If a battery electric ride doesn’t have enough range, it can be remedied by the introduction of a range extender gas engine. If it’s ugly, one or two refreshes would be able to change people’s opinion about it.
But there is a disadvantage faced by the Chevrolet Bolt that cannot be fixed, at least without a gargantuan effort from GM. It’s the reason it won’t be able to surpass the Tesla Model 3, and perhaps even the Chevrolet Volt.
When the Bolt starts rolling into dealerships at the end of this year, it would not have semi-autonomous driving unlike the Model 3 and upcoming Nissan Leaf.
However, the hatch would be able to catch up in perhaps its 2018 or 2019 model year, after GM’s Super Cruise system is launched for the Cadillac CT6. That cannot really be considered a disadvantage.
Where it would lose out is in charging infrastructure, because unlike the Tesla Supercharger network, there is no unified system in place for other plug-in electrics. This handicap is shared between non-Tesla models and, to be fair, is seen more as an advantage for Tesla rather than a weakness of the Bolt.
That’s because DC fast-charging, combined with 200 miles on a single charge would as a matter of fact be enough for long road trips once in a while. Looking at it objectively, the Bolt isn’t sorely lacking, and won’t massively inconvenience buyers who are spending most of their time commuting within the city.
It’s just that when buying a vehicle – more so for EVs which are typically pricier than other mass market compacts – every pro and con counts, even those ‘just in case’ ones like easier road tripping perks for buyers who never go on road trips.
This advantage on paper would cause the Bolt to lose out to the Model 3 big time, and there’s nothing that can be done about it at this point.