To Bolt? Or To Wait For 3?

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Originally published on TeslaMondo.

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That is the question — for the very few people who are somehow ambivalent about which brand should get their business. Most potential buyers already have their minds made up, even before the ☰ springs from the cake March 31. What makes TeslaMondo so sure about this?

EVs are statements. When you buy abnormal transportation, you believe you’re saying something, about a bunch of things. You are philosophically invested in the purchase. The car affects your social image, and your self-image, much more than a normal car does.* And so you don’t make the decision lightly. Choosing Bolt vs ☰ isn’t like choosing Camry vs Accord. It’s more like choosing a president. Try finding someone who is ambivalent about Trump vs Sanders vs Clinton.

EV buyers, even newcomers, are tech-savvy and therefore net-savvy. They read lots of sites and peruse lots of forums. They know more about Tesla than the average man on the street. And most importantly, they know GM is trying to hassle Tesla. They might know the details (the Bolt photo-ops near Tesla HQ, the Barra jab during the Bolt debut, the GM letters to state pols about banning Tesla, the Bob Lutz dissage**), but even if they don’t know the details, they’re probably aware of some friction, and they’ve already decided how to vote with their wallets.

An EV purchase usually isn’t urgent. Very few people will order a Bolt just because they’re hard-up for wheels and can’t wait for a Tesla ☰.  These buyers aren’t poor or transportation-deprived. If TeslaMondo is wrong about this, and GM really does grab a first-mover advantage, then watch for a flood of three-year-old Bolts hitting the used market circa 2020 as people try to get into a ☰, or even a Y. By then, the Gig should hit full song. Tesla products should be readily-available.

GM has shown its cards. That’s the problem with going first. So how strong is GM’s hand? TeslaMondo sees a pair of sevens. Like, wow.

*With time, of course, EVs will become normal transportation
**He’s still considered a GM guy.

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45 thoughts on “To Bolt? Or To Wait For 3?

  • GM says it will produce 30,000 / year.
    Good luck getting one!

    I’m glad their producing any, but 30,000 / year won’t move the needle.

      • Oh fantastic!

        You made my day!

        Read a book on Musk, he hopes to prod the major manufacturers to produce electric cars in bulk.

        Think of the tasks he’s assigned himself. Colonize Mars, transition our energy infrastructure to sustainable model, and transition transport to sustainable model.

        I’m fairly certain he wouldn’t mind 1 or all tasks done by other people.

        • Until Musk delivers the Model 3 at target price and target delivery date…

        • Until Musk delivers the Model 3 at target price and target delivery date…

          • The Volt is a wonderful car, Marion.

          • The Volt is a wonderful car, Marion.

      • 50k/year? I think they’ll still be production-limited. GM have made it very clear that they do not have a large enough battery contract to build more. They will probably be able to build more the *next* year, 2018, but then they have competition….

        On the other hand, GM has made a few major mistakes on the demand side. Charger too slow; no fast charging network. Given that the best markets for the Bolt will be places with *no Tesla stores or service centers* but with GM dealers — which tend to be more rural — this is a serious mistake. So maybe the Bolt will be unpopular because of this.

        • I agree about the slow charging and no super charger network. I’ll wait until after I see the Model 3 unveiling to put my $1000 down. But that still means I would have to wait two years to get my Tesla. In the mean time I may lease the Bolt for two years just to get a long range EV sooner and to encourage GM to continue development and hopefully expand the charger infrastructure.

        • Totally agree. Bolt has some fundamental issues when compared to Tesla. Add to that the fact that GM / Chevy tends to do well in rural areas…where they also tend to sell trucks to people who dislike treehuggers…

  • If Tesla doesn’t show a preproduction version of the 3 at the end of the month then I think it is highly unlikely they will make their production target potentially giving GM a significant head start.

    I don’t think Tesla and GM will be targeting the same buyer demographic though. On average I expect the Bolt to be optioned better for cheaper than the Tesla. I expect the Tesla to BE better but that remains to be seen…

    Fortunately for Tesla no matter what, if the EV market is as big as we here think it is, significant production of both these vehicles should not easily satisfy demand for some years to come. Then the real competition should start as more manufacturers come on board with EV offerings and 2nd Gen EV’s roll out as well.

    Exciting times!

    • The first 50k Model 3’s we see will be $50k cars, if not more, and loaded to the hilt with options, with crazy performance, range, supercharger access, etc…

      Whereas I expect the Bolt to be reasonably well optioned at $37k. and the price to then rapidly head down in the first few years, once they have confidence in the platform. Make no mistake, GM obviously intends to compete on price / value, not range, performance, or fast charging.

  • From everything I’ve seen so far, it looks like the Bolt is a hatchback and the Model 3 is a sedan. After being a hatchback/wagon owner and seeing how much more functional they are than sedans, I can’t imagine going back to a sedan. That’s what has me leaning toward the Bolt.

    • Model S is a hatchback which looks like a sedan. As a result it’s the most functional car I’ve ever owned.

      I expect Model 3 to be similar, but who knows?

      • Just wondering how much more cargo space the Bolt will have over the Tesla 3. Or how much more space would Tesla gain if the hatch wasn’t sloped as much? I hope the Model 3 has more of a back end like the HR-V, CX-3 or newer Ford Escape.

        • Model 3 is a smaller version of the Model S Sedan, nothing like HR-V, CX-3 or Escape…for that you have the Model X or cheaper Kia Soul to match prices to those CUVs.

  • I don’t know about GM in particular but I bought a used 2015 Leaf with the expectation that in a few years the Tesla 3 will exist and can actually be purchased. Since many people lease new EVs I think this article misses the mark a little bit. Most people who even want a model 3 will have to wait a couple of years before they will be able get their hands on one once they are released. At least, I expect initial demand to be very high with limited supply. If it is on the order of 2 years then I could see people who want Model 3’s getting interim Bolts (or obviously other BEVs).

    Since we don’t know the physical dimensions of the car yet I could very well be forced to never own a model 3. The other Tesla models are wider than my garage door. I am pretty excited for that detail alone 🙂

  • Currently in Leaf lease till early 2017 but putting my deposit March 31st for a Model 3 to get a spot. If NMAC gives me a buy out price under 8K for the Leaf I’ll keep it till the model 3 reservation is filled or just lease a Soul EV for a couple of years as I’m not really impressed by my Leaf but as long as it’s cheap it’s acceptable.

    Never been a Chevy fan and the Bolt starting 2.5K above the model 3 price makes it even more unappealing.

  • Currently in Leaf lease till early 2017 but putting my deposit March 31st for a Model 3 to get a spot. If NMAC gives me a buy out price under 8K for the Leaf I’ll keep it till the model 3 reservation is filled or just lease a Soul EV for a couple of years as I’m not really impressed by my Leaf but as long as it’s cheap it’s acceptable.

    Never been a Chevy fan and the Bolt starting 2.5K above the model 3 price makes it even more unappealing.

    • Tesla will likely run out of the $7500 credits before you can get a Model 3, so the Bolt will be $5k cheaper. I also expect the Bolt to come down in price quickly, just like the Volt did (which dropped nearly $10k in 3 years).

      • Everyone is talking about Tesla running out of credits when, actually, GM and Nissan will probably run out of credits FIRST! Remember that it is only US sales that count for the 200,000 limit. Tesla has around 50,000 now, GM 90,000, and Nissan 90,000.

        • Point. I think a lot of us forgot that PHEVs qualify for the credit. So the big automakers have been using up their credit allowance on PHEVs.

        • The difference is that the Bolt will be available for sale in 6 months. The Model 3 won’t be available for at least 18 months, potentially more like 2 years in keeping with dates slipping on all the other models released.

      • Obama’s budget calls for changing the credit to a instant rebate at time of purchase and raising the amount to $10,000.00 as well as extending the time. We may not see that happen till the next president takes office but I’m sure that will be a Democrat so there is still hope!

        • It’s unneeded.

          We’re on path to purchase price parity for EVs within the next five years. That means that an electric “Camry” would cost the same to purchase as the gasoline model.

          Almost certainly demand for mid-$30k long range EVs will eat up all the available battery manufacturing. There’s no reason to increase demand by chopping the price to the mid-$20k range with subsidies.

          What the government should do, and it would take Democratic control of both the White House and Congress, is to create some sort of price on carbon. Make it more expensive to use fossil fuels. That would accelerate efficiency, renewable energy, and electric cars.

          The money collected via a price on carbon needs to be returned to consumers in some form in order to eliminate any impact on the economy.

          • Is perfect price parity completely necessary for EV’s to be on equal footing? If the difference is only a couple grand, the cost advantages of EV’s in fuel and maintenance should make up the difference. Not to mention the “cool” factor, performance, smug satisfaction of saving the planet, etc.

          • That’s true. It’s been the case for some time that the lower operating costs of EVs made them cheaper to own over their lifetimes than ICEVs. But that was with sub 100 mile range EVs.

            Now we’re (apparently) going to get EVs with plenty of range and over a few years the cost to manufacture them should close with the cost of ICEVs. The number of years to break even will shrink until we reach a point at which it will be cheaper to purchase an EV than an ICEV.

    • Tesla will likely run out of the $7500 credits before you can get a Model 3, so the Bolt will be $5k cheaper. I also expect the Bolt to come down in price quickly, just like the Volt did (which dropped nearly $10k in 3 years).

  • I need a longer range EV to replace our 2012 Leaf. I also need charging. CCS is so limited in the NW that a car that only uses that is a non starter and I expect others also see it that way. Apple’s 6 has similar basic issues that were obvious to many but the company was oblivious.

    • Many places are installing dual connectors to their stations and most new ones are dual. So unless all your stations in your area Nissian dealers by the end of the year I could easily see CCS being around as much as the Japaneses standards.

      • I need to see this. So far I haven’t seen this with AV, my primary provider.

  • Buy from a company that fought safety glass, seat belts, pollution controls and sabotaged rapid transit systems OR a company that has led the way with EV’s an customer service?

    • Using that logic, stay away from BMW as they used slave labor during WW2.

      I tend to judge companies on their current products instead of their past.

      • OK, buy from a company that produces millions of rolling bricks that use billions of gallons of fuel or a company that produces cars that use no fossil fuel.

        • Yep, GM does build ~8 million cars/year. Would you prefer they close up shop and let VW take over their market?

          The auto makers sold 17.5 million cars and light trucks in the U.S. last year, plenty of room for both GM and Tesla.

          • Too bad that you cannot understand the difference between GM and Tesla.

          • Sorry, I am not playing the fanboy crap.

            I am not a car enthusiast, moving towards a low GHG economy is my primary concern.

            I hope GM and Tesla sell alot of EV/PHEV.

        • GM has done a good job with the Volt. They (and Nissan) are getting to the ‘serious’ EV game faster than any of the other traditional car manufacturers.

          If people buy Bolts, GM will build more Bolts. We want all car manufacturers to produce and market EVs.

  • Oh the Bolt. The electric car made by LG. Hmmmm I’d say GM has room for one in a museum next to the Impact/ EV-1. And of course you could squeeze a little Sparky between them for good measure. Good luck selling 3,000 of them. Maybe UBER would buy a100,000 of them but no forget that.No Autopilot .They bought them from Mercedes already. Best wishes GM.

    • Sounds like someone is worried that the Leaf will lose sales to higher range EVs.

      • Naw just don’t like GM. As far as the Leaf , my first generation ownership has been exceptionall. I bought the car under the assumption of anything first. Risk The second generation Leaf I feel will be Superior to anything GM builds. That’s just my bias opinion though. Buy whatever you like. Just buy electric. Hundreds of people have driven my Leaf and want one. I tell them to sit on the fence a bit longer. Some haven’t. That’s a good thing.

        EVADVANCEMENT Google +, Pinterest, YouTube

        • “Naw just don’t like GM”

          Never really understood that attitude, February was the hottest month on record, disturbing reports of accelerated glacier melting are in the news and the sales of EV/PHEV remain pathetic.

          And you seem to be cheering for GM failure? You do have company as many hard core conservatives and deniers are with you.

  • The Bolt looks like the BMW i3!

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