There has been a lot of build up and an extensive prologue when it comes to the electric car market. Now, the market finally finds itself with two companies promising affordable electric vehicles that also have a sufficient range to assuage consumer anxiety. Those two are the Chevy Bolt and the Tesla Model 3.
Though the two vehicles will be competing for the same customers, the companies producing each one are markedly different. The battle between these two vehicles will evidence the strengths and weaknesses of each automotive brand, as well as the preferences of electric vehicle buyers.
A recent poll from Clean Technica asked, "Which model electric vehicle(s) are you most likely to buy/lease?" The results were pretty definitive with the Tesla Model 3 topping competition with 55.28% of the vote. The Chevy Bolt ranked 6th with 17.29%.
The poll shows that there is a lot of interest in the Tesla Model 3, and that many people, if they actually do end up purchasing an EV, intend to purchase the Tesla Model 3. Intention does not guarantee a sales victory for Tesla (which I will get into later,) but it does show some of the things that Tesla has going for it.
Though both vehicles will have similar prices and ranges, the Tesla Model 3 may offer more prestige, and that means spending the same amount of money for something that makes you look a lot more "cool." Tesla says that the BMW 3-series, an entry-level luxury sedan, is the target vehicle for the Model 3. Meanwhile, the Chevy Bolt is styled more like a premium compact car. On looks, prestige and general "cool" factor, Tesla has an advantage.
Another strength for Tesla is its already established network of vehicle superchargers. It is yet unknown how long the Model 3 will take to charge (the Bolt can charge 90 miles worth of range in 30 minutes, and the model 3 should be able to achieve the same or better,) but even if the range was less than the Bolt's, the wide availability of supercharger stations would bring piece of mind to many buyers.
First, GM has the advantage of having produced huge-volume vehicles in the past, and the experience of delivering vehicles to customers on time (something that Tesla has yet to master.) GM's efficiency was shown in the development on the Bolt itself. The vehicle was announced, designed, and moved to production in approximately one year. The concept was shown at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, and a year later the production model was unveiled at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show.
This means that even if Tesla benefits from higher demand, it ultimately may be unable to deliver Model 3s to all the customers who want one simply because it does not have the capability. Those customers could flock to the Bolt instead. Pre-release waitlists for Teslas that remain long despite delays show that esla may be able to weather the storm if they end up delaying the Model 3 as well. Still, the Chevy Bolt will be available to drive home and into customers garages a full year before the Bolt, and that is a huge head start.
Quality is another strong point for the Bolt when compared to the Model 3. Tesla currently builds a small number of fast, innovative luxury vehicles with plenty of high-tech. Luxury car buyers are also more forgiving of reliability issues than those purchasing affordable sedans. Tesla is sailing into uncharted waters.
“Established automakers with scale and profit margins that Tesla can only dream of are preparing vehicles that will take on the Model 3 directly. How will Tesla maintain its hype and prestige if its $35,000 car feels less luxurious than a $20,000 gasoline car … or even a comparably priced electric Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Bolt?”
Are you considering the Tesla Model 3 as well as the Chevy Bolt? Do you see any additional strengths or weaknesses when it comes to this electric vehicle battle?