Posted on January 10, 2018 by Matt Pressman
Although Tesla finished the year with record sales, it's gotten off to a slow start with the Model 3. With a 455,000- person wait list, a lengthy wait lies ahead for plenty of Model 3 reservation holders. Automotive News reports, "That leaves an opening for other EV makers, such as Chevy, to woo away Tesla customers. But it's not an opening Chevy plans on openly exploiting, the company said."
Above: A look at the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 (Image: Business Insider)
"It's not in the cards," said Steve Majoros, marketing director of Chevrolet cars and crossovers. Automotive News reports that regardless of the "test of patience [ahead] for Tesla's wait-listers, Chevy says it won't try to woo them away."
Why would GM shy away from the opportunity to win over customers from Tesla? On the one hand, "on paper, the Bolt EV and Model 3 are similar in terms of performance and price. However, Tesla has created a cult following that had customers making down payments on the car even before its unveiling... most Tesla reservation holders know what they're getting into when they drop a $1,000 deposit."
Above: Even though the Tesla Model S and X are nearly double the price, both Teslas were able beat the Chevy Bolt in U.S. EV sales in 2017 (Source: CleanTechnica)
On the other hand, it's puzzling that GM wouldn't want to "conquest" Tesla buyers. In fact, Seeking Alpha's ValueAnalyst writes, "It is unclear if General Motors is committed to an all-electric future, as its primary horse in the race [Chevy Bolt] continues at low volume... Despite having been on the market for more than a year, Chevrolet Bolt has sold a little more than 23,000 units in 2017."
Looking into CARB's (California Air Resources Board) Zero Emission Vehicle credits program, there could be some clues. Elon Musk explained on Tesla's 1Q17 earnings call: "CARB credits are only effective at a production rate of about 20,000 to 30,000 vehicles a year. So that’s why you’ll see, mark my words, it’s not going to be any higher than that for the Chevy Bolt. That’s on order of 25,000 units a year, or 0.10% of our initial production rate for the Model 3, or (~5%) of what Model 3 will be next year."
Above: Brian Cooley at CNET explains how many legacy automakers often use their EV program to produce compliance cars (Youtube: CNET)
The author, ValueAnalyst, concludes that GM CEO, "Mary Barra proves Elon Musk right... lo and behold, GM has sold only 23,200 units of the Chevy Bolt, right in the middle of the range Elon Musk predicted." Is GM trying to suppress Chevy Bolt sales in order to keep it confined to a "compliance car" as the article insinuates?