By Joseph Moss – email@example.com
It is happening. Electric vehicles (EVs) are coming in in great fashion, and that from manufacturers we can actually trust. Nissan has EVs—Renault as well; BMW ventured into making a whole new iBrand for them, and GM finally revealed the much-anticipated Bolt. The number of EVs are going up for sure, but all these creations simply vanished from the minds of drivers and buyers when Elon Musk, a US-based South African entrepreneur, announced that its Tesla Motors is about to reveal the Model 3—the third car in its portfolio after the Model S and the Model X.
Social networks exploded; economic analysts could not believe their eyes when they saw what was unfolding before them, with hordes of people standing outside Tesla Motors showrooms. They were ready to put down a $1,000 deposit for a car worth at least $35,000, which they will receive at best in December 2017. March 31, 2016, is definitely a turning point for the car industry. 115,000 people put down $1,000 deposits in a single day, and a week after, Elon Musk tweeted that more than 376,000 orders have been made for the Tesla Model 3, making it the most successful product launch in history. The cumulative total that Tesla could acquire is at more than 11 billion dollars. At this point in time, we are definitely looking at more than 400,000 orders.
So why have we mentioned the Chevrolet Bolt in the title and not some other EV!? It is simple. The Chevy Bolt is an all-electric car created from scratch, with a MSRP of about $37,500 before incentives. It was revealed before the Model 3 (at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show), and it has a massive conglomerate supporting its creation. So people should like it a lot, wouldn’t they?! Its nemesis, on the other hand, is a brainchild of inspired people working for small Tesla Motors, which actually does not even have a battery factory set up at the moment (they are building a massive one, calling it the Gigafactory).
Like the Bolt, the Model 3 is a $35,000 car (a bit cheaper, but no one will actually buy it in its entry-level configuration) before incentives. But right there is where all the similarities stop. It has a whole different story related to it when it comes to market appreciation, architecture and the whole aura and spirit surrounding it. If we are to judge it, we would say that the Tesla Model 3 is a car one buys because he/she wants it, and the Chevrolet Bolt would be a car one buys because he/she needs to. That probably sums up all the problems the Bolt might have and the Model 3 probably won’t have at all. Also, the Model 3 is almost like a perfectly educated and great-looking underdog whom we all want to succeed, and we are willing to pay money for that.
Another wise thought about these comments comes from a car journalist. He said that the Tesla model is an electric car that would sell for 35 grand even if it had a petrol engine in it. The Bolt is not that at all. The Chevrolet EV would sell for 20 grand with a petrol engine on board. And this really is what spiritually and perceptively differentiates the two—not the tech, the price or the monster service network, but the sheer emotional connection one or the other makes with the buyer.
In terms of technicalities, the Tesla Model 3 and the Chevrolet Bolt are both quite impressive feats of engineering. Both have batteries positioned as low as possible thus ensuring a low centre of gravity and, more importantly for some, much more free room in the cabin. Tesla engineers really did wonders with all the space they had in the Model S, even giving it a seven-seat option. The Model 3 is not as big, but thanks to smart design and maximally utilized space at the front, the car reportedly offers enough room for five persons. More importantly, not even one of them will ever have to touch any physical buttons. Everything anyone could ever want is on the massive 15-inch display connected with the Internet at all times.
The engine in the Model 3 is still undisclosed, but we do know that the entry-level Model 3 has enough power to accelerate to 60 mph in six seconds flat and to cover 215 miles. Bear in mind, we are writing here about the entry-level car. The more expensive, upscale version will be much faster, and we reckon will have a range of 300 miles. Luxury? A lot of that, too. Panoramic glass roof goes all the way to the back, faux leather can be integrated inside, and everything is electronically operated as in the best limousines of today.
The problem with the Tesla Model 3 is that the production of so many vehicles is quite tough. No one knows if they will ever meet their goals, and at this point, some of those who ordered the Model 3 will have to wait until 2019 to get it.
The Bolt, on the other hand, is a well-executed car, has enough power—200 hp and can accelerate to 60 in seven seconds. Even more importantly, the car has the same range as the Model 3—215 miles (at first Chevy released the car with a range of 200 miles, but only a week or two after the Model 3’s reveal, they’ve improved it to 215 miles). What is really the best bet for the Bolt is its availability. It is available right now. And GM did the same trick with the interior as Tesla. The Bolt is practically a B segment car with D segment interior. It is roomy, cozy, comfortable, has a nice push and does not look bad for an MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) hatchback “thingy”. So these two cars are basically demonstrating that electric cars can meet the metrics of weight, speed and roominess that all of us are used to (actually, that all of the economy is used to).
What are the next steps then?
For Chevy, the next step may be to accommodate the Bolt to use Tesla Motors Supercharger and Destination Charging networks. We are quite sure that will not happen any time soon, but Tesla Motors ventured into this business mainly to create a massive supercharging network. If they become a major player and meet production goals, their network will certainly affect the industry in an unprecedented way. Think about it—if 500,000 electric cars, all Teslas, use the only Supercharger network in the world, why would anyone ever buy another car except the Tesla!? This network, along with the tech wonders such as the Autopilot feature (available on all Tesla Model 3 cars), is definitely Tesla Motors’ best bet. When they get the cars to the roads (about 100,000 Tesla cars roam the earth right now), the Supercharger network could be the most important thing anyone has ever built in the world. And yes, it is free, and it can recharge 80 percent of the batteries in 30 minutes. The Bolt, on the other hand, can receive up to 90 miles worth of electricity in the same time.