Bolt or Volt? General Motors Admits There’s Confusion Over Plug-in Car Names

When General Motors unveiled the 200-mile, all-electric Bolt EV Concept Car at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, it caused instant confusion around the world, because its name when spoken — the Chevrolet Bolt — is almost indistinguishable from the name of GM’s established range-extended electric car, the Chevrolet Volt.

Indeed, the words are so indistinguishable from one another in many languages that motoring journalists have taken to appending “the letter V” or “the letter B” to the end of each car’s name when discussing them verbally as a way of differentiating the two cars from one another. It’s even lead some outlets — including this one — to write entire pieces discussing why the Chevrolet Bolt is a bad name for GM’s first-ever long-range electric car.

The Chevrolet Bolt concept car is being made -- but will it keep that name?

The Chevrolet Bolt concept car is being made — but will it keep that name?

Initially, GM kept relatively quiet on the issue of the Chevy Bolt’s official name admitting that the name was at least originally just a concept car name. Now the Detroit giant has confirmed the 200-mile plug-in will enter production next fall as a 2017 model-year car however, it’s having to admit that the Bolt/Volt homophone is just too confusing.

Talking with the Detroit Free Press, GM North America President Alan Bradley admitted the name is already causing some headaches.

“Some people think it’s confusing,” he said. “People are having some fun with it. It is generating awareness, which is good. It’s so conversational.”

Creating a marketing buzz over the Chevrolet Bolt is one thing, but creating a sensible differentiation between it and the Volt to help avoid service-desk, customer and dealer confusion is a far bigger concern.

Said aloud, 'Chevrolet Volt  ' and 'Chevrolet Bolt' sound indistinguishable.

Said aloud, ‘Chevrolet Volt ‘ and ‘Chevrolet Bolt’ sound indistinguishable.

“We’re still in the decision phase,” Bradley said when asked if the Bolt name would stay. “It could go either way,” he stated, saying that GM has a year or so to make up its mind on the issue.

Despite the confusion we and other news outlets have seen however, Bradley says it may not be as big an issue as some think.

“The Volt and Bolt are different vehicles for people with different needs,” he added.

With a promised range of 200-miles per charge and a target price tag of $30,000, the Chevrolet Bolt Concept Car we saw in Detroit this January certainly stood out against the more conventional-looking second-generation Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car. Also unveiled in Detroit, the second-generation Volt — which will go on sale later this year as a 2016 model year car — features an 18.4 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and a claimed range of 50 miles in electric mode before a 1.5-litre four-cylinder range-extending gasoline engine kicks in to provide extra range.

It’s a far more conventional-looking five seat hatchback than the tall, urban-centric, ultra-modern Bolt, and there is at least some argument to be made that the two won’t be easily confused in person.

What would you call this car other than 'Bolt'?

What would you call this car other than ‘Bolt’?

The two offer different functionality too: the Bolt is designed to operate in and around major cities with the occasional long-distance road trip facilitated by on-board DC CCS quick charge capability.

The Volt meanwhile, is designed to operate in electric mode for the daily commute, but offer range-extending capabilities for well over 500 miles of total range without needing to stop for fuel.

Yet when it comes to the name itself, we’re convinced GM will have to change the name of its 200-mile four-seater before it enters production next year.

The alternative is just too confusing for everyone, most of all customers.

What would you name the new 200-mile EV from Chevrolet? And what names would you steer clear of?

Leave your suggestions in the Comments below.


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  • DerekOsb

    Well it would appear the Ampera name will be available since GM Europe don’t want it!! (or am I just annoyed there won’t be an Ampeara 2?). Sensible suggestion might be the Chevrolet Switch or the Chevrolet Chip.

  • SunnyDeigo

    Bolt or Volt is distinguishable until an Indian says it.

  • vdiv

    The confusion is intentional. They could have easily named it something else, i.e. Chevy Zap, Chevy Whoosh, Chevy Urban, Chevy Hipster, whathaveyou. GM needs to admit that and then explain to us why they wanted the confusion. Why did they announce the Bolt concept alongside the second generation Volt completely overshadowing it? Why aren’t there other plugin models such as crossovers? Why has GM apparently given up on the world market or have they?

  • Michael Thwaite

    Shouldn’t it be Bolt or Holt ?

    • vdiv

      Now that I think of it, it would be aptly called Revolt 🙂

  • Richard Glover

    I can’t see the problem, one is called a Volt and the other a Usain.nChevy Usain. Sounds good to me.

  • leptoquark

    Maybe GM should change it to the “Lightning Bolt”. There’s no rule against having two-word names for cars. nnI still like the Bolt name in combination with the Spark. The Spark. The Bolt. It’s like the Bolt is the big brother of the Spark.

  • Steven Ingham


  • Steven Ingham

    How about a new gas model called, ” choak “. And a diesel version called “Croak” City version,, U-Choak

  • Steven Ingham

    The all new Chevrolet E-Lation. See the USA, the electric way.

  • Joe

    GM had two vehicles in the 1990s called Lumina that were completely different. One was a four-door sedan and the other a minivan. I had the sedan and every time I took it in for service (very often!) I had to specify that it was not a minivan. This naming decision always made me question the motives of GM’s marketing department. It was a regular annoyance that could easily have been avoided.

  • JohnCBriggs

    Let’s make it “iBolt”.

  • D. Harrower

    If there was more platform similarity between the two cars, I might have suggested eVolt. Would still work, I suppose.

  • Bob Johnson

    Years ago Buick (GM) had the ELECTRA model. wonder if Chevy could resurrect it? or how about ELECTRO, or ELECTRON