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GM executive fires shots at Tesla’s Model 3

Published Apr 14th, 2016 9:33AM EDT
Tesla Model 3 Vs Chevy Bolt
Image: Tesla

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In the span of just one week, Tesla managed to secure more than 325,000 reservations for the recently unveiled Model 3, a spectacular tally which blew away expectations and even surprised Elon Musk. But the auto industry being what it is (read: hyper competitive), GM executive Dan Nicholson couldn’t help but take a shot at Tesla’s mass market EV during a recent speaking engagement.

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Notably, GM, via Chevrolet, has high hopes for a mass market EV of its own, the Chevy Bolt EV. Introduced earlier this year, the car is comparably priced to the Model 3 ($37,500 vs $35,000) and sports a range of 200 miles. Now the Bolt EV may not have some of the bells and whistles that will likely accompany the Model 3, but it will certainly hit the market a lot sooner, a point that Nicholson used to throw a quick jab Tesla’s way.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

Dan Nicholson, GM’s vice president of global propulsion systems, said the Chevrolet Bolt battery electric vehicle will go on sale long before Tesla’s Model 3 — a car that has generated far more national buzz.

“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,” Nicholson said today at an 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.”

On a practical level, it’s a fair point. The Chevy Bolt delivers where it matters; it’s affordable for mainstream buyers and has Tesla-level range. What’s more, Nicholson’s snide remark about the Model 3 not being available until 2018 isn’t off the mark. From the Roadster and the Model S to the recently released Model X, every single Tesla vehicle ever released has launched later than Elon Musk initially promised. For what it’s worth, Tesla claims to have learned from its past mistakes, though it remains to be seen if the company can actually meet its late 2017 launch date for the Model 3.

The Chevy Bolt, in contrast, will be available much sooner as it will likely be available later this year.

The big question, though, is if it even matters. There’s so much hype and excitement surrounding the Model 3 it’s hard to imagine any competing EV really putting a dent in Tesla’s armor. One might even say that the only thing that can stop Tesla at this point is Tesla, which is to say that they better get a handle on production as to avoid any product delays.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that Tesla had nothing but kind words to say about the Chevy Bolt EV after its January 2016 unveiling.

“Commitments from traditional car makers to build electric vehicles advance Tesla’s mission to accelerate the advent of sustainable transportation,” Tesla said in a statement at the time. “We hope to see all those additional zero-emission vehicles on the road.”

Of course, it’s easy to welcome competition with open arms when you’re at the top of the food chain.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.