April 8, 2016
| On 5 years ago

4 Ways the Tesla Model 3 is Worse Than the Chevy Bolt

The prototype Tesla Model 3 debuted to huge amounts of buzz and more than 325,000 people have already paid a $1,000 deposit to reserve one.

But let’s not forget that the Chevrolet Bolt is also on its way and, like the Model 3, is an affordable electric car for the masses. No, the Bolt doesn’t have the trendiness the Tesla does, and it definitely won’t have the same luxury features or super futuristic look, but the Chevy offering still has a lot going for it. Even though it will start at around $37,500 before incentives and doesn’t have a nationwide network of superchargers, here are five ways Chevy’s latest EV offering might be better than Tesla’s.

1. The Bolt Will Be Available Sooner

GM has fast-tracked the Bolt’s development from concept to production-ready with 55 test mules and 1,000 engineers. It took Tesla’s bait a few years ago, and beat it to market with the spec sheet Tesla has wanted for more than a decade.

The Bolt has been pre-produced already at GM’s Orion facility, and will be green-lighted for sales and production later this year, at least a year ahead of the Model 3, assuming Tesla breaks its streak of missing production deadlines, and makes its late 2017 projection.

ALSO SEE: 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Hold Your Breath on the Tesla Model 3

Buyers determined to get a Model 3 may still plan to do so, but could consider leasing a Bolt in the interim. GM, in turn, will have the advantage of a head start and can get to work, assuming it’s not already, on its next electrified vehicles, as well as the second-generation Bolt.


2. GM’s Production is Well-Sorted

The practice run at the factory and massive pool of engineers speaks to GM’s long years of product development and manufacturing processes. In the plug-in field, GM has established itself with more than 100,000 plug-in electrified vehicles sold over the past five years and all with a stellar track record. Lessons learned are being applied to the Bolt, GM has said.

GM has also been mass producing cars for a hell of a lot longer than Tesla, and might know a thing or two about meeting high demand. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has admitted that he has to rethink Model 3 production because even he wasn’t expecting the demand to be this huge. Tesla is relatively new to mass production and is still sorting out a few kinks in its process.

GM’s EVs also don’t seem to have the same reliability issues or delays Tesla owners have been reporting.


3. The Bolt Has Good Utility

The roomy five-passenger Bolt has a flat floor and tall ceiling and has been touted as making such good use of interior space, that it’s like a vehicle two size grades up from what it is on the outside.

Not quite Dr. Who’s Tardis, the vehicle has crossover utility without having a crossover’s size. And while it’s not a fashion statement, it is brimming with technology, including a 10.2-inch touchscreen with the latest Chevy MyLink, a surround view monitor system, and more.

ALSO SEE: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt Review – First Drive

While the Model 3 will have a frunk and trunk, and Musk said a seven-foot surfboard can be squeezed in, the utilitarian value of a hatchback with seats that fold down to make a larger cargo space may work better for people who place an emphasis on hauling stuff.


4. The Bolt Has Better Odds to Collect the Federal Tax Credit

Unless the U.S. Congress grants an extension, the three biggest plug-in electrified vehicle (PEV) sellers in the U.S. – GM, Nissan, and Tesla – are approaching a 200,000 unit cap per manufacturer in the next couple of years or so. After that, the $7,500 potential benefit starts to fade, being cut to $3,750 for two quarters, then $1,875 for two quarters, then zero.

Between Tesla and GM, the Bolt will benefit by being first on sale. By the beginning of 2017 when Bolt sales are beginning, it’s estimated GM may have used about 123,000-130,000 federal credits, based on PEV sales projections by analyst Alan Baum plus known sales to date.

This could mean GM – splitting sales with Volt and Bolt and possibly other PEVs – may be able to sell only 30,000-50,000 Bolts eligible for the full $7,500 federal credit, depending on how things actually go – but Tesla buyers may be no better off.

Through March, Tesla has sold an estimated 71,610 units out of its 200,000. With Tesla’s 2016 guidance seeing an aggressive stretch goal of Model X and Model S sales, the company wants to increase global deliveries from under 52,000 last year to 80,000-90,000 or so this year.

If Tesla’s U.S. sales this year grow commensurately, that could mean somewhere in the low 40,000 range give or take a few thousand. Assuming continued growth for 2017, by end of that year when the Model 3 is projected, Tesla could have 40,000 more or less credits to split between the Model S, X and Model 3. Assuming Tesla is not late to production, odds are that fewer than 25,000 Model 3 buyers will get the full $7,500 credit before it tapers to half and half again for four quarters after the 200,000 is hit.

A version of this story originally appeared on HybridCars.com