Will Bolt Production Be Announced This Week? Should Tesla Worry?

Despite the Detroit Free Press reporting the Chevy Bolt EV Concept will be announced in Chicago this week for production, General Motors’ official stance is “it’s just a concept” and no further comment.

Press days at the Chicago auto show begin tomorrow, so we may know soon enough but meanwhile stories abound drawing comparisons to the Tesla Model III, ostensibly positioned at essentially the same price point and range – $35,000 or so and 200 miles or so.

To date, not one person has set eyes on Tesla’s Model III drawing or prototype although it is spoken of as though it’s a fact, and aside from missing physical evidence there is much reason to believe it is coming.

Tesla has said it is coming, and made statements here and there for a few years. It is all part of the plan to start from the high-line Model S and go toward affordable mass-market cars.

But Tesla has been repeatedly delayed with its Model X SUV, another high-end vehicle, and the next vehicle in line for production. Whether this is sapping attention from co-developing a Model III is unclear, and ultimately this car hinges on the Gigafactory.

That massive battery plant in Reno, Nev. is going up, is supposed to begin production in 2017 and be up to speed in 2020 at which point Tesla says it will have grown automobile production 15-fold, and the Model III is a big part of it all.

Tesla has said the Gigafactory is needed to enable the Model III, so since it’s not ready, perhaps Tesla need not hurry to show any concepts just yet?

The Model III is reported to be a BMW 3-Series challenger. BMW has introduced also the 4-Series, which is the new mid-level car, and some of these variants are fast, sleek, and handle well with the M4 being most potent.

In a MarketWatch report, a story was put together saying Tesla has nothing to be concerned over, citing the viewpoint of Theodore O’Neill, an analyst with Ascendiant Capital Markets.

O’Neill said the Bolt is “not an attractive car, and it is unlikely that it will be able to travel the 200 miles promised on a battery that appears to be small.”

The Model S is considered attractive and the Model III is supposed to borrow styling from it in a somewhat smaller package. Auto Express even put together an artist’s conception of what Model III could look like.

Going on, the MarketWatch report cites O’Neill as saying, “Tesla is at least five years ahead of competitors in terms of battery technology.”

“With its battery factory going up outside Reno, Nev., [Tesla] is expected to produce batteries that are cheaper and more efficient to power Tesla’s mass-market car. GM is going more for marketing with the Bolt, O’Neill said,” the reports says.

MarketWatch however is a financial site and analyst O’Neill spoke his own opinion, which does fly in the face of GM’s having a massive base of engineering talent, reiterating strong commitment to the Bolt being “game changing” and many more positive indicators.

“We have made tremendous strides in technologies that make it easier and more affordable for Chevrolet customers to integrate an all-electric vehicle in their daily lives,” said General Motors CEO Mary Barra. “The Bolt EV concept demonstrates General Motors’ commitment to electrification and the capabilities of our advanced EV technology.”

In an e-mail query to GM, a company representative would only confirm GM has the largest battery lab in North America, and would not comment on the report, Bolt, or Tesla.

As it is, GM has packed many innovations into the Bolt such as a flat floor and excellent space utilization. It uses latest-generation LG Chem cells but details are sparse.

Videos reveal the clean sheet design done in Australia is positioned for everyday modern lifestyles and with a touch of elegance as well.

Unknown is how quick it would be. A Reuters report suggests that 200 miles range may be a baseline, and it may be more, but GM is not saying.

The Bolt is a concept only until further notice.

Will that notice be as soon as tomorrow?