Chevrolet Bolt Sales Plunge 41 Percent in 2018 Q3 Due to Vehicle Shortages

GM recently diverted Bolt production to Canada and South Korea, which should help alleviate Q4 targets.

2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Jessica Lynn Walker

Sales of Chevrolet's subcompact Bolt electric hatchback over the third quarter are down 41 percent from 2017 levels.

Year-long sales of the Bolt have fallen 17 percent from 2017 levels. All GM marques are suffering sales shrinkage, 11 percent down from Q3 2017 altogether, and 1.2 year-over-year. Despite this, the closely-related Volt plug-in hybrid (PHEV) is enjoying buoyed sales, up 23 percent from last year. Sales problems with the Bolt are not down to consumer demands, according to a company spokesperson, who attributed the poor performance to a lack of dealer stock, in turn caused by changes to where the Bolt will be built.

"The decline is more a function of us diverting production to Canada and South Korea, coupled with low stocks in the U.S.," explained GM spokesperson Jim Cain to CNBC. "We're still proceeding with the Q4 production increase we announced in the last sales release."

The production boost specified by Cain is a 20 percent increase in production over the fourth quarter, presumably meant to both meet consumer demand (both in the U.S. and Bolt-loving South Korea) and rebuild dealer stocks of the Bolt.

The Drive's Kyle Cheromcha advocated for the Bolt in July as the first mass market-friendly electric vehicle, and examining the Bolt's specifications make it easy to understand why. 

Its 60-kilowatt-hour battery keeps weight down, but the Bolt's efficient electric powertrain turns each kWh into nearly four miles of road range. Its nearest competitors are the BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf, the former being too costly and the latter carrying too small a battery. Tesla has yet to arrive with its long-promised $35,000 variant of the Model 3 sedan, its release portended only by an alleged spring of 2019 release window.

2018 Chevrolet Bolt Premier: The First Real Mass-Market Electric Car