The Chevy Bolt EV Range Is Blowing Away Expectations—and Even Tesla’s Model 3
The Chevrolet Bolt, the all-electric car that will go on sale later this year, will get 238 miles on a single charge, greater range than it initially promised and 10% more than its rival Tesla’s mass-market car, the Model 3.
At least for now.
Nine months ago, General Motors (GM) CEO Mary Barra promised the automaker’s upcoming Chevrolet Bolt would be an affordable, connected electric vehicle built for everyone. It was a noteworthy remark—one she made during a keynote at CES, the annual consumer electronics show—largely because it showed GM was gunning for Tesla (TSLA), the much smaller, but popular electric carmaker that has been seen as a leader in the space.
General Motors originally said the Chevy Bolt would be equipped with a battery that could get 200 miles on a single charge. The company announced Tuesday that the EPA gave it a range of 238 miles.
It’s a critically important number for GM, which wants to show that it’s serious about electric cars. It’s also a public double-dog dare of sorts to Tesla, which unveiled a 215-mile range electric car—the Model 3—in April.
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Both electric cars are aimed at the mass market. The Model 3 is expected to be about $35,000, and the Chevy Bolt is supposed to be below $37,500. Both electric cars should be eligible for government clean energy incentives of up to $7,500.
However, the battle between the two automakers isn’t over yet. GM might be beating Tesla to market with its Chevy Bolt. But Tesla has been mastering electric vehicles for years. It’s likely that the Model 3, which isn’t expected to be shipped until late 2017, will end up with a greater range than 215 miles.
If Tesla does squeeze out more range from its battery, the competition will come down to each car’s performance and built-in tech, as well as brand recognition and geographic reach. The Tesla Model 3 has some slick design finishes, notably the swooping rear window and its sculpted nose. It’s also loaded with tech, including a 15-inch touchscreen and the company’s hands-free semi-autonomous driving feature called Autopilot, which will come standard in the car. And it accelerates from 0 to 60 in six seconds, which should attract consumers looking for some extra zip.
Tesla also has a fervent following. Even before the public unveiling of the Model 3, reservations for the mainstream car hit almost 400,000.
Meanwhile, the Chevy Bolt has the backing of the much bigger and cash-rich General Motors. Not only can GM spend millions—if it chooses—in marketing the car, it also has a major presence in every U.S. state. Tesla, which doesn’t use dealerships, is banned from selling directly to consumers in several states (and in at least one case, it’s thanks to legislation GM helped orchestrate).
The Chevy Bolt also has some nice interior touches and tech-forward features of its own, including a 10.2-inch touchscreen and inductive charging so you can power up your smartphone wirelessly. It will also be equipped with OnStar 4G LTE, which turns the Bolt EV into a Wi-Fi hotspot. Apple (AAPL) CarPlay and Android Auto, a platform that lets drivers integrate their smartphone with a vehicle’s dashboard, is standard.
This story has been updated.