It has been two years since Tesla founder Elon Musk has made a public appearance in Detroit, and while his company has grown considerably since then, he is now facing a new and improved General Motors (GM) when he arrives Tuesday.
GM showed off its fully electric Chevrolet Bolt at the North American International Auto Show on Monday. Not to be confused with the Chevy Volt, its hybrid car, the Bolt will average 200 miles per charge and cost around $30,000, after a $7,500 Federal income-tax credit. The electric car will be available in about two years and is one of the few cars that could give Tesla a run for its money in the currently niche market.
GM also unveiled a renovated Volt, which originally failed to appeal to the masses with its $40,000 price tag. The 2007 model got only 38 miles on one charge before it would switch from its battery to its gas tank. While the new model now holds a charge for 50 miles and includes a third passenger seat, the Bolt easily outshone its sister car in the eyes of many gearheads. The SUV-like, orange hatchback Bolt is about $6,000 cheaper and is a sign of the future for fully electric cars.
"For most people, this car can be their daily drive," Mary Barra, GM CEO, told the crowd at the Chevy exhibit on Monday.
The Bolt is a four-door vehicle with a shape that reminds many of BMW’s i3 electric car. The Chevy Bolt is made of materials such as aluminum, magnesium, and carbon fiber, which make the vehicle incredibly lightweight.
As Newsday reports, the Bolt is just a concept car at the moment, but its release date coincides with Tesla’s plans to release a mass-market electric car that gets the same mileage. Tesla’s Model 3 will be slightly more expensive at around $35,000, but it is looking like the two companies will be battling it out to see which can capture the low-end of the electric car market.
Tesla has remained mostly out of reach to the average consumer. Its Model S can range from $80,000 to $100,000.
While Tesla may now be facing stiff competition, it is hard to imagine this is not exactly the kind of healthy rivalry the company was hoping to create for itself after releasing its patents to the public last year.
"Tesla is always supportive of other manufacturers who bring compelling electric vehicles to the market," the company said in a statement to the LA Times this week. “We applaud Chevrolet for introducing the Bolt and are excited to learn more about the product."
While many speculate that dropping fuel prices will hold back fuel-efficient cars, gas prices will inevitably rise again, and the green-car industry is revving to make its move.
"There are a lot of people who don't make snap decisions based on the current price of gas," Mark Reuss, GM's executive vice president for global product development, said in an interview with the LA Times. "These are people who care about what they are doing to help the environment for the next generation."
The LA Times went on to quote Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelly Blue Book, as saying that there has yet to be an “affordable-yet-functional” electric car released for public consumption and will remain an “automotive unicorn” until someone solves this problem.