GM announced two weeks ago that it would be supporting Donald Trump’s rollback of EV emissions standards by siding with the administration vs. California. You would think that GM – with its pioneering Bolt EV and “zero emissions future” initiatives – would support lowering emissions. But something has gone terribly wrong at GM over the past few years in EVs.
The latest indication of this is an announcement that the company would be releasing a Menlo crossover EV – which would likely do well in a US market – in China alone.
On Friday, GM announced the Chevy Menlo EV, which it purports to have a 410km (250mi) range NEDC (yes, you read that right: they are still using the outdated standard). While this is probably a lot closer to 200 miles of WLTP or EPA range, it would still be a very compelling car for the US and frankly, we were expecting GM to have released this type of vehicle domestically by now.
The Chevy Menlo EV sports the “athletic design of the Chevrolet FNR-X all-purpose sports concept vehicle, which exemplified the brand’s passion for innovation and ingenuity.”
GM Electric Vehicle strategy
In the crossover class, GM has previously described its Bolt as a micro crossover. But at best it is a hot hatchback. Realistically, the Bolt would do best in Europe, where the small B segment type vehicles rule the road. It is too bad GM sold Opel – with its hot Ampera E Bolt variant – to PSA group right as sales were getting off the ground. Renault’s Zoe, the best selling EV in Europe, doesn’t hold a candle to the 2016 Bolt, even in its 2020 model year.
In the US, Micro-anything cars just don’t sell in big numbers. To make matters worse, Chevy’s dealer network incentivizes ever bigger cars and trucks.
GM first announced the Menlo in August and at that point we were wondering what had happened to the two EVs that GM was supposed to announce based on their “EV learnings.”
The automaker also promised to launch within the next 18 months two new electric cars building on the Bolt EV’s development:
“In the next 18 months, GM will introduce two new all-electric vehicles based off learnings from the Chevrolet Bolt EV.”
As we reported earlier this year, it has now been more than 18 months and we have yet to see those new electric vehicles.
GM disagreed, countering our report with the claim that the company had already released those two vehicles: the Buick Velite 6 EV and Baojun E200, two China-only vehicles produced by joint-venture partnerships in China.
The problem is that neither of those vehicles has anything to do with the Chevy Bolt EV.
However, we know that GM has been working on a utility version of the Bolt EV, which is likely what GM really had in mind in its 2017 announcement.
Furthermore, GM filed for a ‘Bolt EUV’ trademark earlier this year.
At last month’s 2020 Bolt EV drive event, the only real difference from the Bolt prototype we drove in January 2016 was the LG Chem cells having improved 10% in range.
GM has announced that it will invest $300M into its Orion Plant where the Bolt is produced, to manufacture another EV based on the Bolt. GM has also said its next major US EV will be a Cadillac, with the below image as a teaser. GM is also considering reviving its Hummer brand with a revamped EV.