Local Chevy dealer doesn't plan to stock any Bolts because... get this...

Local Chevy dealer doesn't plan to stock any Bolts because... get this...

I happened to be next door to a newly relocated and greatly expanded Chevy dealer in my town in south central PA, so I swung in there on impulse to see if they had any Bolts on the lot. I have no interest in owning one, but was nonetheless curious enough to stop in to see it in person.
I didn't intend to interact with anyone and waste their time (just wanted to pull up next to one and check it out), but I was flagged down and approached by a salesman as soon as I turned into the lot. I was honest about my reason for stopping in today.
The conversation went something like this...

Me: Do you have any Bolts in stock?
Dealer: Bolts? You mean the electric ones? No.
Me: I see. Are they still that scarce?
Dealer: PA is not an "electric required" state, so we don't plan to stock any.
Me: (pause, as I attempt not come across as an EV troll) I didn't know that, I mean, you stock gas and diesel vehicles and I'm sure the state doesn't require you to do so.
Dealer: I mean we can get them, but don't plan to keep any on the lot.
Me: (still trying to ease the situation) Are many people asking about them?
Dealer: No. (looks into the distance to avoid eye contact - as if he'd get in trouble if he were to order one for someone)
Me: I understand. You wouldn't want to sit on inventory that isn't in demand.

He glanced over my dirty, daily driven inconspicuous ICE car as the conversation came to an end.
So, either he felt I was there to waste his time, or didn't want to talk about anything but selling me something from the lot today.
I thanked him for his time and went on my way.

carlk | May 26, 2018

Yes from day one we knew Bolt was just a compliance car in addition to the PR value. GM was trying to make it to sound like a Model 3 cometitor/killer but its plan was only to make only 25~30K of them.

Tropopause | May 26, 2018

Maybe we should call the Model 3, the "Dealership Killer".

sosmerc | May 26, 2018

Not my experience at all when I checked out the Bolt with my local dealer. They were excited about it and threw me the keys and said go drive it......and I did, without a salesman in the car with me. Maybe the fact that I had just bought a new Volt from them had something to do with it :).....but really, my salesman was very impressed with the Bolt. I have talked again with him since that day (almost a year ago) and he says they are selling all they can get their hands on. It's a winner and they could certainly sell more. I have heard this from another dealer as well. So apparently not all dealers are against EV's.

Yodrak. | May 26, 2018

"apparently not all dealers are against EV's"

Agree. Dealers are not a homogenous group, they set their own priorities and policies to a great extent.

Tesla2018 | May 27, 2018

I have never seen one on the road. I was at thr Barrett-Jackson auction last month and Chevy had a display set up with all their models and they had one. Only one person was looking at it, everyone else was looking at the new Corvettes and ZR1 Camaro. Chevy and Dodge were giving rides in Corvettes and Hellcats on a track they made in the parking lot but I wish Tesla had been thete with a Ludicrous model.

carlk | May 27, 2018

Elon made Tesla cars S3XY. Others made their EV dull and unispired. You can pretty much tell from that what their intentions are.

NoMoPetrol | May 27, 2018

No problem seeing them in SoCal. Not as frequently as we see Teslas and Leafs, but they are out there. And, like sosmerc, our local dealership has had a steady though small supply of them at all times for the last year.

johnyi | May 27, 2018

Checked inventory at my local Chevy dealer. This is a city that has a Tesla showroom, and plenty of tech companies that have charging on site, Leafs in the parking lot, etc (but nothing like SoCal). Corvettes: 20. Camaro's: 16. Silverado's: 29. Tahoe's: 25. Sparks: 8. Impalas: 5. Malibu's: 5. Volt: 1. Bolts? 1 "in transit". MSRP $44K. So they don't even have one to look at.

There is one in my company parking lot, but many more Volts, even new gen ones. Lots of Leafs too, and MS/MX's. Even a M3 now.

Apparently they are only selling ~1500/mo after the initial wave last year when they were selling about twice that many. So the big question, are they not selling because no one wants the MT car of the year for 2017, or because Chevy isn't making them?

Tesla2018 | May 27, 2018

I wonder if it has to do with how many miles people drive daily. It saves money to go electric, but if you go away on weekends like from NY to the Poconos or to beach locations, or from eastern CA to Vegas or the beach it isnt worth having to stop at a public charging station to make it there, so people might use hybrids.
One of my coworkers has to travel to varipus offices that are either 75 miles north or south of her home, so home charging would be Ok. But she wouldnt be able to go to Orlando on weekends to see her kids so she bought a Prius.

jordanrichard | May 27, 2018

There are 10 states that follow CA’s lead for emissions. It is primarily in those states that you will see Bolts actively being sold. Just as was pointed out in the OPs conversation with that salesman, PA is not one of those 10 states, so they will not make an effort to sell them.

johnyi | May 27, 2018

Still, something like a Bolt makes perfect sense as a commuter car if your spouse has an ICE vehicle (or Tesla) for family trips. I've had my hybrid for 8 years now, and have gone more than 70 miles from home maybe once a year. And I'm pretty typical in my neighborhood - everyone has two cars in the garage.

I know Tesla fanbois keep harping on the Supercharger network as the only way to sell EV's, but I just think there's a huge untapped market out there for EV commuters. Something with long enough range you don't need to worry about charging mid-day, but never expected to make road trips. A Bolt, i-Pace, e-Tron, or similar ~200 mile range EV should potentially sell very well. Of course, the SR M3 should sell even better given the SC network as a backup.

jordanrichard | May 27, 2018

Johnyi, the cost of a Bolt, e-torn, i3 and especially a Jag i-Pace is way too much money for just a putting around town car. You can buy a Honda Fit for a lot less and if need be a Fit could be driven several hundred miles without any inconvenience. That can’t be said of the Bolt, i-Pace, i3 etc.

jerrykham | May 27, 2018

Huh, We went to see them at the Dublin, CA chevy dealer. There were about 5 of them in the lot - right near the street. I decided they were a bit too small so we didn't even get all the way onto the lot. Then the wife - who had been planning this the whole time - took me to the Dublin Tesla showroom and we ended up buying the model S. But that Chevy dealer had at least 5 Bolts if not more. Someone I know from work just bought one there. You see quite a few of them on the road in the East Bay area of CA.

RenEnergy | May 27, 2018

Similar experience as OP; stopped in dealership to inquire about the Bolt and salesman disinterested. Left contact info for further contact, never heard peep.

Mike83 | May 27, 2018

A friend who has a Bolt tried to charge it at the dealership but they said it didn't work. She had to use a nearby Chargepoint and wait hours to charge. C'mon this is GM

dmm1240 | May 27, 2018

Ever seen the documentary: Who Killed the Electric Car?

In the 1970s, GM joined with big oil to quash a Congressional mandate to transition from leaded to unleaded gasoline with a disingenuous disinformation campaign. Congress stuck to its guns because science showed that leaded gas was harming the public. Imagine that, Congress acting to benefit the people. It used to happen from time to time. (For reference watch the episode of Cosmos that tells the story).

Fast forward to the 1990s. GM became curious about the possibility of electric cars and built a hundred or so, handed them out to families and installed chargers in their garages to see if they were practical. People participating in the project loved their EVs. They were crude by modern Tesla standards, but hey it was the 1990s. Then GM received a ton of grief from big oil and caved. They rounded up the EVs and crushed them into scrap metal. There's a poignant scene in the documentary where some of the folks who were in the study watch as their cars are collected and taken away like they're watching a family pet being put down.

What could have been. If GM had ignored Exxon, the Kochs, et al and continued on with the project, by now they would have making electric cars down cold. Tesla probably wouldn't even exist. GM could have brought a couple of nice EV models to market circa 2010 and crushed Musk and his Roadster like a bug.

Now, little Tesla is threatening GM and every other carmaker. They're years behind in battery technology and are scrambling to secure them. GM recently had to lengthen the delivery schedule for the Bolt to a year in Canada because they don't have enough batteries to satisfy demand.

In between, GM almost went belly up when the economy crashed in 2008 and had to be bailed out by taxpayers. Think that episode would have been somewhat less perilous if GM had people lined up to buy their EVs like Tesla does now?

Never depend on a corporation to act in the public good on anything substantial. They are amoral. We can never forget that and it is true.

reed_lewis | May 27, 2018

When we bought my wife's Volt, I mentioned to the salesperson that I was thinking about a Bolt (This is before I test drove a Model S and of course we all know what happens when that you drive a Model S!). Anyways that dealership was not going to stock the Bolts because they had to purchase more expensive service equipment from GM in order to service the car, including DC charging equipment.

Now I do not know if this is really true, but there are a few dealers here in Mass that are pushing EVs with a passion. But there are other Chevy dealers who do not even carry the Volt.

I also went to a dealer a test drove a Bolt without a salesperson in the car. It might have been that I drove in the lot with my Model S perhaps, but they were selling them well. | May 28, 2018

I'm happy GM is making/selling the Bolt as it creates a bit more EV awareness. Looks like the Model 3 is crushing Bolt sales though. For first 4 months of 2018, Model 3 sales are more than double Bolt sales. This with Tesla fairly limited production. The trend is also scary - as more 3s are sold there is a direct decline in Bolt sales in the first four months this year.

The best Bolt sales month was Dec-17, with 3327 sold. By April-18, it's down to 1275, a 61% decline. Perhaps there are other factors at work (new Leaf, change in sales incentives), but I suspect the Model 3 is the primary cause of this decline.

SamO | May 28, 2018

GM says that they'll make 20,000 Bolts/year. Which they do. Hooray!

Tesla says they'll make 500,000 Model 3.year but only reach 250,000 run rate in May 2018 . . . lying scum!

GM the hero, Tesla the zero.

This is why stupid/evil people in charge of the media is a formula for more Drumpf.

nadurse | May 29, 2018

Dealers act differently in various areas of the country, I havent been to a chevy dealer in quite some time but I feel like if I did that in my area of northeast Ohio I would get the same type experience that the OP had. From what ive found, your experience at a dealer can vary widely depending on the sales person you get, *hint* they arent all winners. Such is another underrated benefit of the Tesla stores.

As for the Bolt, people can bash on GM/Bolt all they want, but its a good car lacking a charging infrastructure. That's the only thing that is compromised with the Bolt. Functionally its great, drives like a solid well built electric car and good passenger room and storage space. And despite the dealers' general dismay about EVs, you can buy a Bolt anywhere in the US relatively quickly if you want it. The price would keep me away from it though, because you are paying an electric premium for what is otherwise a regular/standard type of car. With the Model 3 I dont mind paying a premium for the car because IT IS a premium car, akin to BMW 3-series or mercedes C-class in price, style, and functionality.

I dont really see a point in comparing a Bolt to a Model 3 head to head because the are totally different cars, the only commonality is that they are relatively affordable, long range EVs. Maybe Ill scoop one up in 5 years as a 2nd car if they are a lot cheaper.

SamO | May 29, 2018

You can buy a Bolt at any GM dealer in Los Angeles County . . . but why would you?

reed_lewis | May 29, 2018

The only thing the Bolt and Model 3 have in common is that they are the only two EVs Less than $50K that have >200 miles of range on a charge.

There is no other EV being sold at that price point that has that kind of range.

I can see the market for both. There are a couple of Bolts who park in my office garage and use the chargepoint chargers. One has a a couple of cute bumper stickers... "This is my VoltsWagen", and "Poor Man's Tesla"

As @nadurse says, the Bolt is a perfectly acceptable car. It does not have the charging network of Tesla, but again, there are many people who do not drive long distances.

rxlawdude | May 29, 2018

The Bolt is a good alternative, if one doesn't mind driving a fugly car that is incompetent for road trips.

Seriously, with a 100 mile commute, the Bolt would make as much sense as my MS or M3, but having a car that you can never drive more than 200 miles (without waiting hours to charge) really tips the scale against it as a replacement for an ICE.

SamO | May 29, 2018

I've written, repeatedly in other threads, that Bolt is an overpriced city car.

Not a good value.

Not a suitable replacement for anything but city driving.

The value proposition will change when Bolt's price is dropped to $25,000.

The "city" label will be removed when GM or ANY OTHER COMPANY builds a network of fast chargers that allows a variety of travel options.

Until then . . . cannot recommend as a primary car. Too many compromises.

Kathy Applebaum | May 29, 2018

"a good car lacking a charging infrastructure. That's the only thing that is compromised with the Bolt. "

I'll respectfully disagree here. I looked long and hard at the Bolt while deciding if I'd take my husband's Model 3 reservation, and ultimately, it's way overpriced for what you get. For north of $40K, you get a car that's an EV version of a $20K car. (Also my complaint about the Leaf. Buying a used one for $13K was a great deal. New, not so much.) My Model 3 beats the pants off the similarly priced Lexus I was driving. The EV + charging infrastructure was a bonus.

I really, really hope that GM and Nissan get it together on the EV front, because they are the best contenders right now to compete with Tesla, and I think a healthy competition will be good for everyone -- both the companies involved and the driving public. But selling cars that are way overpriced for what you get isn't the way to move EV adoption forward. </rant>

reed_lewis | May 29, 2018

Again, everyone here is always looking at the world through the glasses of someone who drives long distances. There are many people who drive less than 100 miles ever. Do not think that everyone drives like you do.

As to looks, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some people do not care about the looks of a car.

If it was such a bad car, then they would not have sold as many as they did.

SamO | May 29, 2018


Respectfully, no. I don't look at it as someone who drives long distances . . . I look at it as an American who expects their car CAN go long distances.

The Leaf is proof positive that a city car cannot capture the imagination.

Even that person who only drives 100 miles from home wants to imagine going further. When you tell them that it is impossible without herculean efforts, long stops and uncertain infrastructure . . . i talk to these people every day and they have a self-image of freedom.

The younger kids . . .maybe not so much. But this car is too expensive for them.

TSLAholic | May 29, 2018

I do miss the luxury of owning a beater.
I see myself picking up a used leaf for trips to the dump, wally world (so that I could park like a normal shopper, closer than a half mile away from the entrance), and anywhere else local where I wouldn't mind door dings, scrapes, getting the interior dirty, etc.

jordanrichard | May 29, 2018

SamO +1.

Ability sells. Look at nearly every SUV/truck ad. They show the truck going over boulders, across rivers, etc. Yet 99.9% of people will never take their SUVs off road, but selling the idea that you could, sells trucks.

So, telling someone that their Bolt or Leaf is limited is not exactly a way to sell the cars.

SUN 2 DRV | May 29, 2018

reed +1

I agree that a Bolt is a reasonable car for certain demographics. It fits perfectly as the second car of a two car family (Tesla or ICE as primary long distance car if/when needed) And the Bolt is also fine if you live in a city/region where most long distance travel is done by plane.

Before my Tesla I never took long distance road trips and would fly instead. Bolt would have been perfect in that scenario.

Each family has different needs...

SamO | May 29, 2018

Yea . . . about 20,000 families per year "needs" a Bolt . . .

But 500,000/year will buy a Model 3 . . .

There's a difference and it ain't range.

nadurse | May 30, 2018

@Kathy, no need to disagree, if you actually read my whole post I said the same thing. If you buy a Bolt you are paying an EV premium for a regular type of car.

Reason I said the charging structure is the only thing comprimised is a matter of a technical/functional discussion. Price is a different discussion, and not really a compromise, if anything you could think of it as GM's EV tax, something youre paying above and beyond what the car should otherwise be.

reed_lewis | May 30, 2018

In the building I work in, there are a few people with Leafs. I have chatted with all of them, and they never drive further than the range of their Leaf. In fact one guy only charges his wife's Leaf at home. He charges his at work because it is free.

Not everyone has the need or the desire to drive long distances.

Look, the Bolt is an acceptable car. It is not perfect, but again they seem to be selling. The Leaf is also good for many people.

I look at EVs in terms of the rising tide idea. A rising tide raises all boats. More EVs on the road makes EVs more likely for other to purchase.

tes-s | May 30, 2018

I visited a friend who has a Bolt - got it about 6 months ago. Loves it. Had the same excitment about the car as Tesla owners have. Looked like it was a high-end model.

I don't think he has ever charged it away from home. If they go distances they fly or take his wife's Lexus.

lilbean | May 30, 2018

We don’t need bolts. We need rivets!

polaris | May 30, 2018

I put down $2k to reserve a Bolt (Toronto, Canada) in August of 2017. Got my refund when I ordered the model 3. Seriously GM - you don't want to sell me a car that badly?

mos6507 | May 30, 2018

"Never depend on a corporation to act in the public good on anything substantial. They are amoral. We can never forget that and it is true."

Tesla is a corporation too, with a failing grade from the BBB even, plus lawsuits from disgruntled workers and customers (the autopilot class-action).

Mike83 | May 30, 2018

We have UAW/ big 3 proponents working with Heartland possibly. Fake news from the sidelines with
fraudulent lawsuits from the dying industries.

rgrant | May 30, 2018

A used fiat 500e for < 10k is a much better deal as a city car anyway. Love scooting around town in ours.

Mike83 | May 30, 2018

I would rather use an electric bicycle for around town and it has an 80 mile range.

reed_lewis | May 30, 2018

@Mike83 - Perhaps that might work well in a location that has nice climate, but here in New England where we have high temps/high humidity, and lots of snow/ice, and rain; a bike is not a good transportation method.

SamO | May 30, 2018


I make the claim that short-range, no charging network cars can't achieve capture the buying public's imagination to reach mass production.

Your response is you have a friend that bought a Leaf or a Bolt.

See the problem?

SamO | May 30, 2018

I mean, I'll swim against the tide and make the claim that any automaker that builds a 150-mile range car can capture the buying public's imagination and reach mass production IF they build 2,000 fast charging stations. The Bolt has too much range and too few charging stations.

tom.wyrick | May 30, 2018

I'm actually rather impressed with the new "refresh" of the Nissan Leaf. I went to look at one a few weeks ago at the local Nissan dealership. They had two of them sitting out by the charging stations on their lot. They seem like they've done the best job of any auto-maker of finding a reasonable compromise between price-tag and functionality for a true EV vehicle that the masses would consider buying.

To be honest though? I'm one of those people who probably SHOULD be their target audience, except since I'm a car enthusiast and work in I.T. -- I'm pretty drawn to all the technology and gadgetry that comes on a Tesla. Plus, I had to get rid of a high performance sports car in order to afford the Tesla, so I just wasn't willing to give that up to get something that has nothing special to offer in the performance arena.

I really don't believe we're at the point yet, technology-wise, where electric cars are clearly the less expensive option over gas powered vehicles. We are, however, at the point where people willing to pay more for a luxury or performance car can go with an EV model while they're at it, and get a bit more for their money out of the whole thing.

Chevy has always followed the formula of building "vanilla" cars for the masses, along with 1 or 2 high performance "flagship" vehicles to prove they're capable of doing more (Corvettes and Camaros). With the Bolt, they're trying to convince the masses to pay the absolute high-side of what they can afford in a car payment to go electric - while they still wind up with something that's not viewed as the luxury segment at all. I think that winds up being a niche in the car market that isn't too big.

Chevy will never do a really "nice", "upscale" EV though, because that would belong to their Cadillac brand if they did. And we see what a lackluster result they got with the Cadillac ELR experiment. (Too bad too, IMO, because the ELR was essentially the last generation CTS Coupe body -- a design that finally earned Cadillac some respect with a younger crowd and revived the brand when they were just out of bankruptcy. I think it COULD have worked, but only if they put more money into making it lighter weight and upped the range, while getting behind it with an earnest marketing push. In reality, it was barely even advertised.)

reed_lewis | May 31, 2018

What I am saying in regards to the Bolt and Leaf is that there is a market for these vehicles. While it may not be as large as the Tesla, there are people who do not drive long distances. That is all I am saying. For people who do drive long distances, then a Tesla with the Supercharger network or an ICE is a more suitable vehicle.

SamO | May 31, 2018

And what I am saying is that the market is incredibly small. This thread was started because many/most GM dealerships will not stock Chevy Bolt. The question was "why" . . .

My explanation was:

1. The Bolt is overpriced for what you get, thus difficult to sell when you have a Spark on the lot that starts at $13,000.

2. The Bolt is of limited use if you actually want to drive 100 miles from home because of the lack of charging. GM is doing zero to solve this problem.

3. Dealerships don't want to stock a car that doesn't sell in large numbers. GM limited production of Bolt to 30,000 per year and they can't seem to even sell that many.

Nothing you've said addresses any of my points, or the point of this thread. The Bolt is a niche car, overpriced and underwhelming in comfort, amenities and features. Most of us want to see EVs succeed, but we do GM no favors by ignoring the buying public's preferences, GM's failures or the car's limitations.

finman100 | May 31, 2018

See, that's the thing. The new Leaf sheet metal appeals to some new comers. But a box of batteries with NO cooling is not the answer. After 7 plus years and MANY degradation problems, what did Nissan learn? oh, just get some new sheet metal and add 50 miles...buyers will eat it up. wow. and i love my Leaf for what it is. Waiting for something better after 4 years and 22% degradation. in a mild Willamette Valley climate. with a really decent DC fast charge network. Well, the Chademo that i use is decent. Poor Bolts deal with lower power and fewer chargers. I know there's better out there.

Tesla here i come. They are just doing EVERYTHING right, that i care about. battery management, sexy sheet metal, and a Supercharger network that is second to none. yeah, yeah, performance is nice, a perk. But the competition is not even close.

joemar10 | May 31, 2018

Traditional automobile dealerships don't want to sell a car that gives them a one-time profit. They want that guarantee that you'll be coming back for years and years spending money with them on overpriced service, oil changes, and transmission and coolant flushes that you don't need.

jordanrichard | May 31, 2018

Joemar10 +1

SO | May 31, 2018

BBB - a whopping 21 reviews. Only one negative review entered so far in 2018.

Try harder mos.