Kelley Blue Book analyst Karl Brauer predicts that Chevrolet will sell between 30,000 and 80,000 of its all electric 200 mile range Chevy Bolt automobiles in its first year. If so, that will be a whopping sales success for the bow tie brand. Brauer’s prediction is just an opinion, of course, and worth precisely what you paid for it.
What is notable about Brauer’s projection is that his lower end is at the top of what Chevrolet says its expectations are for the car. Even if he is correct, his top prediction is less than 20% of the number of Model 3 cars Tesla says it will be selling by 2018.
Since the two cars are so similar in range and price, why does Tesla already have nearly 400,000 reservations for the Model 3? Why do the majority of Germans polled say they would prefer a Model 3 to any car manufactured in Germany?
Let’s look at some of the factors.
- The Model 3 is drop dead gorgeous. Yes, it may have a small trunk opening and some might prefer a hatchback, but the car we saw at the reveal on March 31 has a boat load of visual appeal. The Chevy Bolt is a pleasant looking car but no one has accused it of being beautiful.;
- The Tesla will have fast charging capability and access to an global network of dedicated Supercharger locations. The Chevy Bolt will be limited to Level 2 AC charging, so far as we know. Charging infrastructure is growing but finding an available charger is still a challenge for most people.
- The Tesla will undoubtedly have Tesla’s Autopilot system available at least as an option if it is not standard equipment. The Chevy Bolt might have autonomous driving capability some time in the future. Despite a recent study that says most customers don’t want autonomous driving technology, the number of reservations for the Model 3 seem to contradict that finding.
- The Tesla Model 3 will have a larger battery and Ludicrous Mode optional. Together, they will make it potentially one of the fastest production cars on the road. The Chevy Bolt, on the other hand, should be able to accelerate to 60 mph in under 8 seconds. Ho hum.
- The Model 3 will have an interior that looks “like a spaceship.” The Bolt will have an interior that has digital instruments and a touchscreen.
- This may be a bit unfair to General Motors, but actions have consequences. Too many people think of GM as the company that dragged its feet for a decade to avoid an expensive recall over defective ignition switches. It also went bankrupt recently and had to be bailed out by American taxpayers. Many people still resentfully refer to it as “Government Motors.”
- Tesla has not been without quality issues. Consumer Reports says its early cars suffer from too many drivetrain failures. Lately, it has had a flood of issues concerning its Model X. But here’s the thing. So far, Tesla has been pro-active at addressing any issues with its cars that have come up. In survey after survey, Tesla owners say they are happier with the service they get from Tesla than the owners of any other make of car. Don’t even ask where Chevrolet ranks in such surveys.
- Tesla has forged a reputation as a leader in automotive technology. It also has a core corporate philosophy that favors the end of fossil fuels. GM is yesterday’s news. It has made no commitment to averting climate change. It makes fat profits from selling gas guzzling trucks and SUVs.
If Chevy does manage to sell 80,000 Bolts in the first year, that will be a stunning achievement. But the real question is, how many will it sell in the second year, once the Model 3 becomes generally available?