General Motors didn’t have to construct an all-new assembly plant to build its affordable,
mass-market Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car.
In fact, it produces the electric car at the existing Orion assembly plant in Michigan, which opened in 1983.
That’s not the most interesting aspect of Bolt EV production,
though: GM actually builds the all-electric Bolt EV and the gasoline-powered
Chevrolet Sonic on the same assembly line, interspersing them as needed.
There is no deviation or halting to switch from one to the other during production.
The plant simply knocks out a carefully planned cadence of Sonics and Bolt EVs throughout an entire shift.
More than 100 Chevrolet Bolt EVs are produced per day, according to WardsAuto,
with a handful donning lightning-bolt badges to create the Opel Ampera-e electric car sold in Europe.
The other part of Orion’s production is the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact,
in both four-door sedan and five-door hatchback variants.
Through the line, GM designed the build process to switch seamlessly from one powertrain to another.
At the first major stop for a Sonic or Bolt EV,
either a fuel tank or a battery pack is installed.
Workers stand by and fasten either component
—with the same 10 fasteners—and the vehicle proceeds on its way.
Then the car stops to receive its driveline, installed with 12 fasteners—
again, using the same process for either the
gasoline-powered Sonic or the all-electric Bolt EV.
Additionally, little differs in other build processes,
including the stamping and body assembly.
While the Bolt EV’s doors are made of aluminum,
they’re installed in the same way as steel Sonic doors.
This, as the report points out, is what makes the operation truly remarkable.