General Motors Co.’s (NYSE: GM) Chevy Bolt may be the best reviewed electric car in America. It has just won the Motor Trend 2017 “Car of the Year.” However, sales of the car are likely to be weak. Electric car buyers are few and far between.
Motor Trend editors wrote:
For only the second time in the awards’ seven decades, the sound of electrical energy being converted into motion and the sound of the automotive world shifting on its axis convinced the MOTOR TREND judges to select the Chevrolet Bolt EV as this year’s Car of the Year winner.
The Bolt EV was the first battery-powered vehicle to be conceived by GM to be a viable, affordable, mass-market, game-changing electric car, and just two numbers show why. The EPA has certified the Bolt EV will travel 238 miles on a full charge, and it costs only $29,995 after taking into consideration a $7,500 federal tax rebate.
Following a week of testing at the Hyundai-Kia Motors California Proving Ground, the MOTOR TREND judges found, “the most impressive thing about the Bolt EV is that there are no caveats and no ‘for an electric car’ qualifiers needed in any discussion. It is, simply, a world-class small car, and that’s before you factor in the benefits inherent in the smoothness, silence, and instant-on torque provided by the electric motor.”
Among the hurdles the Bolt faces is that gasoline prices are low. Even if that changes, the car buying public has turned to hybrids for years. The signature proof of that is the millions of Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) Prius vehicles that have been sold over the years. These hybrids may not match the fuel efficiency of electric cars, but their operation is familiar. They do not have to be plugged into a wall like a washing machine.
Finally, even as electric car ranges move toward 300 miles, the United States is not awash in electric car charging stations the way it is with gas stations.
No matter how excellent a car the Bolt is, its market is very limited.