Last week, the New York Times ran an interesting story gushing over the revolutionary potential of the Chevy Bolt. Comparing it to the much awaited Tesla Model 3, Farhad Manjoo noted that the Bolt will be out before the Model 3, will be similarly priced (around $30,000 after incentives), and will actually get more range (238 miles) than the base configuration of even the higher priced Teslas. As Manjoo notes, it's pretty amazing to think that GM—a company so recently on the verge of bankruptcy—has embraced the future of affordable electric vehicles, demonstrating that emissions-free, affordable, long-range transportation really is feasible.
What's perhaps a little more debatable is exactly what this means for Tesla's future, and its legacy. Manjoo is pretty clear in his opinion that The Bolt does not bode well for Tesla, and he seems to relish in what he sees as the irony of the situation:
It's certainly an interesting turn of events. And Manjoo is right that Tesla faces significant hurdles in moving into the mass-scale, mass-market world that GM moves in. That said, as I discussed this article with a friend, he pointed out a very important point: Elon Musk has always been very vocal in asking the mainstream automotive world to get serious about electric cars.
A first affordable long-range electric car, which I drove last month and which blew my mind, is not a Tesla. I had to fly from Silicon Valley to Detroit to drive it because the vehicle was invented not by a celebrated start-up, but by that hoariest cliché of tarnished American manufacturing glory, Chevrolet, which is owned by General Motors.
True, it's anybody's guess whether Tesla will successfully make the transition into the mainstream. But even if it doesn't, there's a powerful story to be told. As my aforementioned friend put it:
The pace of the development of electric cars has been accelerated by probably more than a decade thanks to an automobile startup. And an automobile startup is practically an oxymoronic term.