General Motors Prices 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV From $37,495 in U.S. Before Incentives, With CCS DC Quick Charging $750 More

Last week, General Motors confirmed that its upcoming 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV — a car that has taken just eighteen months to go from auto show concept car to fully fledged production vehicle — had been awarded an official 238-mile EPA range per charge of its 60 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, placing it well above the target range for Tesla’s upcoming 2018 Model 3.

At the time, we called the official range rating for the Chevrolet Bolt EV — substantially higher than the “200+” mile range originally promised by GM — something of a “warning short” fired towards Tesla and Model 3 by GM. While the Bolt EV and Tesla Model 3 are technically in different market segments, we argued that the two cars’ target prices (below $37,500 and $35,000 respectively before incentives and excluding dealer and licensing fees) made them direct competitors.

The Bolt EV will cost more than the Model 3-- but it travels further per charge (for now).

The Bolt EV will cost more than the Model 3– but it travels further per charge (for now).

Yesterday, that competition went up a notch when GM finally announced the Bolt EV would retail from $37,495 before incentives when it goes on sale this fall. Add in Federal tax incentives of $7,500 for those buying a full-electric car and the effective price in any U.S. state (assuming you have a tax liability greater than $7,500) falls to $29,995.

That’s still more expensive than the Tesla Model 3, assuming Tesla manages to keep its promise that the entry-level Model 3 will come with an MSRP of $35,000 before incentives.  But while Model 3 is cheaper at least on paper, the cost per mile of range is closer than you might think.

CCS charging will be a  disappointingly expensive $750 optional extra on both models.

CCS charging will be a disappointingly expensive $750 optional extra on both models.

Of course, we should note here that Tesla hasn’t yet released full specifications or prices for Model 3. But if we assume its $35,000 price and 215 miles of range estimate is correct (and it’s likely range will increase before it reaches production as battery cell chemistries improve) the Model 3 represents a purchase price of around $163 per mile of capacity in its battery pack. The Chevy Bolt EV meanwhile, works out to $158 for every mile of range. Both figures are before incentives or any associated fees.

Sadly, that math is sufficiently fuzzy to not be worthwhile benchmark for all but the most casual of comparisons. Additionally, while Model 3 will come with Supercharger hardware built into the car (and activation only a few clicks and a nominal activation fee away) GM will charge Bolt EV owners an additional $750 to include CCS DC quick charging as a build-to-order option.

That price, added to the entry-level Bolt EV LT makes for an effective price of $161 per mile of range offered. For the higher-level Bolt EV Premiere — which adds front and rear heated leather seats, surround camera and rear camera mirror on top of the rear-vision camera, 10.2-inch touch-screen center console and self-sealing tires found on the Bolt EV LT at an MSRP of $41,780 before incentives — the $750 optional DC quick charging yields a $179 per mile range price.

What does this all mean? On paper, the Bolt EV and Model 3 should be pretty evenly matched in terms of price per mile of range offered and everyday practicality. But while the Bolt EV does boast a hatchback form factor and (says GM) the same kind of over-the-air software update functionality as the Tesla Model 3, Tesla may still have the edge when it comes to its Autopilot functionality.

The two trim levels should keep many buyers happy, but we feel the high-end Bolt EV Premium is overpriced.

The two trim levels should keep many buyers happy, but we feel the high-end Bolt EV Premium is overpriced.

That’s because, for now, the Bolt EV isn’t launching with any autonomous capabilities. Given GM’s very public experimentation with autonomous Bolt EVs in California, we’ll admit we’re expecting that feature to be added in the not-too-distant future, either as a premium feature for a mildly refreshed model a few years into the future, or some kind of over-the-air update activating hidden hardware already present in production vehicles.

For now however, Tesla has that particular point won for itself.

If you happen to be in any number of well-supported areas in the U.S. where electric cars are already popular and charging infrastructure exists for cars with CCS quick charging, then the Bolt EV is a car that really will cross shop against the Model 3 and potentially even win thanks to its more everyday appearance and practical form factor. For those who are curious, that means California and the Pacific Northwest, as well as the Northeast, at least for now.

Elsewhere? With GM showing no interest in setting up or even funding an expansion of CCS quick charging networks (instead delegating that responsibility to third-party companies), charging provision for the Chevrolet Bolt EV is and will remain patchy for some time. Tesla meanwhile, already has a rapid charging network willing and waiting. Sure, supercharging will cost customers extra, but the Bolt EV’s only way to counteract Tesla’s charging dominance is to put its money where its mouth is.


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  • Martin Lacey


    Stop with the Bolt/Model 3 comparisons. Pitch it against similar ICE vehicles both in house (GM stable) and by other automakers. Do a piece on break even cost analysis after x months of ownership. Do a piece on why a Bolt is good for the neighborhood and the environment.

    There must be a lot of newbies to EV’s (Electric Vehicles) captured by both the Bolt and the Model 3 who need to learn the benefits of either car and why they should buy one or the other. This incessant comparison may score a lot of search engine hits for folks looking for info on either brand, but does very little to educate, entice and encourage EV ownership.

    • Jeff Laurence

      The two cars are competitively priced and offer similar ranges. I thought a comparison was a natural progression. My next ev would be nice with more range than the 100 my Kia Soul offers and these two are the only ones my budget could tolerate.

      • Martin Lacey

        I understand your situation and there is merit in your point. However the constant compare and contrast between the Bolt and Model 3 detracts from the more serious issue of ICE and EV compare and contrast which should be rigorously made to help those trapped in the ICE age to EVolve their transportation solutions.

  • vdiv

    Was hoping we could read an article about the Bolt EV that doesn’t mention Tesla like 11 times 🙂
    But no mention of the new Zoe or Leaf or i3…

    • Joseph Dubeau

      Model 3, 17 times

  • Jeff Laurence

    The higher price and extra cost of the CCS ports leaves me looking seriously at the Tesla. The looks of the Bolt is certainly nothing to write home about either. Paying for the extra potential range could end up being mostly a bragging rights issue.

  • Electric Bill

    I am expecting some wild and hairy action over the next few months— and perhaps years— as Ford, Chrysler and others suddenly panic, seeing they have been far too complacent and are being left behind in the mad dash to electrify our vehicles. Even Nissan, with its Leaf, is showing its age— not keeping up with the range and capabilities of the Model 3 and Bolt.

    At Drive Electric Day at Expo Park in Los Angeles ten days ago, and the Alt Car Show in Santa Monica last weekend, there was a noticeable ramp-up of attention to EVs and their associated hardware and support. L.A. City politicos had their shiny new Tesla and BMW pursuit and patrol cars on display, and told us about the eleven Teslas now ordered for their department, and the hundreds of public charging stations they have already installed, the hundreds set to be installed, and the intention to continue doing so until charge capability is ubiquitous here.

    Director Chris Paine (“Who Killed the Electric Car?” and “Revenge of the Electric Car?”) and Chelsea Sexton, a major figure in both documentaries, gave us updates on upcoming work at the event.

    The Toyota Mirai— the fuel cell vehicle they have been struggling to present as an option against EVs— seemed to be getting little attention as the public begin to realize there is no advantage environmentally or in convenience in driving just another vehicle that uses fuel to move about. The fuel will be much harder to find than the gasoline they have been using for years, will be made from the same petroleum stock and thus of no advantage environmentally, and will be more expensive. Worse, they will not be able to charge up conveniently at home as, EVs can, do… they will have to continue fueling up outside the home, making dedicated stops.

    California— SoCal in particular— has been a leader in years past in realizing the need for pollution controls, and environmental restrictions to prevent health catastrophes. I am seeing a similar phenomena now: like no other area in the country, SoCal is struggling to prepare itself for a public that will be making a sea change from fueled vehicles to electric power.

    Teslas, BMW EVs, and EVs from other makers are quickly becoming commonplace here. I have at times seen two or three Teslas in traffic adjacent to one another, and there are significant incentives being offered to chains to install charging stations to support the growing number of EVs on the road.

    I am an EVA member, and am in the first stages of creating EV “flash mob” events with a purpose: connecting up with other EV drivers to swoop enmasse on individual Starbucks, MacDonalds, Carl’s Jrs., etc., showing up unannounced to approach the management— pointing out the window to their parking lot… saying, “Look! Your whole parking lot is full of EVs, and we have nowhere to plug in! Should we move down the street to your competition, where they have some chargers? How soon can you give,) us some chargers for when we are shopping here?”

    I am going to encourage the rest of you to do something similar. Form activist groups that can meet up with each other at the same time to swarm one mall, Costco, Walmart, 99 Cent Store at a time, to impress upon them that if they are willing to get up to speed with charging stations, it will be to their benefit.

  • Albemarle

    Please don’t keep comparing everything with Tesla. There is good information here and the story is about just the Bolt EV and can stand on its own. Some of us are suffering from Tesla “just you wait until the new model is out” fatigue.

    Have you noticed the Bolt EV pricing in Canada? With the lower dollar, Chevy has pulled out all the stops to make it marketable here too. Still more expensive than the U.S. (unless you are a professional athelete and are paid in USD in Canada) but quite reasonable. The fast charging is standard too. No details on package breakdowns. I would expect some winter related items standard and some near-luxury items not available. That seems to be the thought process when marketing in Canada.