NASHVILLE -- General Motors will begin selling the Chevrolet Bolt EV nationwide in August, a month sooner than originally planned.
Steve Majoros, Chevrolet's marketing director for cars and crossovers, on Friday said GM at the start of the month opened up Bolt ordering to all U.S. dealers certified to sell electric vehicles. Bolts ordered this month would arrive in showrooms by August, he said. GM's previous schedule called for nationwide ordering in July and sales in September.
"We were waiting for the training to be done, we were waiting for the right tools to be in place," Majoros said at a Chevrolet media event here, adding all dealers wanting to sell the vehicle had to install DC fast-charging stations. "We are kind of ahead of schedule on implementing all of those things as well as making sure we have enough sufficient inventory."
The company began selling the electric hatchback, which has an estimated 238-mile range, in December in EV-friendly California and Oregon, before gradually expanding sales into about a dozen other states. Through May, U.S. sales have totaled 6,529 units.
Chevrolet took lessons learned from the rollout of previous electrified vehicles such as the Spark EV and Volt, including not creating inventory shortages in markets where the vehicle originally launched.
"It's this delicate balancing act," Majoros said. "But we think we're at the right level of sufficient inventory. We can keep feeding where there's a stronghold of sales."
Because of demand, GM had some problems keeping Bolt EVs in the markets in which they were distributing them, including at least one dealer in Atlanta using a loophole to purchase one of the vehicles for his dealership from California.
A "highly targeted" national advertising campaign for the Bolt will begin in the coming weeks, Majoros said.
The Bolt EV is a highly important vehicle for not just GM but the auto industry. With a starting price of $37,495 including shipping, before a $7,500 federal tax credit, it is the industry's most affordable long-range electric vehicle. It will face competition from the similarly priced Tesla Model 3 as soon as later this year.