Dubai: It’s cute, it’s electric ... and it packs in enough range on a single charge to calm those most anxious about these things.
The Chevrolet Bolt EV, on prime-time display at the Dubai International Motor Show, is now inching closer to make its presence felt in the Gulf.
General Motors has set sights on a Q4-18 introduction in this market.
And given a price tag upwards of $37,495 (Dh137,719) (and under $30,000 with tax credit) in the US, the Chevrolet Bolt EV could convince many early adopters to opt for it rather than the pricey options flying the Tesla banner or even those incoming from some of the other competition.
In particular, the model will be a strong contender in government-driven fleet buying activity, and more so given the stated aim to source non-fuel vehicles.
But it is Chevrolet Bolt EV’s jaw drop inducing 300 kilometres plus on a single charge that could be the single biggest factor for buyers. “Our manufacturing plants are currently building the vehicles specifically for the Gulf,” said Alan Batey, President of General Motors North America and Global Chevrolet Brand Chief. “These models incorporate learnings and outcomes from extensive testing in the Middle East under some of the most extreme hot weather conditions, including temperatures in the range of 45-49 degrees Celsius.
“The Chevrolet Bolt EV will be available in the UAE in Q4-18 followed by a roll out in Jordan and Lebanon with Saudi Arabia next on the list.” (Chevrolet also has the hybrid Volt in its line-up, and available only in the US.)
The model’s building up a presence on American roads and GM has been cranking up production gradually at the Michigan plant.
Rapturous mentions in the automotive media have also helped with the profile boost.
This year, GM has been working on its availability outside of the US, and currently available in Canada, Norway and South Korea.
But how receptive are Middle East markets likely to be?
First to market in the Middle East
“We were the first to introduce such a one-charge long-range vehicle like this in the US and we’re first to market it here in the Middle East,” said Batey.
“The Chevrolet Bolt EV has demonstrated that there is a desire for long-range electric vehicles and it has helped bring new customers to the brand in the US
“Dubai has positioned itself as a pioneer in sustainable mobility — the Dubai Green Mobility Initiative targets a 10 per cent penetration of alternate propulsion vehicles in government fleets by 2020. This is a bold target ... and we look forward to being equally bold and making Chevrolet a reliable partner.”
But when it comes to individual car owners mulling a switch to electric, incentives are a must in this period of transformation.
Dubai authorities have already announced free charging for electrics until 2019, free parking services in designated areas, and waiver of Salik and vehicle registration charges.
General Motors is also thinking beyond the Chevrolet Bolt EV.
Within the next 18 months, two further all-electric models are to be introduced, and of course gleaning “learnings from the Chevrolet Bolt EV”.
“They will be the first of at least 20 new all-electric vehicles that will launch by 2023,” Batey added.
“Consumer vehicle needs vary greatly based on region, life-stage, affordability and functionality. It is important for us — as a full-line brand — to offer a portfolio of vehicles that meets the needs of a wide range of consumers.
"From fuel-efficient passenger cars and crossovers, to functional and durable pickup trucks, to technologically advanced electric vehicles.”
And in markets where they are more likely to find a niche, “hybrids still make sense.”