The electric vehicle wars are changing. Today, Sept. 20, General Motors announced that the Chevrolet Bolt, the company’s first fully electric vehicle, will go on sale in the US later this year. The starting price for the car will be $37,495. That is about $2,500 more than Tesla’s most affordable vehicle, the Model 3, which won’t go into production until 2017.
When Quartz tested the Bolt at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the car was pretty much just like any other regular compact car. And it looked unremarkable. While it didn’t stand out as a bold design or evoke the kind of a radical departure from ordinary driving that Tesla CEO Elon Musk likes to provoke, it does have a few advantages over the forthcoming Model 3.
First, the Bolt will have a better range than the Model 3: It will be able to drive about 238 miles on a single charge, according to GM; The Model 3 will only manage about 215 miles.
Not inconsequentially, there’s a far greater chance that you’ll be able to get your hands on a Bolt in the foreseeable future. In a release shared with Quartz, GM said that the Bolt will be “available at select dealerships in late 2016.” While the company wasn’t immediately available to explain just how many dealerships will have the car, Tesla is unlikely to ship its first Model 3s until the end of 2017, and it will probably be a long time after that—possibly into 2019—before you’ll be able to walk into a dealership and buy one.
Even if Chevrolet launches a small batch of Bolts in 2016, it can scale up quickly. Let’s remember that GM is among the world’s biggest carmakers and it has the infrastructure to scale up production over 2017 if initial demand is positive. Tesla, on the other hand, is still building its new factory, the Gigafactory, which likely won’t be running at full steam for years.
On the other hand, the Bolt will cost a bit more than the Model 3. So customers on the fence about electric vehicles could put their name down for one of Tesla’s cars, lease a high-end hybrid vehicle in the interim, and wait until the new Teslas start rolling off the factory floor in meaningful numbers, assuming that they eventually do.