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Underscoring the broadening market for electric vehicles, General Motors CEO Mary Barra on Wednesday introduced the production model of the Chevrolet Bolt at CES in Las Vegas.
Unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show last January, the production Bolt will seat five and cost $30,000 after government clean-vehicle tax incentives.
The Bolt is significant because it represents the first electric car from a legacy auto manufacturer with range approaching that of Tesla’s Model S and Model X SUV but priced for mainstream consumers.
“The Bolt is the first EV [electric vehicle] that cracks the code of long range at an affordable price,” said Barra.
Tesla’s Model 3, a $35,000 long-range sedan which would compete directly with the Volt, will be unveiled in March but probably not enter production until 2017, possibly giving Chevrolet a head start in the market.
While the Bolt takes several pages from Tesla’s playbook — including navigation that will map long-distance trips around charging stations and take into consideration ambient temperature, wind speed and driving style in calculating range — Barra took several veiled swipes at Chevrolet’s future competitor in her remarks.
Alluding to Tesla’s practice of selling its cars directly to consumers instead of using franchised auto dealerships protected by law in many states (and so far preventing Tesla from legally selling its cars in Michigan, seat of the traditional auto industry), Barra said: “We believe strongly in the dealer model. Bolt EV customers never have to worry about driving to another state to buy, service or support their vehicles.”
The General Motors chief exec cited Chevrolet’s announcement earlier this week that it had partnered with ride-sharing service Lyft to create an on-demand network of autonomous vehicles as evidence of its commitment to “connectivity, electrification and autonomous” as Chevrolet’s future direction.
“The auto industry will change more in the next five to 10 years that it has in the last 50,” said Barra.
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