Increase Adds To Everyday EV’s Appeal
Tesla may have beaten mainstream automakers to the punch, but now that the secret is out on electric vehicles, Detroit wants a piece of the action. In fact, marques from around the globe are stepping up EV production and beginning to build electric cars that appeal to everyday people because they look, feel and drive like regular cars.
By giving the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt hatchback a 21-mile bump in range compared to previous years, Chevy has outdone Tesla at its own game. Charging is still a major differentiator for EVs, and longer range means less time spent waiting at a charger when you could be driving.
Is Standard Good Enough?
Important to note is that the Bolt’s new range outstrips the Standard Plus Model 3 (at 240 miles for $38,990, about the same as the Bolt), but not its premium trim levels. Tesla buyers who want to pay more can opt into the Long Range ($9,000) or Performance ($17,000) variants of the 3 to unlock 310 miles of range. However, that shouldn’t be viewed as an oversight by Chevy. Whereas Tesla positions its cars as exotic, high-tech and performance-tuned, the Bolt is coming into its own as a happy, zippy little pretense-free utilitarian hatchback. That’s a car people will buy.
The Bolt first hit the market in 2017. It was positioned as the first affordable, 200+-mile-range EV and has since been joined by competition from Kia, Hyundai and Nissan, to name a few . Tesla has managed to continue selling despite multiple PR flare-ups, seemingly due to the cult-like devotion of its buyers. However, if the company continues to struggle at turning a profit and if quality assurance problems are not reigned in, Tesla should expect to lose market share to these big-brand offerings.
The Bolt and cars like it have the support of automaker juggernauts behind them. There is an undeniable difference in the build quality these cars can offer, the cost to maintain them and the sheer range of models that a mass-market manufacturer can produce. Even though the Bolt is only selling a few thousand units per quarter at the moment, it could be the first sign of hard times to come for Tesla.
Along with investing in better EV technology, expect to see major players expand the charging infrastructure for electric cars. This is another area where there is ground to be gained. Currently, EV owners have to navigate a menagerie of memberships and smartphone apps to find, gain access to and activate the limited number of charging stations in the world. If a Bolt driver can fill up more quickly and easily than a Tesla driver, the bow-tie car begins to look much more attractive.
Bolting Toward the Future
If you want instant acceleration, quirky hatchback looks that aren’t too pretentious and zero assumptions about how smug you are, the Bolt is a top choice.