Update: Can GM Challenge Tesla Motors with the Chevy Bolt?

GM Electric Bolt

GM Electric BoltGM has finally lifted the veil on a new and highly anticipated electric car called the Chevy Bolt, which it plans to introduce by 2017. This dates coincides with Tesla Motors’ theoretical availability of its affordable electric vehicle (EV) the Gen III. Both cars are expected to deliver a 200 mile range in certain driving and road conditions for about $38,000 to 35,000 before incentives, if any are left by then. GM feels its all electric Bolt will challenge Tesla Motors’ Gen III.

GM EV1 to the Spark EV

GM has had a rocky start with electric cars, as the infamous Who Killed The Electric Car documentary showed the world. The EV1 was a great start, but both GM and Toyota caved to external pressures and lost precious time fighting each other to be the world’s number 1 automaker. Both companies unceremoniously crushed the EVs they introduced a few years prior.

After much commotion, and a decade later, GM reintroduced the fun and zesty Chevy Spark EV.  It was claimed to be the most efficient electric car on the market. If you’ve missed our Spark EV review, check out the synapses. We like the Chevy Spark EV a lot, I had fun driving with its phenomenal torque (more than a Corvette!) and felt it was a good restart for GM. The Chevy Bolt ups the ante with a 200 mile range, over 100 more than the current Spark EV. GM now wants to challenge Tesla Motors with its Bolt EV.

Technically, there is very little known about the Chevy Bolt yet, and we can assume GM will continue to work with its current battery maker LG Chem, which supplies the lithium-ion batteries for GM’s plug-in hybrid, PHEV Volt. LG announced a few months ago that it was working on batteries that can deliver a 200-mile range for an average sized car.

GM Electric Bolt

GM Bolt challenges Tesla Motors

Since GM has gathered a lot of experience with the EV1, the Chevy Volt and now the Spark EV, we can assume the company should deliver on its bold promise. However, if you’ve been reading the news, you are aware that GM wants to give Tesla Motors some competition. As to the question, “can GM compete with Tesla Motors?”, it would seem the latter has a serious head start. Tesla has been using regular, off the shelf lithium-ion batteries from Panasonic successfully for its cars. To give you an idea of how well these batteries have progressed over the years, the new and improved Tesla Roadster 3.0 uses cells that are 30% more energy dense than the original batteries.

chevy bolt 2

Cris Ciaccia points out in TheStreet that GM is a long way from being competition to Tesla. Peter Thiel’s recent book Zero to One explains Tesla’s technological advantage: “Tesla’s technology is so good that other car companies rely on it: Daimler uses Tesla’s battery packs; Mercedes-Benz uses a Tesla powertrain; Toyota uses a Tesla motor. General Motors has even created a task force to track Tesla’s next moves,”

Having said this, here is the ultimate question, if you were to chose between a comparable Chevy and a Tesla, which would you chose? Next, we’ll talk about the new Volt that finally gets a nice aesthetic redesign. In the meantime, we look forward to seeing the GM, and I guess Chevy Bolt and see how well it compares to a Tesla Gen III.

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Nicolas Zart
Born and raised around classic cars, it wasn't until Nicolas drove an AC Proulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Eager to spread the news about those amazing full torque electric vehicles, he started writing about this amazing technology and its social impacts in 2007. Today, Nicolas covers renewable energy, test drives cars, does podcasts and films. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he made in those industries. His articles are also published on Teslrati, CleanTechnica, the Beverly Hills Car Club and Medium. "There are more solutions than obstacles." Nicolas Zart