GM planning a sub-$30,000 Ultium-based EV below the Equinox EV

There’s a fun little challenge on social media where someone asks their worldwide audience, “Tell me X without telling me X.” If we were playing the game with General Motors, we’d say, “Tell me you’re killing the Chevrolet Bolt without telling me you’re killing the Chevrolet Bolt.” If you’ll remember, it was only a few days ago we surveyed opinions among CNN and Automotive News that Chevrolet has already bought a cremation appointment for the Bolt but doesn’t want to admit it. Those two takes were based on the fact that the Lake Orion Assembly plant that builds the Bolt is being converted to build GM’s coming electric pickups, all of which will be more popular and are on a different, better platform than the subcompact hatch, and the fact that GM wouldn’t say anything about how much life its lovely, tiny crossover has left. The loose prediction was that the coming, $30,000 battery-electric Equinox would replace the Bolt, offering more room and a better powertrain for less money.

Now we have GM CEO Mary Barra’s comments during GM’s call with analysts to discuss Q4 2021 results. As part of her lengthy opening comments, Barra took a dig at startup EV automakers (Tesla, Lucid, Rivian, et al) and threw the Bolt under a GM Cruise autonomous taxi when she said, “The efficiencies created by the Ultium platform are a key reason why we will be able to deliver truly affordable EVs like the Equinox. Affordable EVs are part of the market that start-ups aren’t targeting, but they are key to driving mass adoption of EVs, which is a national and a global priority. That’s why we plan to follow the Equinox with an even more affordable EV.”

Later in the call, answering a question from a Morgan Stanley analyst about why GM is launching so many EVs in such a short window, Barra re-emphasized how important it is to make EVs affordable for the folks with the leanest budgets. She replied, “And that’s why you look at the Equinox and how significant that can be, the more affordable EV that we’re going to be doing that really gets into another very important part of the market. So you have to have the proper market coverage.”

At the time of writing, the Bolt – not the larger Bolt EUV, the regular Bolt — costs $32,495 after destination, before state-level incentives. To hammer home the point about this car’s death, the electric Equinox will be larger, less expensive, and run on the newer and more efficient Ultium internals as opposed to the Bolt’s BEV2 guts. An EV positioned underneath the electric Equinox, well, is the Bolt. Except that new EV will be Ultium based, making it that much more financially accessible than the Bolt, with better performance.

Here is where we mention the stance taken by a piece in Bloomberg, which was that the Bolt might survive but the name won’t. That take seems even more unlikely now. But Alisa Priddle at Motor Trend has come up with another nugget of nomenclature kung-fu, suggesting the Ultium EV in the market segment under the Equinox will replace the Bolt, as well as the Chevrolet Trax and Trailblazer ICE-powered crossovers, then adds, “We vote to keep the Trailblazer name.”

So. By every reasonable presumption, the Bolt we know and that more than 100,000 have loved is dead. But does the vehicle that takes its place become the Bolt v2, or the Trailblazer, or something else?

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