GM Exec Slams Tesla Model 3 Reservation Fee, Touts 2016 Availability Of 200-Mile Bolt EV

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There is no love lost between General Motors and Tesla Motors. If the companies aren’t battling it out over the merits of the dealership model, the two are throwing barbs at one another over the emergence of electric vehicles. When GM CEO Mary Barra revealed the production version of the Chevrolet Bolt EV earlier this year at CES, she took thinly veiled swipes at Tesla, touring GM’s vast dealership network, its support of CarPlay and Android Auto, and the fact that GM was beating Tesla to the punch with a mass-market 200-mile EV.

Rather than lash out at Barra with equally dismissive barbs, Tesla at the time issued the following statement:

Commitments from traditional car makers to build electric vehicles advances Tesla’s mission to accelerate the advent of sustainable transportation. We hope to see all those additional zero-emission vehicles on the road.

Now that Tesla has sucked all of the air out the room with the reveal of its Model 3 electric sedan, not many people are talking about the Chevrolet Bolt anymore. Tesla has secured over 325,000 preorders for the vehicle, with over 100,000 of those coming from people who hadn’t even set eyes on it before its reveal. Each one of those customers handed over $1,000 for the privilege of getting a place in line. The mere appearance of the prototype Model 3 has sent shockwaves not only through the tech community, but also the automotive community.

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Once again, GM isn’t impressed with what Tesla has to offer. This time, Dan Nicholson, GM VP of Global Propulsion Systems, touted the achievements of the Bolt and the fact that it has a production vehicle that will be ready to launch later this year.

"I am very proud of the Chevrolet Bolt that’s coming out, which will be the first to market as a long-range affordable battery electric vehicle," said Nicholson today at the SAE World Congress. "It will have more than 200 miles of range and it will be in production by the end of 2016, so it’s not necessary to put down $1,000 and wait until 2018 or sometime after that."

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Nicholson is referencing the fact that Tesla is targeting a late 2017 introduction for the Model 3 and that the company is notoriously bad at hitting launch goals. Both the Model S and the Model X were delayed multiple times — the Model X was initially supposed to go on sale in early 2014 and didn’t end up shipping to customers (in extremely limited numbers) until late 2015.

Given Tesla’s track record, you can’t blame Nicholson for being skeptical at Tesla hitting its mark for a vehicle that is priced 50 percent less than the Model S. Nicholson doubled down on his criticism, later adding, “GM’s balance sheet is in pretty strong shape, so we don’t need to take $1,000 of your money just to hold a spot. And you can actually get it in 2016."

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The Chevrolet Bolt is priced from $37,500 and has a driving range of around 200 miles. The Tesla Model 3 is priced from $35,000 and has a driving range in excess of 215 miles. Both vehicles quality for a $7,500 federal tax credit and various state-sponsored credits and rebates depending on where you live.


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