Is This the Electric Car You’ve Been Waiting For?
Considering buying an electric car? You might want to hold off for a year or two.
General Motors on Monday unveiled the Holy Grail of electric cars: a battery-powered crossover SUV that goes more than 200 miles on a charge and costs about $30,000. Called the Chevrolet Bolt EV Concept, the high-tech, futuristic car is just that at the moment—a concept. But it’s clear that GM intends to give Tesla Motors a run for its money in the race to develop the first mass-market electric car that can replace fossil-fuel vehicles as your everyday drive.
“This is a real game changer,” Mary Barra, GM’s chief executive, said in Detroit as the Bolt was introduced at the North American International Auto Show. “This is truly an EV for everyone. For most people, this can be their every daily driver.”
“This is no stripped-down science experiment,” she added, saying the Bolt “satisfies the needs of our customers, not just in California but in all 50 states.”
Tesla, whose $90,000 Model S luxury electric sedan is a common sight in the pricier precincts of San Francisco and Los Angeles, has said it will begin selling a 200-mile car called the Model 3 in 2017. Cost? About $35,000.
The sticker prices for both the Bolt and the Model 3 are counting on the continuation of a federal tax credit for the purchase of electric cars. Otherwise, add $7,500 to the price tag.
Still, the introduction of a $30,000 to $40,000 long-range electric car would indeed be, as Barra said, a game changer, putting pressure on other automakers to jump into the game. Consider that the average new car in the United States sold for nearly $32,000 in 2014, according to TrueCar.com, an online automotive sales site.
So when will the Bolt, or some version of the concept vehicle, hit the showrooms?
Chevrolet spokeswoman Annalisa Bluhm said in an email that a production schedule has not been set. But the Detroit News cited a GM executive as saying the car would hit the market in a year to a year and a half.
“We’ve got this pretty much nailed down, and we know how to do it,” Alan Batey, head of Chevrolet’s global sales, said at the auto show. “We would not have come here today and talked about 200 miles and $30,000 if we didn’t really know how to make that happen.”
It’s clear that GM intends to prove that Detroit can compete with Silicon Valley–based Tesla when it comes to gee-whiz automotive gadgetry.
If the plug-in electric-hybrid Chevy Volt, the company’s first foray in the EV market, looked like, well, a Chevy, the glass-roofed Bolt is fashion-forward. The sparse white interior looks like something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey, dominated by a 10-inch video screen and a center console that appears to float between the front seats.
Chevrolet said drivers will be able to use their smartphones to start the car—keys are so 20th century—and summon the self-parking vehicle to them when they’re done running errands on foot. (Tesla said it will offer self-driving features on its cars.)
That would be a Bolt out of the blue.