GM Exec Mildly Chides Tesla Model 3 in Praising the Chevy Bolt

On Wednesday a top executive at General Motors made a few factual if pointed statements about the Chevy Bolt and was called by at least one report for taking “shots” at the Tesla Model 3.

What did he say? The 200-mile EV is developed, ready to go, will be in production this year, and oh by the way, GM has more cash than Tesla and does not need to take reservations.

“I am very proud of the Chevrolet Bolt that’s coming out, which will be the first to market as a long-range affordable battery electric vehicle,” said Dan Nicholson, GM’s vice president of global propulsion systems at the SAE engineering conference in Detroit. “It will have more than 200 miles of range and it will be in production by the end of 2016, so it’s not necessary to put down $1,000 and wait until 2018 or some time after that.”

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Tesla’s Elon Musk said he thinks Tesla can get the car to first buyers by late 2017, but Nicholson’s remark implies what some, including analysts, have said – that Tesla with a history of being late, will be late with Model 3.

However, GM could be feeling pressure with an unprecedented number of people who lined up to wait for Tesla’s Model 3, even if the car does wind up being a little behind schedule.

Tesla has said it had more than 325,000 reservations, and this week, Vice-President of Business Development Diarmuid O’Connell said the count was approaching 400,000.

Chevrolet has zero Bolt reservations because it has not opened it to ordering. But while Tesla appears to be well ahead in the popularity contest, it reportedly may need to borrow or otherwise raise money to get its Model 3 to those eager intenders. Nicholson said this was no worry GM has.

“GM’s balance sheet is in pretty strong shape, so we don’t need to take $1,000 of your money just to hold a spot,” said Nicholson. “And you can actually get it in 2016.”

Musk has not named the Bolt as a direct competitor, and has told reporters he welcomes Chevrolet's entry into the space, even if its timing is ahead of the Model 3.

Musk has not named the Bolt as a direct competitor, and has told reporters he welcomes Chevrolet’s entry into the space, even if its timing is ahead of the Model 3.


Of course these statements were picked from a broader speech, but they were indicators of the corporate giant’s ongoing tensions between it and Tesla.

The Bolt, was developed in part with intent to beat Tesla to the market, and GM did accelerate its development. Both cars are to be priced close – Tesla from $35,000, and Bolt $37,500.

To date GM has not announced range beyond “more than” 200 though one reporter at CES said he was told by Chevrolet the car could travel 235 miles.

The Bolt also looks to be well sorted, a point of pride for GM’s engineers, even if it does not look as sleek as a Model 3, nor does it name German entry level luxury cars as part of its competitive set.

Some Tesla fans have been less than gracious toward GM and its compact crossover – aka hatchback.

As it is, it will be the most advanced EV at its price point when it goes on sale later this year. Unknown is whether Nissan might also roll out a new Leaf before Model 3 gets here too.

Detroit Free Press