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GM cuts Chevy Blazer EV price as sales restart following software issues

Chevrolet All-Electric Blazer EV
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

DETROIT – General Motors is reducing the price of its new Chevrolet Blazer EV by thousands of dollars as it restarts sales of the vehicle Friday following an 11-week stoppage to address software issues.

Current 2024 Blazer EV models will start at $50,195, or $6,520 less than when it first went on sale in August. That excludes a $7,500 federal tax incentive that the vehicle now qualifies for fully.

GM halted sales of the EV in late December following reports by customers and media of problems involving the vehicle’s infotainment and charging systems, including an inability to charge its battery that could leave drivers stranded.

The issues all affected the vehicle’s software and were fixed without any physical changes to the vehicle, according to Baris Cetinok, GM vice president of product, software & services. They ranged from small bugs in coding to the vehicle’s ability to communicate with certain public EV chargers.

“There is not this singular, predominant root cause that causes all of these issues” Cetinok told CNBC during an interview. “It’s circumstances and rare cases coming together.”

Cetinok, a former Apple executive who joined GM in September, said many issues were “rare but still disruptive.” The automaker initiated the stop-sale to avoid issues for additional customers.

2024 Chevrolet Blazer SS EV
GM

To find and address the problems, GM conducted a “testing matrix” involving repeatedly rewriting and testing coding as well as physical on-road testing across the country, Cetinok said.

“For us, it was important to get it right rather than fast. Right and fast is of course ideal, but the point is we rather put the pain on ourselves to take the time and pause and fix it,” he said.

GM said the processes to fix the Blazer EV have helped it strengthen its software quality validation testing for future vehicles.

Still no Apple CarPlay

In addition to fixing the software issues, GM added or changed some features following early customer feedback. They include customizable multi-color ambient lighting and revised driver information graphics, including a battery percentage display.

GM will not reinstate Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in the Blazer or future vehicles, according to Cetinok. He contends GM’s programs that can communicate with the rest of the vehicle’s internal systems offers a better customer experience and more functionality than a third-party add that simply overlays onto a screen.

Apple CarPlay.
Source: Apple Inc.

“When you are a company that is deeply vertically integrated, that is actually in the business of creating the hardware as well as software and service, you can create far more seamless experiences,” Cetinok. “Vertical integration is the best way to go.”

GM made waves last year when it said its future EVs would not include the features, which essentially mirror functions such as navigation, music and others from a smartphone to the vehicle’s infotainment system.

The vertical integration also is expected to help GM reap revenue from potential infotainment subscriptions and services. In October 2021, GM projected annual software and services revenue would be around $20 billion to $25 billion from an estimated 30 million connected vehicles by the end of this decade.

Price cuts

The $50,195 starting price for available 2024 Blazer EVs is $6,520 less than when it first went on sale in August. More expensive “RS” models of the Blazer EV will be reduced by $5,620 to starting prices of $54,595 for all-wheel-drive or $56,170 for rear-wheel-drive.

Additional pricing for other models, including a sub-$50,000 trim, will be announced closer to when the vehicles go on sale beginning later this year.

2024 Chevrolet Blazer SS EV
GM

The new pricing is before a $7,500 federal tax credit that the vehicle now qualifies for as part of the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. GM changed materials sourcing so the vehicle would qualify for the full incentive.

“We are excited to have the Chevrolet Blazer EV available again, this time with a compelling price, enhanced features and functionality and qualifying for the full consumer tax credit. I encourage customers to visit their nearest Chevy dealership to test-drive this amazing vehicle,” Chevrolet Vice President Scott Bell said in a statement.

Vehicle pricing is one of several problems for EV adoption, which has been slower than many expected just months ago. The price reductions get the vehicle closer in-line to the gas-powered Blazer, which starts between roughly $37,000 and $48,000.

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