2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

With 238-Mile EPA Range, Rumored Lower-Than-Expected Price, Chevrolet Bolt EV Sets Sights On Tesla Model 3

Ever since it unveiled its Model 3 electric car back in March, California automaker Tesla Motors has been basking in the warm, fuzzy glow of knowing that it has more than 350,000 pre-order reservations secured for its mass-market, long-range electric sedan.

Combining its now legendary performance, high-capacity lithium-ion battery pack, advanced semi-autonomous safety features, supercharger compatibility and over-the-air software updates, Model 3 — which Tesla says will enter production in Q4 2017 and go on sale from $35,000 before incentives — looked to have sewn up the affordable long-range electric car market. Indeed, with a promised range of 215 miles per charge, Model 3 seemed to beat the upcoming Chevrolet Bolt EV on price, range, performance and charging capabilities. At least, it did when compared to the specifications and $37,500 target price GM CEO Mary Barra disclosed back in January at CES 2017.

The just-announced EPA range should allow GM to go after Model 3.

The just-announced EPA range should allow GM to go after Model 3.

But on Monday, the Detroit automaker fired a warning shot Tesla’s way, announcing its 2017 Bolt EV  had received an official EPA range of 238 miles per charge, enough to leap-frog Model 3 in the range race and make the Chevrolet Bolt EV the cheapest long-range electric car to go on sale to date.  What’s more, at a press briefing earlier this week GM North America President Alan Batey hinted that the Bolt EV could cost less than previously thought. And while GM stopped short of  promising a particular sticker price, it is now stating the 2017 Bolt EV will have an “expected MSRP below $37,500 before available federal tax credit of up to $7,500”.

The Chevy Bolt EV will be in dealerships within the month.

The Chevy Bolt EV will be in dealerships within the month.

Naturally, that statement could indicate an MSRP of $37,499, but given Tesla’s plan to launch Model 3 with a starting price of $35,000 before incentives we think it’s likely that GM will slash $2,500 off the Bolt EV’s price to make it aggressively compete against Model 3.

GM is clearly going after Model 3 with the Chevy Bolt EV when it comes to range and price, but what about other features?

Those who have driven the Bolt already comment that it gives a very promising, spirited drive thanks to its 150 kilowatt electric motor. There’s also user-adjustable regenerative braking on accelerator liftoff thanks to the single regeneration-on-demand paddle on the left-hand side of the steering wheel. Road handling and body roll is minimal thanks to its 60 kilowatt-hour battery pack being mounted low down in the chassis, and our friends at GreenCarReports (who were lucky enough to have a drive last week) note that “it looks considerably smaller than it actually is.”

“Think of it as a tall wagon or (heaven forfend) a small minivan, and you’ll get a sense of its interior volume,” it notes.

In other words, it may have the Model 3 beat when it comes to practicality for everyday life thanks to its hatchback design and versatile load bay design. But as Tesla fans will note, the Model 3’s Supercharging capabilities may give it the edge over the Bolt EV when it comes to long-distance travel — even if the Model 3 requires users to pay for Supercharging access. That said, CCS — the quick charging standard preferred by GM for the Bolt EV — is quickly gaining popularity thanks to the completion of east and west-coast corridors for major routes.

CCS capability isn't Supercharger -- but it should still be useful.

CCS capability isn’t Supercharger — but it should still be useful.

As for over-the-air updates? GM says the Bolt EV will get those too, knocking one more thing off the list of Model 3 features that may have put it above the Bolt EV in some consumers’ minds.

Autopilot functionality may give the Model 3 an edge still in the mind of some consumers, along with the cachet of the Tesla brand. But with the Bolt EV due to launch in just a few weeks’ time and GM more than capable of making as many cars as are demanded of it, Tesla is going to find itself a long way behind when it launches Model 3 next year — unless of course it can come up with a killer feature that we don’t yet know about.

The biggest risk for Tesla right now? The fact that GM has an order of magnitude more cash on hand than Tesla — and should it choose, it could make things very difficult indeed for the California company.

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  • Joseph Dubeau

    ” it’s likely that GM will slash $2,500 off the Bolt ” they have already said it will under $30,000 after federal incentive.
    I wish everyone would stop comparing to M3 to Bolt. A bit like comparing a sport car with a truck.
    If I’m going to the beach with the my two dogs, I would take the Bolt over the M3.

  • Quote : “GM more than capable of making as many cars as are demanded of it”.

    Sure, if you want an empty shell without a battery pack.

    Come on Nikki, you very well know LG Chem has capacity for 50,000 battery packs of 60 kWh per year at current production levels without compromising other OEM’s who also depend on LG Chem.

    I like the new Bolt, but facts aren’t on the side of your hyperbole.

  • Martin Lacey

    How about the M3 dashboard which will make sense of the centre only scree? Which reveal 2 will introduce!

    Tesla’a ability to cruise at Motorway speeds without decimating range.

    Or Supercharging being Tesla only at this point in time – this gives a Tesla owner many more charging options including SC’s and CHADeMO’s from multiple vendors.

    Then there is the desirability of owning a Tesla, something Chevy can’t brag about.

    How about the visual appearnce?

    Then there’s the ability to make more than 50k units per year thanks to Gigafactory1, which LG needs to catch up with if they want to support other OEM’s in automaking.

    Need I go on?

    • vdiv

      Yes, please! 🙂

    • CamelCamelCamel

      How about not being able to get one until 2020?

      • Martin Lacey

        Spurious and unfounded commentary. Based on your assumption that past performance is the ONLY indicator of future reality, we should declare that GM are going to recall and crush all their Bolts !?!

        Tesla need the model 3 making money. They have finalised the design and learnt from over complicated engineering for mass production. They have begun tooling up. Gigafactory is almost ready to start making the batteries and the supply chain is on song.

        Perhaps you will order some humble pie in 12 months time?

        • DW78

          Tesla will do great and will even be able to supply batteries to other OEMs, but I’d bet their saying late 2017 for the Model 3 = Spring 2018. I hope I’m wrong.

  • Neil Livewire

    More good news, but it’s still a “calculated” range.
    It’s the same problem as the IC engines vehicle sales bumph, the figures have no real value.
    Force the manufacturers to provide real life figures, they carry out 1000’s of miles/kms of testing they can easily give the real range.
    Oh and while we’re on the subject of the Bolt, as it’s a production intent version now, will it be homologated to tow a trailer?

    • Knarfpower

      Many if not most of us beat the EPA numbers. How is that not real world?

  • Albemarle

    I like Tesla’s philosophy and I love to watch the rockets land on the robot ship, but…

    If I am looking for a new ev in the next year or so with the range I want at the price I want, I am buying a Chevy Bolt EV. Never owned a GM vehicle yet, so no loyalty. But it’s initial reviews by non-corporate reviewers were complimentary. I am very impressed by the range. Don’t care about the drag coefficient, don’t care about the electric efficiency (electricity is much cheaper than gas), don’t care about who owns what battery production facility and it’s capacity. I am only buying one car.

    Finally, the Bolt EV meets my needs.

    I agree that this constant comparison between the Bolt EV that is being currently reviewed and will be sold in a few months, and the M3 vapourware from Tesla that doesn’t even closely meet it’s own timing or production targets is boring. Full credit to Tesla though for keeping the fans involved and excitied, and I do hope they are eventually successful with the M3.

    • DW78

      Well said all around. I’m a bit loyal to Toyota, but one of the wonderful thing about EVs is the reliability factor flattens out between manufacturers compared to ICEs. So a Bolt should be basically as reliable as a Toyota or Honda.

      Tesla will deliver on the range and price for the M3, but chances are they will indeed deliver late. They’ve said late 2017, which translates into Spring 2018.

  • DW78

    I rave about Tesla and what it is doing to alter the energy status of the world at large (big picture), bringing what we expected to be 50 years off into the present. But in say 2 years, if I’m in the market for a new car, I’ll get the Chevy Bolt rather than the Tesla Model 3. It checks off more on my checklist of needs. I do expect replacement parts will be much easier to find and DIY will be more accessible with the Bolt until Tesla gains a bigger market share.

  • Brock Nanson

    Article after article with click-bait headlines about ‘Tesla Killer’ are running rampant over the Internet. Does anyone think Tesla cares? Actually, they likely do, but not in the ‘cower-in-the-corner way people seem to think. Their very reason for being is to advance the transition to electric transportation. The Bolt shows they’re winning! Every EV that leaves a factory and finds a home in someone’s garage is a win, regardless of brand. The demand for EV’s is about to go exponential and grossly exceed manufacturing capacity. Why would Tesla be concerned about being squeezed out? Especially given that they’ve set the bar for others to clear. Nobody’s talking about the Model 3 being an anything-killer, because it’s already at the top of the food chain, without even being in production.

    I’m glad to see the Bolt out there… the cheaper, the better. And the more sales, the better. It will be the right tool for many people’s needs. Not everyone, and not many people who need to drive 238+1 miles, but it will serve the purpose for many.

  • vdiv

    Hey Nikki, remind the crowd please, how did your GM electrified vehicle experience go last time? Did you get one on this side of the pond? Will the Bolt EV be even available with RHD? Is this the new, new GM that has suddenly found a new religion and after 26 years of fucking with us has finally agreed to make and sell EVs? Are they so committed to it that they are investing in charging infrastructure, bringing the dealerships onboard (as in more than half), bring expertise inhouse at the core of the business, releasing other models including trucks and SUVs (instead of blowing hydrogen fumes)? Not really?!

    • Joseph Dubeau

      The news must be really hard on Tesla Fanboys. The Bolt actually has better range than Model D 60. wow.
      Second insult, at half the price. “suddenly found a new religion” apparently not your.
      Tesla Motor is neither new age religion nor a revolution, Tesla Motor is a car company.

      • vdiv

        No, the news is great, my friend, but the bashing has gone a different way and for way too long that some of us have lost their patience and their cool. 26 years is a long time to wait for a mass-market EV in every garage from GM.
        As for the range, no amount is sufficient if the EV cannot be recharged on the way, and vice versa, with a comprehensive charging network there is a point of diminishing return. But you already know that, right?

      • Farmer_Dave

        Does the Bolt have a GM ignition switch?

        • Joseph Dubeau

          Dave if you don’t like the car that’s fine, but someone like the Bolt.
          Should I slam the autopilot? That’s neither positive nor productive.

          • Farmer_Dave

            Simple question, neither positive or negative. Your interpretation reflects your bias.

          • Joseph Dubeau

            I do like the Bolt. You have problem with that. Deal with it!

        • Martin Lacey

          I think LG made that as well.

      • Martin Lacey

        Joseph,

        The Bolt is GM’s attempt to beat the Model 3. Have they succeeded?

        1) They have got to market first – so we have to say yes on this point.
        2) They appear to have filled the Tesla brief quite well: 200 mile range and “affordable” – so another yes!
        3) Does the Bolt include autopilot, crash avoidance, Supercharger access? – NO
        4) LG are restricted to 50k battery packs making this anything other than a mass produced vehicle
        5) Will the Bolt be available in all markets? – NO

        Could it be that GM are subsidizing the Bolt in order to “beat” Tesla?
        I think so, I also think they will lose money on the Bolt to undercut Tesla. More importantly I think they’ve left it too late and BEV’s are here to stay.

        Nissan have had a 60kWH in testing for over a year now and those in the know say that they will only put it into production when it’s finacially viable. The Model 3 will have significantly less than a 60kWH pack as standard. More points to Tesla.

        One significant and important point remains:
        The Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 are two completely different vehicles and this incessant cross comparison is a waste of time and does no service to two incredible BEV’s.

        • Joseph Dubeau

          You are trying to turn argument out of nothing.
          What are you going to do when Nissan release a new model. – have a cow?
          Ford has also announce a 200 range EV.
          Elon Musk welcome a little competition, in fact it’s his plan.

          3. No the Bolt doesn’t have auto-crash software. Most people don’t care.
          Plenty of people charge on existing CCS chargers.

          4. “LG are restricted to 50k battery packs” You should keep your tin foil hat.
          It easy to scale up and/or LG Chem can build a new plant in 9 months.
          Didn’t you get the memo, “they see right through it.”

          “those in the know say that they will only put it into production when it’s finacially viable.”
          Bullshit. Keep your tin foil hat. Just more anti-EV bashing. Are you self loathing Leaf owner?

          • Martin Lacey

            I love the Leaf and am proud to own one. My money is where my mouth is. What about you?

            I Like the Bolt, but won’t be able to buy one in my country. Ford will be late to the 200+ mile party and I hope Nissan have kept their powder dry and can surprise everyone with a 200 mile Leaf soon (my comment about the 60kWH version stands, but can’t quote anyone significant). No sign of anything noteworthy from the Germans.

            You appear to be the “EV basher” at least of Tesla “fanboys”.

            LG have stated they have capacity to make 50,000 x 60kWH packs. Fact based comment. Do you have a source that they can build a new facility in 9 months and scale up?

            Competition is good and I believe the Bolt has upped the game. Just not enough to beat the Model 3 IMO.

            It would be helpful to refrain from insulting people you disagree with and further the discussion by adding salient thoughts and information.

          • Joseph Dubeau

            You sound like Trump support. I sorry that third grader stuff doesn’t work on an adult.
            Stop bashing the Bolt and claim you want one. Everyone can see right through it.
            Stop bashing EV and stop blaming accusing other people of your bad behavior. Grow up.
            I like Elon Musk and Tesla Motors. I don’t like Fan Boi and their bullshit.

          • Martin Lacey

            Do you own an EV?

            Have I “bashed” the Bolt?

            My only criticisms to date are GM’s desire to exclude RHD versions and their lack of support for infrastructure. I’ve expressed an opinion on it’s appearance, but as a Leaf driver it’s quite obvious that I don’t choose my cars based on appearance.

            Third graders resort to insults and innuendo. Please prove me guilty of such.

            I haven’t accused anyone of:
            1) wearing a tin foil hat
            2) EV bashing
            3) being “Trump support”
            4) being a third grader
            5) behaving like a child and transferring the blame to others.

            The sooner we can engage in a rational discussion and encourage the wider community to embrace BEV’s, the better. I hope on this point at least we can agree!

  • Joseph Dubeau

    Nikki, every single GM Bolt article attracts hateful bashing from Tesla Fan boys.

  • jusben1369

    Bolt vs Tesla is nuts. 97% + of the market is buying ICE. There’s more than enough for both of these cars to be successful.

    • Martin Lacey

      Exactly!

  • Surya

    A very solid offering from GM it seems. And I prefer it’s formfactor over the Model 3. But supercharging is hard to beat. Still, I’ll consider this car when I replace my Zoe.

  • gcozette

    Love the car, but GM reportedly has NO PLAN for high speed charging station infrastructure around the USA. Our 2001 Honda CRV is on its last legs. Would buy a Bolt as soon as available if GM had been forward thinking enough to plan for rapid-charging locations so we can make our monthly 350-mile trip from Chicago to visit relatives in northern MIchigan.

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