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GM’s new car is an important inflection point for electric autos

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt on display as a sneak peek Sunday, January 4, 2015 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
GM/Isaac Brekken
The plug-in 2016 Volt will also be unveiled Monday.
This article is more than 2 years old.

General Motors will on Monday unveil a long-awaited electric car with a 200-mile range per charge and roughly $30,000 pricetag, creating an inflection point in which electrics appear likely to shift into the mass market.

As of now, the car will be called the Chevrolet “Bolt,” the Wall Street Journal reports in a scoop. After the $7,500 US federal government subsidy, it will cost $30,000 to $35,000, and is planned for production two years from now.

That sets up direct competition with Elon Musk’s planned Tesla Model 3, which has the same general description and is also planned for launch in 2017, though it could be delayed until the following year.

As we reported in August when this GM-Tesla rivalry appeared to be simmering, the competing 2017 electrics are important for two reasons—200 miles of range on a single charge may eliminate “range anxiety,” the concern of potential buyers that they would run out of juice on the freeway, in the snow, or in an unfamiliar neighborhood; and $30,000 to $35,000 is a sticker price that will put the two electrics in the mass consumer market.

Until now, electrics have been a niche market, largely the domain of the extremely rich. The two cars—the Bolt and the Model 3—are a bold strike against internal combustion, even amid low gasoline prices.

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