General Motors (GM) is working on a new electric vehicle with a range of 200 miles that will directly compete with Tesla's upcoming Model 3 luxury sedan.
A report by Wall Street Journal cites sources familiar with the matter who say the Detroit-based automaker is getting ready to unveil the Chevrolet Bolt concept car at next week's North American International Auto Show.
The family-size sedan, which is reportedly set to hit the market in 2017, will be able to drive a range up to 200 miles, similar to the entry-level Model 3, and will be sold for $30,000, undercutting the $35,000 Model 3 that is also expected to debut in 2017.
"Two hundred miles is seen as some sort of barrier where the notion of range anxiety goes away," said one source.
The sources pointed out that the Chevy Bolt will be a "hatchback designed to look more like a so-called crossover vehicle." It will run on a lithium-ion battery manufactured by LG Chem in the manufacturer's Holland, Mich. facility.
The company says improvements in its manufacturing process will allow it to supply 20,000 battery packs. A battery pack can accommodate the Bolt's 200-mile range.
"We have progressed far enough that it gives us a high level of confidence that in the 2017 kind of a time frame, there are no show stoppers or gotchas that we don't know how to get over," said LG Chem CEO Prabhakar Patil.
GM spokesperson Terry Rhadigan declined to comment on the story, but he did not deny the report either. For years, GM executives have been talking about developing a 200-mile range electric vehicle.
In March 2013, former GM CEO Dan Akerson spoke about an electric car that can drive 200 miles on a single charge. This was confirmed by GM vice president of global product development Doug Parks in September of the same year, adding that the automaker was working on a 200-mile range vehicle that's worth $30,000.
By giving the Chevrolet Bolt a very similar name to the Chevrolet Volt, GM hopes to cement itself as a full-line producer of vehicles that can meet market demand regardless of their preferences. Eight years ago, GM introduced the compact plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt at the Detroit auto show and has quickly become a symbol of GM's efforts to innovate technologically.
However, the Volt has been a disappointment for GM, which sold only 73,000 Volts since its debut. In 2014, GM sold a total of 18,805 Volts, an 18.6 percent drop from 2013's figures. By contrast, Nissan's all-electric Leaf, which sells for $30,000, sold 30,200.
GM is also expected to debut the latest version of its Chevy Volt next week. Like the earlier models, the redesigned hybrid will feature a gasoline generator that would kick in after the battery runs out over a 200-mile range. The Chevy Volt will reportedly be available for $30,000 in 2016.