Then, just a few years ago, the company made a U-turn. All of a sudden, there was nothing better than the electric car. In fact, it was the future of the industry. One has to wonder, however, whether any of this fighting talk would have emerged if it wasn’t for Tesla. A few years ago, you were hard-pressed to find any major car manufacturer getting excited about electric vehicles. But today, they’re all the rage. And practically everybody is getting involved.
Step up, the Chevrolet Bolt. This is General Motors’ attempt to take on the upcoming Tesla Model 3. The Model 3 is the car that many people expect to make electric vehicles mainstream. Today, Tesla’s cheapest car, the Model S, will set you back around £60,000. But the Model 3 is due to be less than half that cost, government subsidies excluded. The Bolt is due to be similarly priced. And, as a result, it represents the major competition to the Model 3.
Recently, the CEO of GM, Mary Barry, indicated that the Bolt would might arrive as early as next year. That would give Chevrolet a one-year head start over rival Tesla. The latest on the Model 3 is that it is due to arrive on forecourts in 2018.
The reason both these cars will soon exist comes down to two underlying trends. The first is that the prices of electric vehicles are coming down all the time. The reason for that is that battery tech is constantly getting cheaper. And that, historically, was the major price obstacle. The other trend is the increasing capacity of batteries. For a long time, electric cars were seen as an inconvenience because of how frequently they had to be charged by drivers. But now both companies are promising drivers the convenience of the electric drive train. Drivers need never go to a petrol station or put petrol in diesel car engine ever again. Electric cars will now take them more than 200 miles on a single charge. In fact, Mary Barry has suggested that the Bolt could go as far as 238 miles on a single charge.
This latest announcement from Chevrolet comes on the back of fighting talk from both companies. Tesla recently boasted that it could have an electric car that went for over 400 miles tomorrow if it wanted to. But Tesla is going to be in trouble if it comes late to the market with the Model 3. As successful as the Model S has been, it was always going to be a low-volume car. The real market potential is in high volume, cheap electric cars that are more affordable. Tesla has been marred by scaling and production problems for years. And even though it has promised to increase production to 500,000 vehicles a year by 2018, few believe it. Car production this year actually fell slightly at Tesla’s main plant.
Thus the time is ripe for the Bolt to shake up the car industry.