EV ownership.
The Chevrolet-covered charger installs also come with an added bonus: there’s also no need, or added expense, for a standalone home charger. The EUV comes with a dual level charge cord that plugs directly into a 240-volt home outlet (the cord is an option with the regular Bolt).
Residual values also key
Claiming a healthy chunk of available market share in the passenger vehicle segment is, clearly, a priority for GM as the global transportation sector is progressing into a new era of zero emission mobility.
The new Bolts are hitting the market with strong residual value projections from ALG, a division of J.D. Power responsible for forecasting vehicle residual values, meaning that leasing will be offered to consumers at more affordable rates than were previously available.
According to O’Neill, lower lease rates will bolster the used electric vehicle market going forward and can help play a key role in building consumer confidence around EVs.
“In addition to helping us sell to customers today, it also helps us build that second hand, used market, which is really important and critical to ensuring that EVs can be mainstream in Canada,” he said.
O’Neill also acknowledged that GM and its dealers have a critical role to play in upping their own practices and service to help break down misconceptions and make buying or leasing an EV a smoother process.
To do that, the company has invested in an extensive and ongoing dealer training program.
“We do year-round interactive training sessions with sales and service staff as well as create videos for them,” said O’Neill. The company’s goal is to prevent any breakdown in the customer shopping experience. “Having staff that can take the customer from considering an EV to purchasing and EV is the critical step.”
In some cases, in many parts of Canada, a short supply of EVs is another a critical issue affecting buyer interest and enthusiasm for EVs. Lately, this issue has been further complicated by ongoing global semiconductor shortages, which have disrupted production of numerous automotive products. General Motors has stated publicly that these shortages are not expected to delay production on the 2022 Bolt EV and EUV, however, and O’Neill said EVs are being treated as a high-priority product for the company.
“Our supply chain organization has made huge strides to ensure that our supply base is integrated in the near term to combat those semiconductor situations,” O’Neill said. “EVs are a critical part of our future, so the organization is doing everything we can to ensure EVs get to our customers as quickly as possible to ensure we can build that EV future.”
As to the question of specific product allocations in Canada — will it mirror current EV sales levels for example, or will GM aim higher in a bid to help move the needle? — O’Neill was noncommittal. “We don’t get into production numbers,” he said. “But we’re very excited for what this product can do for us in growing our EV owner base.”