Just about every major car maker is planning to launch an all-electric car by 2020, but General Motors already has some huge advantages against the competition, Stuart Norris, the lead designer for the Chevy Bolt, told Business Insider.
The auto giant made headlines last year when it beat Tesla to market with the first mass-market, long range electric car: the Chevy Bolt. And that alone gives GM an edge in the electric car space, Norris said.
“Actually being in the market is a very big advantage that we have,” Norris said. “Being first in the segment, and being able to deliver a product that does what the Bolt does, I think brings an integrity to the product.”
The Chevy Bolt prices at about $US37,500 before tax credits and gets 238 miles per charge, according to EPA estimates. In comparison, Tesla’s Model 3 will price at $US35,000 before tax credits and will have a range of at least 215 miles per charge. The vehicle is slated to launch at the end of 2017.
In addition to being the first to market, the Bolt’s design also gives it an edge against the Model 3 and other competitors, Norris said.
Tesla’s Model 3, which is a compact sedan, has a design that fits in with the “Tesla formula,” Norris said.
But crossovers and SUVs are currently more popular among consumers, which should ultimately help give the Bolt and edge, he said.
The Bolt has more of a crossover look and feel, he said. The Bolt, though also compact, has a raised driving position and spacious seating that makes the driving experience similar to a CUV, Norris said.
“I think the Bolt EV offers something really compelling in the market. I think it’s very much in line with where the market is going. So we feel very comfortable with where the Bolt EV is,” Norris said. “I think it’s great that Chevrolet is kind of compared with a luxury brand like Tesla and we think we have a great product in the segment that is going to be very appealing to the customer.”
Ford is also planning to launch an all-electric SUV by 2020 that is expected to get 300 miles per charge and price in a competitive price range. And Volvo is launching its affordable, long-range crossover in 2019.
The growing competition in the space doesn’t rattle GM, though. In fact, the company welcomes it, Norris said.
“Having more electrification and more electrification entries is great for everybody. But I think that the one thing the Chevrolet brand can bring is a sense of reliability and trust because people know that Chevrolet knows how to build and put cars together,” Norris said.
“We are bringing disruption through a game changing electrification strategy. But it’s going to be backed up with the dealer network, it’s going to be backed up with the product quality that Chevrolet knows how to sell, service, and look after your product and make sure it’s going to work in people’s everyday lives. So I think that is going to bring us a massive advantage in the electrification space.”
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