Why a story specifically surrounding the Tesla Model 3, you might ask? General Motors and Tesla have long traded blows over electric cars and the Model 3 is poised to be some of the most direct competition to the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV. Now that Tesla has finally revealed official specs surrounding its mass-market electric car, we can finally compare the two.
Tesla held a “Handover Ceremony” for the first 30 customers of the new Model 3, where the automaker delivered the big news: an EPA-estimated 220 miles of range and a $35,000 starting price. That’s compared to the 2017 Bolt EV’s 238 miles of range and a $37,495 starting price. Both cars qualify for up to $7,500 in federal tax credits.
The big question is this: does the lower starting price of the Model 3 outweigh 18 fewer miles of range? For most average consumers, probably not. But there’s no denying the Model 3 is a sexier looking piece of machinery than the Bolt EV, and both cars have their own fans.
There’s a catch to the Model 3, however. Tesla CEO Elon Musk hinted the sedan would outgun the Bolt EV’s 238-mile range—and it does if the customer will pay up. The 220-mile range Model 3 warrants the $35,000 price, but a 310-mile range Model 3 is also available, though, the price climbs to $44,000. At launch, the long-range Model 3 will be the only version available; the 220-mile range variant will enter production this fall.
To keep costs down, the Model 3’s interior is very minimalistic. There’s no gauge cluster, only a 15-inch touchscreen in the middle of the cockpit to display all vehicle information. Standard features include navigation, Internet connectivity, LED headlights, and basic Autopilot electronic driver aids such as collision avoidance and automatic emergency braking.
$5,000 nets the advanced Autopilot functions found in the Model S. More luxurious features such as leather trim, 12-way power seats and upgraded audio system can also be had for an additional $5,000 package.
Tesla plans to produce 100 cars in the month of August, but will ramp up production to 1,500 cars in Septemeber. By December, Musk says production will be around 20,000 cars per month. Those who place an order today will likely receive their Model 3 by the end of 2018.
At the same time, the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV will roll out nationwide at the end of summer, which means the Bolt EV remains a “right here, right now” kind of choice for electric car buyers. Nissan will also debut its 2018 Leaf this fall as well.
Tesla has fired its first mass-market electric car shot, but it remains to be seen whose firing power will be heard ’round the world—a new American revolution in transportation is brewing between GM and Tesla.