The clear favorite between the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3 is surely the latter, though it has often been pointed out that they both appeal to very different buyers despite being compact all-electric vehicles.
While it’s true that the Model 3 has more battery options for superior range to the Bolt, as well as semi-autonomous driving and an all-round better design, the key advantage that would lead to the small sedan vastly overpowering the contender from Detroit is infrastructure.
GM, along with other EV makers, has not invested in charging stations as much as Tesla has for its worldwide Supercharger network. That is the cutting edge from Palo Alto to which automakers cannot catch up, given how far Tesla has gone in that respect.
However, there’s hope that the Bolt could at least keep from straggling too far back in competing with the Model 3. The fact that it is going to have a head-start of over one year in being available in the market (production begins October this year) is one; the other has to do with the $7,500 federal tax credit limit.
Tax Man Saves The Day?
In the US, plug-in electrics have a ceiling of 200,000 units when it comes to buyers getting the tax cut of said value. That applies to each automaker, not each vehicle model. So far, Tesla has amassed over 75,000 sales with the Model S and Model X combined.
It’s far less than the Chevy Volt at more than 95,000 units, but at the rate Tesla is going (about 13,250 deliveries so far this year), it is going to soon run out of tax credits to give when the Model 3 starts to deluge the market in 2018.
What that could mean is most of the 350,000+ Model 3 buyers paying the full $35,000 retail price for the compact sedan while the Bolt costs $30,000. Of course the incentive will run out for GM soon enough as well, but it gives the Bolt some hope against a far superior rival.