You’re all set to launch the world’s first affordable electric vehicle with 200+ mile range. You’re pretty excited because reviewers call the car “attractive,” fun to drive,” and “game-changing.” But before you start getting the idea this is a story about Tesla, whose Model 3 set the automotive world by storm bygarnering 325,000 preorders this week, remember that the first company to announce a mass-market, long-range EV was General Motors.
Phasers on stun?
For its part, Chevy says it’s unfazed by what’s going on. A report in Autoblogquotes Chevy spokesman Kevin Kelly on the response to Model 3: “Any interest you see from people … it helps everybody,” he said. “We are very excited to see high demand for the technology in a vehicle like this and I think it will bode well for the Bolt EV.“ One person that hopes Kelly is correct? Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk who has been calling on automakers to get serious about EVs for years.
The good news for Chevy, aside from Musk’s likely positive feelings toward GM’s efforts to promote battery-powered transportation, is the big head start it will have. While Chevy has been unwilling to get pinned down on a sales goal for Volt, chastened by aggressive forecasts for the Volt plug-in hybrid that were never achieved, rumors suggest a goal of 20,000-30,000 for the first year.
With a starting price of $30,000 after the $7,500 federal tax credit, that seems like an achievable goal, with some sales likely coming at the expense of both the Volt and Nissan’s electric Leaf. The market for EVs has seen small gains lately in the U.S., with most of the growth thanks to Tesla at the high end. In 2015, Leaf sales fell sharply, BMW’s i3 saw gains, while the Volt felt slightly ahead of a new model. The collapse of gas prices and the relatively slow growth of high-speed public charging (other than the proprietary Tesla Supercharger network) has limited the growth of the segment.