Tag Archives: Chevy Bolt vs Tesla Model III

Customers aren’t bolting to GM

Despite a year’s worth of high-profile headlines — in the New York Times, Wired and recently Business Insider — about GM beating Tesla to market with a really good EV, today we learn that the Bolt isn’t selling. Dealers are polarized in their treatment of the car, but neither treatment is generating sales. They’re either discounting the Bolt heavily, or marking them over sticker price while they await buses of super-excited Bolt customers who’ve never heard of Tesla.

Bungle Bus TeslaMondo

It’s clear that Tesla has paralyzed the EV market. No electrified Sonic will break that paralysis. And so the myriad journalists who’ve been writing about the Bolt vs Model III battle obviously made very dumb assumptions about parity between the two cars, and the two companies behind them. Yes, the cars have similar starting prices and range, and yes, both companies make cars. That’s good enough for auto journalists in 2017? Then journalism is  beyond dead.

And regarding the calendar, it’s not the chief determinant of who beat whom. Honda scored a similar “calendar victory” over Toyota when the two companies released their first hybrids in the late 1990s. The Insight beat the Prius to the US market by a few months.

And, um, the rest is history.

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Model III opening act: Chevy Bolt

It’s spring, 2017. Tesla dominates every automotive website and is becoming a household name even among non-enthusiasts. Everyone is talking about the Gigafactory, and the imminent Model III and its very large customer waiting list. Along comes the Chevy Bolt. It’s available already. No waiting around for that hyped Model III. You can have a cheap-ish Chevy with good range right now, for about the same price. GM is publicly patting itself on the back for beating Tesla to the punch. Yes, GM is the real innovator ’round these parts. The General began that PR push in 2015 and hasn’t let up.

But here’s the question of 2017: Would you rather have a Chevy immediately or a Tesla very soon, for about the same money? What about your friends/relatives/coworkers? Would they pull the trigger and get a Bolt instead of waiting a few months for a Tesla?

If you can’t imagine yourself or anyone you know choosing a GM product over a similarly-priced, similarly-timed, American-made Tesla, that should tell you something about GM’s ability to poach Tesla customers. Here’s the reality: Assuming the Bolt does indeed narrowly beat the Model III to market, it will function merely as an opening act, as in a rock concert. It will prime the public for the new wave of affordable, long-range EVs. The beneficiary of all this? Tesla, the company whose products are to electric vehicles what Kleenex is to facial tissue, Vaseline is to ointments and Prius is to hybrids. (By the way, the Honda Insight beat the Prius to market in the US by seven months. Yes, the now-extinct Honda Insight.)

So thank you, General Motors, for deciding to warm up the audience. Perhaps someday you’ll become the headliner.

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