Will the Chevy Bolt EV Ruin the Car Industry?

September 13, 2016 by Douglas A. McIntyre

Electric vehicles have at least three drawbacks as far as customers are concerned. They take too long to charge. Cheap oil makes traditional vehicles affordable. Electric cars can only go 200 miles. Once these factors fall away, electric cars will gain a great deal of appeal.

General Motors Co.’s (NYSE: GM) Chevy partially answered one of these. Its new Bolt EV has a 238-mile range:

Chevrolet promised to offer the first affordable electric vehicle with 200 miles or more of range and will exceed those expectations when the 2017 Bolt EV goes on sale later this year. With the vehicle’s EPA-estimated range of 238 miles, owners can expect to go beyond their average daily driving needs — with plenty of range to spare — in the 2017 Bolt EV when charging regularly.

That is a trip from New York to Boston without a stop.

One of the primary appeals of the Bolt EV is its price. GM has not announced one, but based on the price of its stablemate Volt at $33,220, it probably will be low enough to compete with Tesla Motors Inc.’s (NASDAQ: TSLA) Model 3.

From Karl Brauer, a senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, made an extraordinary comment:

There’s no denying Tesla’s influence on the automotive industry, and the arrival of the Chevrolet Bolt is probably Tesla’s most impactful result yet. GM would have developed an EV to help it meet CAFE standards, but Tesla proved there’s a real-world market for an EV with real-world mileage. Except Chevrolet went one better than Tesla, offering its real-world EV with real-world pricing, making it the first viable, mainstream EV in the automobile’s 130-year history.

The case has been made over and over that gas-powered cars will rule the road for decades. Probably that depends and the price, availability and usability of electric cars, and the price of gas. While a number of the world’s largest car companies are well along in releasing electric cars, Chevy has at least one advantage. It is GM’s largest brand, with a massive dealer network and a reputation that is a century old.