A year ago, things weren't looking so hot.
When the Chevrolet Bolt was launched for 2017, electric vehicle enthusiasts were disappointed by its rather uninspiring design. Its five-door hatchback body style wasn't terrible, but the Bolt lacked the sex appeal of Tesla. Then again, the Bolt is classified as an affordable EV, with a starting price of around $35,000 before incentives and tax rebates. It competes directly against the Nissan Leaf, Honda Clarity, and Toyota Prius Prime. In other words, its styling matched the competition.
Technically speaking, the Bolt is quite impressive and for 2020 received an EPA-certified range update from 238 to 259 miles on a single charge. But even before the updated 2020 Bolt arrives, Chevrolet has reported an impressive third-quarter sales report for its EV, which remains the best-selling affordable EV in the US.
All told, 4,830 Bolts were sold. In September alone, 2,125 Bolts were sold. To compare, in September 2018 only 1,549 units left dealership lots. It should also be noted that sales of the Leaf, Honda Clarity, and Prius Prime were also down last month. Even Tesla Model 3 sales didn't meet expectations, for what it's worth. There's one possible reason why, though this is unconfirmed, as to why Chevy Bolt sales experienced an increase: federal tax incentives.
For those keeping track, GM crossed the 200,000-unit EV threshold late last March, thus kicking in the gradual reduction of the $7,500 tax break buyers receive. Therefore, on April 1 that tax credit was sliced in half to $3,750. On the first day of this month, it was again cut in half to $1,875.
It's possible potential Bolt buyers were aware of the October 1 deadline and wisely made a purchase in September. Chevrolet also offered its own incentives, such as rebates and dealer discounts. Given the state of Bolt sales only a year ago, it's nice to see a solid increase before the improved 2020 models are fully factored in. Chevrolet is set to launch an all-new EV sometime next year and it will ride on an all-new platform that will underpin several future battery electrics as well.
In the meantime, the Bolt remains America's best-selling affordable EV and it's about to get even better for the new model year.