The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt is well on its way to the masses after General Motors revealed that the mainstream electric vehicle is now in production. The company estimates that the car will begin rolling out of its Michigan assembly lines at the end of 2016.
The appeal of the Chevy Bolt, which was launched at CES 2016, not only rests on its green credentials but also on its more affordable price point.
The Tesla Model S electric vehicle is outstanding in terms of performance and range but its price tag is quite steep. On the other hand, cheaper alternatives such as the Ford Focus Electric and Nissan Leaf tend to have shorter range.
Bolt addresses the weaknesses of these two EV categories. Its base price of $37,495 can drop to $30,000 after state and federal tax credits and rebates. To put this figure in context, one can turn to a recent report that states how the average vehicle in the United States costs around $34,000.
To complement the affordable cost, Bolt boasts of a 238-mile range per charge, which is twice more than its cheap competitors could manage. The latest Tesla Model S P100D can cover 381 miles on a single charge. However, a new Tesla EV variant called Model 3, which will directly compete with the Chevy Bolt, has almost similar range. It will retail for $35,000 but it will join the party late, with a 2017 target release.
According to General Motors, Bolt will initially hit the streets of California and Oregon before the end of the year. The rest of the country will be able to snag one next year.
While it seems that everything seems going well for the Chevy Bolt, there are a few weaknesses that could set it back in the eyes of the general public. First, there is the design. Bolt's subcompact econobox-like construction could be obliterated by the upcoming Model 3's design language. Tesla's entry-level EV is unarguably a looker, with a futuristic style befitting the technology it sports under the hood.
While Bolt beats the Model 3 to the market, it also did not accept preorders. Tesla has already amassed 400,000 preorders, which could affect Bolt's sales upon launch.
Finally, there is also the challenge of competing with traditional cars with internal-combustion engines. Although the Chevy Bolt's price is within striking distance of the cost of the average car, it still has to contend with the value of gasoline, which has plummeted since last year. The price currently averages $2 per gallon.