The race to be the first manufacturer offering an electric car with the capacity to travel more than 200 miles without recharging is ramping up, and Chevy is in the lead. Presuming there are no last-minute mishaps, GM is set to roll out the Chevrolet Bolt, starting at a price below $40,000 (before tax), prior to the end of the year. This will pop Tesla, the electric car manufacturer, to the post as their Model 3 is not set to launch until next year.
Both the Chevy Bolt and Model 3 are a bold attempt to launch EVs into the United States’ mainstream automobile market, however, they have contrasting strategies.
Chevrolet Bolt production has been accelerated by GM as the first delivery date draws closer. Working on its current pattern of a single shift, GM’s Orion assembly plant boasts a 90,000 capacity for the production of new cars every year. This now comes with the ability to switch from producing Chevy Bolts to Sonics on a single line, depending on the demand. By contrast, Tesla is approaching things with far less caution, as they reconfigure their factory in Fremont to ensure it is capable of producing Model 3 EVs at a rate of up to 500,000 per year.
The Bolt comes in at just under $40K, with a starting price of $37,495, and a range of 238 miles. It’s a utilitarian hatchback, compactly built, featuring design quirks like a slender front seat, intended to increase the legroom in the back. It’s hoped this will make the car particularly attractive to taxi drivers and cab firms.
Plug-in hybrid sales and electric car sales comprise only one percent of the light vehicle market in the United States, despite efforts by the government to encourage consumers to buy cleaner cars. GM officials are keeping tight-lipped over how many orders they have received for Bolts to date, however, their Maven car sharing initiative is set to receive Bolts for drivers wanting to work for Lyft, GM’s partner in the ride-hailing industry.
Delivery of Chevy Bolts is expected to start before the year ends.