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Chevrolet Bolt Deliveries Hit New High

By Daniel Sparks – Jul 3, 2017 at 10:46AM

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Bolt deliveries are up ahead of the all-electric vehicle's national rollout. But could a Model 3 launch this month suppress demand in the second half of the year?

Just ahead of electric-car maker Tesla's (TSLA 7.82%) first deliveries of its lower-cost Model 3, sales of General Motors' (GM 4.40%) all-electric Chevrolet Bolt are hitting an all-time high.

Here's what investors should know.

Bolt deliveries

General Motors delivered 1,642 Bolts in June, up 5% from the 1,566 Bolts GM delivered in May. The monthly deliveries for the affordably priced electric vehicle were GM's highest yet.

Bar chart of monthly Bolt sales.

Data source: General Motors' monthly sales updates.

Starting at $37,500, the Bolt is a compact all-electric vehicle with a driving range of 238 miles, making it the first affordable electric vehicle with more than 200 miles of range on a battery.

While Bolt deliveries in June were at an all-time high, monthly sequential growth slowed significantly compared to growth in May. May Bolt deliveries were up 21% compared to deliveries in April. But June Bolt deliveries increased just 5%.

GM's record-breaking Bolt deliveries come ahead of the company's national rollout of the vehicle. In June, Bolt sales were limited to 16 states. But Bolt deliveries are supposed to begin in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Pennsylvania in July, and roll out nationally in August. 

Since the Bolt isn't available nationally yet, it's difficult to put a finger on what demand will look like after the vehicle's national rollout in August.

Up against Tesla's Model 3

It would be difficult to talk about GM's Bolt without discussing Tesla's upcoming Model 3. With a starting price of $35,000 and a promised driving range of 215 miles or more, the two vehicles are undoubtedly facing off against each other. Will Bolt sales continue moving higher even as Tesla begins Model 3 deliveries on July 28? Or could more Model 3 hype dampen Bolt demand?

Two women interacting with the Bolt's infotainment system.

The inside of a Chevrolet Bolt. Image source: Chevrolet.

Tesla's Model 3 has stolen the show so far -- even before deliveries have begun. The electric-car maker has accumulated about 400,000 deposit-backed reservations for its Model 3, and Tesla says the reservations are climbing every week. And Tesla's final unveiling event for its Model 3 later this month could be another demand catalyst for the Model 3, sending reservations even higher.

Responding to the astounding demand for its Model 3, Tesla is planning to build 500,000 total vehicles during 2018, up from an annualized rate of 100,000 units today.

If Tesla can ramp up its Model 3 production as fast as it hopes, Model 3 deliveries may surpass Bolt deliveries soon. While Tesla only expects to deliver 30 Model 3s to customers at its Model 3 handover party on July 28, it expects deliveries to climb higher in the coming months. Musk said on Twitter Sunday that Tesla anticipates 100 Model 3 deliveries in August, 1,500 in September, and about 20,000 in December.

Looking ahead to 2018, Tesla sees Model 3 production and deliveries soaring, with Model 3 production hitting 10,000 vehicles per week at some point during the year.

If potential Bolt customers end up liking Tesla's Model 3 more, it's possible that the Bolt's demand will be limited after Tesla shares more information about the highly anticipated vehicle later this month. On the other hand, perhaps national availability of the Bolt will be enough to help sales of GM's important all-electric vehicle continue to rise higher even as Model 3 deliveries begin.

Daniel Sparks owns shares of Tesla. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Tesla and Twitter. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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