A key achievement was announced earlier this month when an American automaker unveiled the latest breakthrough electric car available for the masses. No, I am not talking about Tesla Motors but in fact the century-old Detroit-based General Motors.
The latest Chevy Bolt was revealed to achieve a range of 238 miles, an incredible feat given it was just 8 years ago, in 2008, that Tesla rolled out the Roadster with its 244 mile range. Unlike the Roadster, which cost $110,000 to acquire, the Chevy Bolt has a starting price of $37,500.
The fanfare that surrounded the Tesla Model 3 unveiling in March and its jaw-dropping 400,000 pre-orders ignited a race to building an attractive and high volume electric vehicle (EV). While Tesla certainly claims the crown for building exciting electric cars, it has a long way to go to prove, both to its shareholders and customers, that it can roll out the Model 3 fast enough at both the price point ($35,000) and the range (215 miles or better) it has promised. The Model 3 is expected to start shipping late next year while the Chevy Volt gets a huge head start by shipping later this year.
Unsurprisingly, the Bolt is the most clear sign yet that traditional carmakers see clear viability in the EV market and are no longer willing to let Tesla have the market to itself. Others, including Volkswagen (which plans to launch 30 all-electric models) and BMW, are each investing billions of dollars in their respective EV programs.
Tesla too has been pushing its battery technology and is not sitting idle. It recently started shipping a new version of its luxurious Model S, with a bigger 100 kilowatt-hour battery pack able to travel an estimated 315 miles on a single charge. There is little doubt that, given the way the technology is developing, battery powered transport is going to become more prominent.
Range anxiety, drivers’ fear of ending up stranded with a flat battery and no where to recharge, is one factor that has kept a lid on EV sales since auto makers began producing them several years ago. 238 miles on a single charge on a $37,500 car however, may soft-pedal the fear itself.