Chevy Bolt
Douglas Stansfield's picture

Chevy Bolt vs Chevy Volt - Is Chevy Bolt Going to Cannibalize on Chevy Volt Sales?

Is the Chevy Bolt going to cannibalize on Chevy Volt sales? It seems like GM is actually competing with itself when you look at the deliverables of these two vehicles in my opinion. At the moment, we have 40 to 50 miles of electric range with the 2017 Chevy Volt and 240 miles of EV Range in the Chevy Bolt.

Regarding the traction battery configuration of the the Chevy Bolt vs the Chevy Volt, the Bolt has a 60 Kw Battery and 150 Kw Motor and 266 ft pounds of torque (we are Torque News so I knew I had to put that in there.) The Volt on the other hand has slightly higher Torque numbers 294 Ft Lbs of Torque. The Bolt has a significantly larger battery pack (150kw vs 18.4 kw) which has 288 battery cells structured within 10 modules.

The Chevy Bolt vs the Chevy Volt in terms of battery: the Bolt wins every time. The Volt has less seating head room in the back so the middle seat is really only useful for small children. The Chevy Bolt Vs. Chevy Volt comparison leans toward the Bolt for a true 5 passenger seating configuration.

So why would I think that the Chevy Bolt would Cannibalize Chevy Volt sales?

We all know that the gas engine kicks in after the 50 miles of range in the Chevy Volt with the range extender making it a long range car. Previously, I’ve written about the facts and figures of Chevy Volt drivers that show a very high percentage of the time the Chevy Volt stays within the Electric mode of driving thus validating the original design idea of 40 miles of EV Range which is the average daily driving miles of Americans. The Chevy Volt does have an appeal to people that want to drive electric around town but once or twice a year drive a kid away to school someplace far from home or go to see relatives or some other reason. So if we look at the difference between what happened with traditional drivers that drive over the 40 miles average (range of the average consumer) it seems to me that we're looking at a huge difference in terms of what the Chevy Bolt will do to Chevy Volt sales.

Since the Chevy Volt was designed to take care of most of everyone's daily driving with the 35 to 40 miles of electric range originally (2010 version of the Volt), then added in the gas powered part of the car affectionately known as “the range extender” to give the early EV adopters the ability to plug is but also drive everywhere.

Do consumers really need a range extender when you have 240 miles of electric range?

That’s the question that GM is going to find out very shortly with the recent introduction of the Chevy Bolt. Time will tell whether or not consumers will opt now for the all-electric version Chevy Bolt. Will consumers opt of the Chevy bolt with their 240 miles of range or will they go for the range extender for that occasional trip to grandma's house down in Florida if they live in New York or vise versa.

These are big questions that GM has to worry about. Is it really something that's going to bother GM if they cannibalize on the Chevy Volt brand? Maybe not. I'm sure the Chevy Volt owners originally didn't want to go for a Nissan Leaf with its 95 miles of range because of range anxiety in the first place. But what if Chevy has some promotion for Nissan Leaf owners? So if you ended up going with the Chevy Volt with a range extender initially because it had that long range driving option so that most of the time you could drive around on electric and plug in when you were home, you would get the charge up overnight for your daily driving.

Chevy Volt Coming Off The Lease - Opting for Bolt?

However, now we have the opportunity for those same consumers for example if your Chevy Volt is coming off lease would you opt for the Chevy Bolt? I'm sure that is the case because what's going to happen is 240 miles range is 6 times more than the average driving distance of a typical American family. So if you're only driving 40 miles or less and you've got 240 miles of range in your new Chevy Bolt you really have the opportunity to truly take advantage of the existing charging infrastructure for your one or two or three long range trips you take per year. In terms of time, 240 miles of driving range at 60 miles an hour is 4 full hours of driving (assuming constant 60 miles per hour speed) That is a full ½ a day or work for most Americans that work 8 hour days.

Volt vs Bolt Range

Most people will want to take a break after that much driving and that is a perfect opportunity to charge the car and take a break. According to GM using a CCS fast charger you will get 90 miles of charge every 30 minutes. So in 1 hour you would have another 180 miles of range and at 60 miles an hour will be 3 more full hours of driving. So in this example, you would be driving 7 hours with a 1 hour break in the middle with enough range to drive 420 total miles. I don’t know about you but after driving that far, I’m ready for a break. To put this in more reasonable distance comparison, if you drive from New York City to Boston it is 216 Miles. New York to Pittsburg PA is 371 miles. So you start to see the picture of how a long range EV at a competitive retail price, truly can become the daily driver of many of the people in this country.

Range has always been the issue with electric cars and long-range electric cars have typically only been reserved for the wealthy that could afford to buy the Tesla which until now was the longest range electric car to date and that is what is the standard bearer of EV range is for today (See 2017 Chevy Bolt vs Tesla Model 3 detailed comparison). Now enter the Chevy Bolt. The Bolt has the opportunity to truly take on the latest Tesla Motors offering, the Tesla Model 3, in terms of price and range. It'll be interesting to see whether or not we have an increase in Bolt purchases versus Chevy Volt purchasers.

Charging Chevy Volt vs Charging Chevy Bolt

Additionally, another thing to look at is the increase in the number of DC fast Chargers that are becoming readily available in metropolitan areas. The DC fast-charging according to Chevy will give us at least 90 plus miles of range for approximately a half-hour of charge time. So in about two and a half hours you can fully charge up the 240 miles of range. With that calculation GM has been very shady in terms of what they are allowing us to know about the amount of amperage going into the battery pack and at what rate we still haven’t any feedback on this from GM.

dc fast charger map

So based on this information, I decided to do a real world test to see if I could buy a Chevy Volt and drive from my home in Sussex County NJ and drive to Pittsburg to visit a friend. According to PlugShare, there are no CCS fast chargers available in the heart of PA which is where I would need to charge. Therefore, that trip would still need to be done in the Chevy Volt. However if my friend lived in Maryland there are plenty of CCS chargers listed on Plugshare for that trip to MD.
So in conclusion, I have no doubt that many Chevy Volt Leases will be converted over to Chevy Bolt leases/purchases. There is a migration that will be happening over time as more and more gas car drivers will be moving over to pure EV drivers. This is the case will many hybrid and plug in hybrid drivers. Many people will be migrating toward pure EV cars.

Sign-up to our email newsletter for daily perspectives on car design, trends, events and news, not found elsewhere.


I live in the SF Bay Area, where there are lots of chargers in commercial areas. My commute to work, the kids schools, and various recreational amenities are all close at hand. But I also love driving adventures that take me out of the suburbs and off to grand places. Only the Volt would able to handle both types of transportation needs.
If you travel far and wide, then the Volt is great as it has extra gas miles. If you review your everyday trips and measure the miles, you might want to look into the Bolt because with 240 miles and 4 hours of driving range, most of the time, a CCS in the middle of the trip isn't a bad option. Have some food, bathroom break etc. Thanks for reading and commenting and driving EV.
I do think the Bolt will start to steal sales from the Volt. However, it seems to me the cars it will really hurt are the Leaf, Soul EV, BMW i3, and the rest of the barely-selling short-range fully electric EVs. So far, the Volt and Prius Prime are ahead of the Bolt in US. It will be fun to see how that race goes this year. If the Tesla Model 3 arrives at some point, one would assume the BMW i3 and Model S will also pretty much fade away to obscurity. The i3 may be hurt the most by the one-two punch of the Bolt and Model 3.
Time will tell how things shape out. The Model 3 and Model Y Tesla may truly impact these car markets big time but they are going to lose some momentum because of GMs release of the Bolt in my view.
Volt's continued sales success further reminds us that the Volt is a unique class of vehicle and not a direct competitor with pure EV's like the Bolt and LEAF. For those who witnessed the Volt roll-out in 2011-2012, the Bolt sales numbers should look very familiar. The Volt had similar issues with availability and it too was only available in limited markets most of the first year. Do not expect to see full Bolt sales numbers until 2018.