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It's a little unclear how much of the condescending attitude towards the Bolt is coming from Barra and how much of it is coming from the interviewer, but the Bolt is essentially dismissed as a "compromised" design which was well-intentioned but proved disappointing. (The New York Times does have a paywall but any javascript blocker will allow you to get around it.)
 

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It's a little unclear how much of the condescending attitude towards the Bolt is coming from Barra and how much of it is coming from the interviewer, but the Bolt is essentially dismissed as a "compromised" design which was well-intentioned but proved disappointing. (The New York Times does have a paywall but any javascript blocker will allow you to get around it.)
Many on this forum really won't want to create an account or install a javascript blocker just to read the article, can you provide some highlights?
 

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Many on this forum really won't want to create an account or install a javascript blocker just to read the article, can you provide some highlights?
Everything said about the Bolt is in these three paragraphs.
Font Screenshot Number Document Electric blue
 

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Their thinking about quality came into play when G.M. started mapping out its long-term E.V. strategy. In late 2016 the Chevrolet Bolt hit the market. A small car with limited interior space and a battery range of 238 miles, well short of the range most Teslas offered at the time, it achieved only modest sales.

Because of a defect in battery packs made by LG, all 141,000 Bolts sold in the United States from 2017 to 2021 were recalled to have their packs replaced. The recall forced G.M. to stop making Bolts last fall. Production restarted last month.

To ensure that a second wave of E.V.s could generate profits and reach volume sales, Ms. Barra’s executive team concluded that the company could not make compromises as it did with the Bolt. Their aim was for the company to build E.V.s from the ground up, find cost reductions and manufacture the battery packs itself. G.M. has estimated that the Ultium design will cut the cost of battery packs by 30 percent.
I agree it is oddly dismissive of the Bolt, the first semi-affordable EV available countrywide. But it provides no context (when the Bolt was being designed, the only long range EVs cost $60k+ and had ranges of... ~250 miles).

The article also doesn't ask the obvious question - if EVs are such a big deal, why did it it take 6 years to develop their second one?
 

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The article also doesn't ask the obvious question - if EVs are such a big deal, why did it it take 6 years to develop their second one?
GM as all legacies to varying degrees, has been dragging their feet. This is a fluff piece, seriously lacking in hard hitting journalism, so that question did not come up.

The article did discuss how far GM is behind Tesla though, with recent production numbers too. Also the fact that Ford beat them to market with a pickup by using a modified ICE platform. Mary Barra claimed to be unconcerned, saying in effect that GM is playing a long game.

Otherwise, the article discussed the Ultium platform, and the four battery plants going online between this year and 2025. According to the article, building battery plants is one area where Ford is behind GM.

Also Barra stressed the need for more affordable EVs, and how that is part of GM's strategy. The cost efficiencies of the Ultium platform is how she said they will bring lower priced EVs to market.

In general, there is little in this article that we don't already know, and nothing earth shattering.
 

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The article also doesn't ask the obvious question - if EVs are such a big deal, why did it it take 6 years to develop their second one?
GM as all legacies to varying degrees, has been dragging their feet.
It is worth considering the traditional business models traditional auto makers have followed for generations. Concept to market cycles were typically 5-7 years which was fine for a relatively mature technology of ICE. So, as a new or re-designed model hit the market, the design teams would shift gears and start working on the next generation. This worked well in that a 5-7 year run of sales recovered dev costs and provided some profit margins for the companies. Design teams were mostly vertically integrated, with perhaps engine and transmission development teams working independent. But the engine and transmission were a lower % of the total package than BEV platform components.

EV technology is rapidly changing and doesn't lend itself to these long-tailed concept to market cycles. GM announced over 2 years ago that they were re-organizing and implementing a goal of cutting concept to market cycles to under 2 years. The foundation for this approach is separating the Ultium platform from the model development teams. It may take a few years to achieve the goal of 24 month cycles, but Ultium is just now reaching market and Ultium 2 prototypes are apparently already being tested. So, if the platform team is able to achieve the rapid cycles, the model teams only have to bolt their sheet metal on to the latest underlying platform to come out with a new and improved model.

In the new business model, profits have to be realized sooner, so using a shared platform, which is a larger % of the total cost, they have to drive volumes up. Each model contributes to recovering platform dev costs, and the model dev costs are fairly small and easier to recover. Add the fact that GM is sharing the platform with Honda/Acura to drive volumes up, and cost reductions due to falling battery manufacturing costs (due to process improvements and volume), and the profit margins are potentially easier to achieve.

All of this means future BEVs can be sold at more affordable prices.

My guess is, Bolt development was started around the 2012 timeframe when Volt arrived in the market. 5 years later, it was released, but during that time, tech advances were happening and the result was a car that was not pushing the envelope. By the time Bolt arrived, GM was probably re-focussing on Ultium based on what they learned on the Bolt project, so the Bolt platform development was halted and only cosmetic changes were made. In effect, GM likely already made the decision to abandon Bolt about the time it went to market.

As for compromises, I think GM approached Bolt with some trepidation. Would it sell? Would its quality live up to their standards? Would the charging infrastructure be adequate? It was a pretty bold move to jump into the BEV space at the time with so much uncertainty, after all, the only competitors at the time were Nissan and Tesla, most other EVs were short-range. So, I suspect they hedged their bets and purposely limited production by not investing heavily in battery production capacity.

With the lessons learned from the pilot project, they seem to be gearing up for far more competitive products. Will they succeed? Time will tell, but it seems too early to dismiss them given many other auto makers are just now, or still working on their pilot projects.
 

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It's a little unclear how much of the condescending attitude towards the Bolt is coming from Barra and how much of it is coming from the interviewer, but the Bolt is essentially dismissed as a "compromised" design which was well-intentioned but proved disappointing.
Barra is a smart lady. I read somewhere she herself drives a Bolt and a Corvette. She stays intimately involved in the business, is a great promoter all the while effectively handling the multitude of outside pressures on GM.

Doubt very much that the condescending attitude was in any way perpetrated by Barra (even if she has those thoughts).

If there’s any finger pointing to be done it might more appropriately be towards Reuss’ side. Letting GM Korea and LG get too much design & execution responsibility not under auspices of the mothership.

Bolt seems like a good candidate for future B-school cases.
 

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In the new business model, profits have to be realized sooner, so using a shared platform, which is a larger % of the total cost, they have to drive volumes up. Each model contributes to recovering platform dev costs, and the model dev costs are fairly small and easier to recover. Add the fact that GM is sharing the platform with Honda/Acura to drive volumes up, and cost reductions due to falling battery manufacturing costs (due to process improvements and volume), and the profit margins are potentially easier to achieve.
All of this means future BEVs can be sold at more affordable prices.
Making money in EVs seems to need vertical integration much more than ICE. I never considered the Bolt to be more than a learning tool for GM, and no doubt it's been a very expensive lesson. But, that's water under the bridge and they have the know how to succeed in EVs.
I would assume that the Lyriq and Blazer for example, will have the same underlying platform (with tweaks of course).
Rumor (from a dealer) is the next batch of Lyriq RWD will price at 63 and the AWD around 70. Surprisingly close to Model Y.
 
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With the lessons learned from the pilot project, they seem to be gearing up for far more competitive products. Will they succeed? Time will tell, but it seems too early to dismiss them given many other auto makers are just now, or still working on their pilot projects.
What you just wrote, was far more interesting and informative than the Times piece. Thank You!

It is too early to dismiss GM, although some seem to do so, because of their past mistakes. Bringing up the crushing of the EV1 yet again, or the fact they bought actual golf carts to meet standards is pointless. Those things happened under a management that no longer exists, and prior to the bankruptcy reorganization. It's just beating a dead horse.

Let's give this time to play out.
 

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Making money in EVs seems to need vertical integration much more than ICE.
My take is, the platform is a horizontal effort. The model development is the vertical part. Blazer, Equinox, and Silverado likely all have separate model dev teams focussed on the customer facing parts of the cars. The platform is developed by a separate team, for use on all GMC, Cadillac, Buick, Chevy models. That is not to say the respective model teams don't have integration work to do, but it is likely fairly trivial compared to having each product team involved in battery and eMotor design. In other words, more of a component approach versus a vertical integration involving all of the pieces. Again, ICE engine and transmission were a relatively small % of the cost components in the past vs Battery and electronics in the Ultium world. So, not entirely different model, but Ultium seems to go further than just drivetrain and gets into electronics too.
I never considered the Bolt to be more than a learning tool for GM, and no doubt it's been a very expensive lesson. But, that's water under the bridge and they have the know how to succeed in EVs.
I stated my reasons, but since they didn't invest in high volume capacity for the platform, and moved on after gen 1 was released, it is difficult to see Bolt as anything but a learning tool in my mind. Don't forget, LGE is footing the lions share of the battery recall costs, so GM is probably doing OK with Bolt financially.
I would assume that the Lyriq and Blazer for example, will have the same underlying platform (with tweaks of course). Rumor (from a dealer) is the next batch of Lyriq RWD will price at 63 and the AWD around 70. Surprisingly close to Model Y.
Cadillac is a premium brand for GM, so sure it would stand to reason prices would be up there. MY is perhaps a bit less desirable to luxury class buyers, I mean the spartan interior controls may have a certain appeal to adventurous souls, but luxury car buyers may be more traditional and like the buttons and knobs.

I worked for a phone equipment manufacturer. Toshiba approached us to jointly develop a phone with up to 99 buttons (most phones at the time had 10-15, not including dial pad, and optionally a button module attached to the side to expand it). The business case was Japanese business execs viewed phones with lots of buttons to be a status symbol, and button modules as wannabe important people's gear. The higher you get in the org, the more buttons on your desk phone. Never mind that they typically only used a dozen of the buttons, but they had speed dials for all of their managers and family. So don't discount the appeal of traditional buttons and knobs in cutting edge BEVs.

I suspect the rumored Lyriq prices reflect a 30-40% or better markup over similar sized Blazer/Equinox. I believe they will all share a 100kWh pack, so the underlying drivetrains should be virtually identical. Differentiators then will be cutting edge comfort, convenience and safety features, and a status surcharge. Cadillac will probably get things like Ultra-Cruise a few years before other models, maybe Buick getting things second, then GMC and Chevy. Hummer may be an exception and get cutting edge things first too, and the EV pickup wars may create a high end model with cutting edge stuff in the other brands.
 

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I agree it is oddly dismissive of the Bolt, the first semi-affordable EV available countrywide. But it provides no context (when the Bolt was being designed, the only long range EVs cost $60k+ and had ranges of... ~250 miles).

The article also doesn't ask the obvious question - if EVs are such a big deal, why did it it take 6 years to develop their second one?
Well, there were about 4 years in that period when GM was on the bandwagon of ending EV requirements, during a certain federal Administration. To GM's credit, when things changed they crawled back aboard the EV wagon, but those years of fighting it hurt.

The Bolt very much is a compromise, but it was what could be done within corporate bounds at the time. GM of the mid-teens wasn't going to spend money it didn't have to on a EV, so the Bolt ended up a very good compliance car, but a compliance car nevertheless. Basic compliance car definition: an EV you have to build for certain regulatory environments (think California), but that you aren't going to sell in large numbers. So the goal is not to make money; it's to minimize loss on a small production volume. Since they now have to make money on EVs, things have changed and they're actually engineering for the mainstream and profit per car. And they're at least a year too late (after Ford) doing that.
 

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Well, there were about 4 years in that period when GM was on the bandwagon of ending EV requirements, during a certain federal Administration. To GM's credit, when things changed they crawled back aboard the EV wagon, but those years of fighting it hurt.
I read a lot of different analysis of GM stance during the previous administration. Were they against EV mandates? Or did they not want to be forced to invest in both EV and ICE tech. With increased CAFE requirements, investments are needed to improve efficiency and/or reduce emissions. Or, were they simply willing to go along with whatever way the winds were blowing at the time?

I don't mean to say excuse them for their stand, but they kept moving forward with EV programs despite the press criticism.
Since they now have to make money on EVs, things have changed and they're actually engineering for the mainstream and profit per car. And they're at least a year too late (after Ford) doing that.
A year behind Ford? Sure, GM's 2nd generation tech is a year behind Ford's 1st generation tech. Both dabbled in low volume compliance cars before going big on EVs, but we have yet to see how Ultium will stack up against Ford's current tech. And, a year is not a huge factor in long term trends. In some ways, GM is a year ahead of Ford, their internal restructuring around an EV specific organization was 2 years ahead of Ford.

We should start learning some of the technical specs of Ultium with Lyriq, Hummer, and soon the 3 Chevy models. Will charging curves be superior? We already know peak 190kW is expected on 100kWh packs, and much higher on the larger packs with 800V charging capabilities. What are peak Ford charging speeds? I think 150kW and pathetically slow over 80% (though improved with an update).

Competition is a funny thing if you focus on specs and not the whole picture. The re-org at GM has UItium 2 programs in testing already, how far along is Ford with their next gen BEV platform?
 

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In this interview with Mark Reuss, he talks about GM's mistakes/mindset when the Bolt was introduced and also comments on the "loyal, passionate Bolt community - almost Corvette-like". Long interview; skip to about 57:00 for the Bolt section.
 

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The NY Times article is about GMs EV strategy vs other companies, mainly Ford and Tesla. The author disparages the Bolt a little, calling the battery issue a "debacle" which, from the company's point of view is probably fair. He says the Bolt has "limited interior space", without telling us which vehicles have unlimited interior space, but I think it's fair to say that the Bolt is too small for the vast majority of American car buyers. His one ridiculous criticism is of the Bolt's range, saying it's less than Tesla's and stating it as 238.
 

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I don't know of any convertible EVs on the market right now.
That's "unlimited headroom" not "unlimited space." Most convertibles I've seen have very cramped back seats after allowing for the retractable-top machinery.

Edit: OTOH, I could see somebody chopping the top on a Bolt, adding some bracing to replace it, and doing a VW Beetle convertible type of thing...
 

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Amazing discussion so far. I think GM is going to be playing catch-up for 5-10 years. I think whatever Ford comes up with in the small truck segment is going to blow up the market as much as the F150 did and GM's entrant into the segment will be years behind. They'll have good products but even in the models where they actually lead the pack they'll still have gotten there late to the game.

Everything subject to market forces. Who the heck knows who has what supply of lithium and cobalt to be able to manufacture what.
 

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Amazing discussion so far. I think GM is going to be playing catch-up for 5-10 years. I think whatever Ford comes up with in the small truck segment is going to blow up the market as much as the F150 did and GM's entrant into the segment will be years behind. They'll have good products but even in the models where they actually lead the pack they'll still have gotten there late to the game.

Everything subject to market forces. Who the heck knows who has what supply of lithium and cobalt to be able to manufacture what.
GM has a Colorado EV in the pipeline but they haven't publicly said anything about it yet.
 
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