General Motors Contemplating Bolt EV Regional Inventory Hub

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【Summary】The American automaker is considering coming out with regional inventory hubs that would cut customer wait times and dealer costs.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    May 03, 2021 7:45 AM PT
General Motors Contemplating Bolt EV Regional Inventory Hub

While automakers are coming out with more electric vehicles at a blistering pace, finding a new electric car on a dealer lot can be a difficult thing for consumers. Technically, the EVs are on sale, but a lot of traditional, franchised dealers aren't keeping a lot of stock for consumers to purchase. This, for consumers, can lead to high wait times to take delivery of their vehicles. General Motors is trying to do something new with its Chevrolet dealers, as it's looking into regional inventory hubs for its electric cars.

Shared EV Stock For Dealers

According to Automotive News, General Motors is looking into possibly stocking electric vehicles at regional hubs to ensure that it can quickly deliver EVs to nearby dealerships. The program could go into effect as soon as late this year and would see Chevrolet test "centralized inventory lots" for the new 2022 Bolt. Area dealers would share a pool of Bolts, which would be kept nearby, to pull from as needed.

Instead of having dealers wait weeks for electric vehicles to be shipped from Chevrolet's factory, the centralized inventory lot would mean dealers would only be waiting a few days. This would certainly translate over to customers, too. As Automotive News points out, this is similar to what Amazon does for its packages. The massive tech company utilizes regional warehouses to provide same-day and next-day deliveries.

This is an interesting strategy from GM. For dealerships, it could decrease floorplan costs and give dealers in rural areas where EVs aren't popular the opportunity to sell more popular models. On the other hand, some dealers are worried that the approach gives automakers too much control over their operations.

Why A Regional Hub Makes Sense

Still, for GM, this sounds like the best solution going forward. The automaker plans to come out with 20 EVs in North America and wants to have a zero-emissions lineup of light vehicles on sale by 2035. With such large plans in place, executives at GM are looking to change the automaker's retail model to improve customer experience and reduce costs.

It's also a far better solution than the one GM took with Cadillac last September. Late last year, GM offered Cadillac dealers an ultimatum: make the necessary investments to sell the upcoming Lyriq EV or stop selling Cadillacs. Before the end of the year, roughly 150 dealers (out of 880 total dealers) in the U.S. were reportedly taking GM's buyout instead of making the necessary changes to carry the EV.

GM's new plan for Chevrolet dealers gives them the opportunity to continue selling gas-powered cars, which are far more popular, while still meeting all of the necessary requirements to sell EVs. Dealerships won't have to worry about stocking a large number of EVs that may not sell, either. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of dealerships have started to move the sales process online to accommodate buyers. A regional inventory hub would allow dealerships to continue selling vehicles online.

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