Image of Chevrolet Bolt and Toyota RAV4 Prime courtesy of MF
John Goreham's picture

GM Losing Important U.S. Electric Vehicle Customers To Competitors - Here’s Why

Two years after GM declared that its all-electric future was now, the company is losing critical American-market customers to competitors. Here’s why an important part of GM’s customer base is leaving for other brands.
Advertisement

General Motors is saying all the right things, providing frequent updates on its mega-plants for future EVs and releasing neat images and renderings of its future trucks and luxury cars for the American market that will be driven exclusively by electricity. What GM isn’t doing is delivering affordable EVs to consumers in America. Chevrolet, GM’s value brand, has no affordable EVs on the market in the U.S today, and no firm timeline for their return. We confirmed this fact Monday directly with a GM spokesperson authorized to make statements to the media.

GM Loses Affordable BEV Sales Lead
The Chevrolet Bolt was by far the sales leader in affordable battery-electric vehicles one year ago. With dealers having ample inventory, many having EV experts on staff, and GM providing deep discounts, the Bolt was easy to call the best battery-electric vehicle (BEV) value in America. Around mid-summer, Chevy then added its fantastic Bolt EUV, this tester’s favorite affordable BEV for 2021, to its fleet. Everything was looking great. Then Bolts started to catch fire.

Bolt Fire Recall
Not many Bolts. But enough that GM decided to recall every unit ever produced, and to also pull the Bolt and Bolt EUV off the new car market. The recall was called a "slow-motion catastrophe," by respected EV writer and advocate, John Voelcker in Car and Driver. GM added dire warnings about how to park, where to park, how to charge, and gave owners fits with range-reducing mandates that made the Bolt very hard to live with. To try to appease Bolt owners, GM finally started to offer generous buybacks.

Image of GM President Mark Reuss courtesy of General Motors' media page.

GM's EV Deliveries Are Negative
GM is effectively going backward with EV deliveries. While not delivering new affordable EVs, and at the same time taking ones it already sold out of the marketplace, GM’s net EV deliveries are now negative. Which is crazy considering GM told the world its “all-electric future was now” two years ago.

Former Bolt Owners Report New Purchases From Other Brands
Across social media, Bolt owners are posting up images showing themselves with the new EVs that they bought after turning in Bolts to GM via its recall buy-back program, trading them in at dealers, or selling them to be rid of the problem. GM’s battery replacement program has been going on now for months and there is no definitive end in sight.

We scanned a handful of popular electrified vehicle forums on social media to see which new electric vehicle models former Chevrolet Bolt owners had purchased instead. What we found was remarkable. Nearly every forum we looked at had examples of former Bolt owners posting up stories about how they abandoned the model, and worse, the brand in some cases. The posts we list here included images of the new vehicles the owners took home in most cases. Here is a selection of posts we have edited for length from actual owners and a few from folks still waiting for a resolution to their Bolt buyback from GM:

Chevy Bolt Owners Turn to Toyota
I’m so excited to be joining the Toyota RAV4 Prime family today from sunny California. I was at my wit's end with GM and all the problems with the Chevy Bolt battery fire issues. That’s my old Bolt giving me dirty looks as I pick up my new sweet red ride! (This poster gave us permission to use her image at the top of the page).

I take delivery of a brand new Toyota RAV4 Prime SE tomorrow in exchange for a better than even swap of my Silverado! I got the truck about 6 weeks in an MSRP Swap with GM for my Chevy Bolt with a bad battery. The Toyota quality advantage over the GM products is obvious.

Bolt Owners Turn to Kia
Goodbye to our 2021 Bolt. Sold it and replaced it with a 2022 Kia Niro. The Buyback process was a nightmare, so we sold it to save time.

We finally have a buyback offer for our Chevy Bolt. Got paid $5k for driving a car for 5 years. Personally, Kia’s EV6 looks good in the short term.

No more Chevy Bolt recall fiasco.Hello to my new 2022 Kia EV6 GT Line. (Image of the car in owner’s driveway included in post)

Chevy Bolt Owners Turn to Hyundai
After three years owning a Chevy Bolt, we sold it back to GM. Bought a Hyundai Ioniq 5 SE off the dealer’s lot in California.

Our Chevy Bolt was written off as a lemon. We’re thrilled to have found a new Hyundai Ioniq 5 SEL. The market adjustment from the dealer was under 1K.

Chevy Bolt Owners Turn to Ford
Went from a Bolt to a 2022 Bolt EUV. After a few days of driving the EUV, it was recalled. We bought a Ford Mustang Mach-e. GM has lost this brand-loyal family.

We purchased a Ford Mustang Mach-e today. Previously had a Chevrolet Bolt.

Ordering a Mustang Mach E Premium as soon as the repurchase of my Chevy Bolt goes through.

Owned a Chevy Bolt for nearly five years, and waiting on a buyback offer from GM. I'm seriously considering the Ford Mustang Mach-e.

I am getting my Chevy Bolt bought back because I do not like burning things down. Looking at the Ford Mustang Mach-e.

Chevrolet Bolt Owners Turn to Volkswagen
Just bought the ID.4. Had a Bolt EUV Launch Edition reservation but gave it up. My Bolt was bought back by GM and needed a car quick. Didn’t realize how much we would like this VW.

Sold my Chevy Bolt back to GM this week. I loved that car and it will be missed. Bought a VW ID.4. Husband drives a Tesla.

Bolt Resulting In Conquest Sales By Other Brands
As you can see, the GM Bolt recall has driven loyal, once-happy Chevy owners to new brands who have affordable EVs they can deliver now. These migrations of happy owners from one brand to a new one are called conquest sales by automakers and they are highly sought after. With no new affordable GM model coming in the next year or more, this migration will likely continue.

Added Post-Publication - What About Bolt Owners Turning to Tesla?
Following the publication of this story, comments under social media where it appeared pointed to Tesla being omitted as an example. It was not an accident. While we would not be surprised if some Chevy Bolt owners with the budget to switch to Tesla did so, our searches using the same methods that revealed the easy-to-find examples above came up empty. We specifically used the same keyword search, "Chevy Bolt," in three large online Tesla forums with a total of over 80,000 members. The clubs had the titles, Tesla Model Y Enthusiasts, Tesla Owners Online ModelS/3X/Y Cybertruck Semi Roadster, and TESLA MODEL 3 Owners Club. Over the period of the recall, or even as far back as early 2021, we didn't find any examples of Bolt owners abandoning the brand for Tesla due to the recall or associated issues. We did find one example of a person from prior to that period who posted saying they had traded in their Bolt for a Model Y. This is not much of a surprise. Tesla vehicles have a cost of at least double the cost of a Bolt. In some cases, Tesla vehicles can cost 4-times as much. Tesla owners feel slighted if every story isn't focused on them, so we made the decision to add this paragraph after hearing their concerns. We hope they keep reading. We cover Tesla topics in-depth with multiple writers every day.

Editorial Commentary
Please allow us to add an editorial comment and express our opinion on the Bolt, Bolt EUV, and their return to the market. If Chevrolet and GM continue to repair the vehicles owners have in their possession, repair and return the Bolts bought back to the market as used vehicles and then resumes production of the new Bolts and Bolt EUVs, it will prove to the world that GM is committed to making affordable BEVs work for the American consumer. Every crisis is in some way an opportunity. GM hasn't entered into the unfortunate situation entirely of its own doing. A key supply partner had a setback. However, owning this issue and making it right will prove that GM has the will to overcome such setbacks on its path to its all-electric future.

Those looking for up-to-date information on the Bolt battery recall can find it at The Facebook Chevrolet Bolt and EUV Owners club. There is a pinned post the admin set up that discusses just the buyback topic. It has over 1,000 comments from owners. If you are a Chevy Bolt owner looking for more information, we suggest this as a starting point. The club is well-run by the admin and moderators. and the overall vibe is upbeat and positive.

Top of page image used with permission of Torque News reader M.F. Image of GM President Mark Reuss courtesy of General Motors' media page.

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's interest in EVs goes back to 1990 when he designed the thermal control system for an EV battery as part of an academic team. After earning his mechanical engineering degree, John completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers, in the semiconductor industry, and in biotech. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American news outlets and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on TikTok @ToknCars, on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin

Re-Publication. If you wish to re-use this content, please contact Torque News for terms and conditions.


Subscribe to Torque News on YouTube.


Follow Torque News on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

Comments

Yep, this is all true. The announcements that GM is "leading" the nation in EVs is made that much more hollow because they were (and are) only selling the Bolt. And with no EV (or EREV like the Volt) to fall back on, they are losing EV sales every day. And the $113K GMC Hummer, and upcoming Cadillac Lyriq don't really count when it comes to GM offering affordable EVs.
Chevrolet is not losing this customer. I had a deposit down for a Rivian R1S, but cancelled it due to Rivian's production problems. I'm now looking forward to an electric Blazer. (Estimated range over 300 and maybe close to 400.) Advance statements by GM said the electric/battery Blazer will be available in early 2023. Electric/battery Equinoxes are due in late 2023. (I think this is will be the replacement for the Bolt.) Both dates are earlier than when I would get Rivian's R1S.
This is a comment we really appreciate, Bill B. Thank you for adding it. The Equinox looks very exciting. Hopefully, the Bolt line will be a bridge to those coming new models and will return to the market very soon.
What have seen most of conversions of Bolt owners going to Tesla. A small missed point. Are you joe Biden?
Don, thank you very much for adding this comment. We saw some similar ones under social media posts of the story. We have added a new section to this story that will answer your Tesla-related question in detail.
Why should we be surprised by any of this? Chevy has had frequent stinkers, maybe mostly stinkers when it comes to reliability. Some engineering brilliance (the Bolt, the new Corvette, most recently), but drops the ball on consistently turning out good cars. Even knowing that though, I was strongly considering a Bolt, based on a friend's experience. Then last few months have happened and it's unlikely I would ever consider owning a GM car of any sort. I just put a deposit on a 2022 Nissan Leaf SV Plus.