Chevy Bolt Won't Compete With Tesla Model S

| About: Tesla, Inc. (TSLA)
This article is now exclusive for PRO subscribers.

Summary

After the Chevy Bolt revealing at CES last week, many proclaimed the Bolt will hurt Tesla Model S sales.

New information from the NAIAS gives us a better look at the Bolt specifications.

While it appears that GM will be the first auto company to deliver an affordable, long-range EV, it will not compete against the Model S.

The Tesla Model S is a high-end, luxury, performance vehicle, while the Bolt is a much smaller electric crossover.

Overview

At first glance, uninformed consumers may believe that all electric vehicles (EVs) are created equally. However, the truth could not be further away from that statement. The Chevy (NYSE:GM) Bolt is a small, electric crossover that has little in common with high-end, luxury, performance vehicles. But that is precisely the type of car many are comparing the Bolt to.

The Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model S is a large, luxury sedan that has the performance metrics to compete with the best cars in the world. Even suggesting that the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model S are on the same level is an insult to everything Tesla has already accomplished. Putting that aside, this comparison aims to show how different the Bolt and Model S really are and dispel the misconception that all electric vehicles are created equally.

Chevy Bolt Versus Tesla Model S Base Comparison

While the base models for the Bolt and Model S have similarly-sized battery capacities and range, that's where the similarities end. The Bolt's acceleration is neither slow or fast while the Model S is impressively quick despite its heftier disposition. Meanwhile the Bolt's projected starting price is only 55% of the Model S base configuration.

Source: Google

Vehicle

Battery (kWh)

Range

0-60 mph

Cost

Chevy Bolt

60

200

7 seconds

$37,500

Tesla Model S

70

230

5.5 seconds

$69,900

In addition, standard equipment for the Model S will easily outshine what will be available on the Bolt. The Model S includes: automatic keyless entry, parking sensors, power folding and heated side mirrors, map and navigation with real-time traffic updates, daytime running lights, blind spot warning, automatic emergency braking, GPS-enabled Homelink, lane departure warning and an eight-year, infinite mile battery and drive unit warranty.

The Bolt may include a couple of the aforementioned options, but will not be able to come close to matching that list when it hits the market. Anyone who is considering a Model S is unlikely to cross-shop a Bolt for this reason alone.

Charging

By far the biggest advantage that the Model S has over the Chevy Bolt is its ability to charge much faster. The Bolt's onboard charger is 7.2 kW while the Model S configured with dual chargers has a 20 kW onboard charger. A full charge on the Model S, despite its bigger battery pack, takes less than half the time of the Bolt to get a full charge. In addition, DC fast charging with the Bolt will only add 90 miles of range in 30 minutes compared to the Tesla's 170 miles. That's a 90% increase in fast charging rate and gives the Model S a huge advantage in long distance travel.

Vehicle

Onboard Charger

Full Charge

DC Fast Charge (30 min)

Miles Added Per Minute

Chevy Bolt

7.2 kW

9 hours

90

3

Tesla Model S

20 kW

4 hours

170

5.7

And I didn't even mention that free long distance travel on the Supercharger network and fast AC charging on the destination charging program is also included. The ability of the Model S to charge at much faster rates than the Bolt gives it a distinct advantage for long distance travel. Also, the SAE Combo fast charging network is severely underdeveloped compared to Tesla's Supercharger network. I feel like I'm beating a dead horse on this one, but the Model S is a significantly better car for road trips than the Bolt will be due to its vastly superior fast charging infrastructure.

Vehicle Dimensions And Design

Another big difference between these two vehicles lies in their respective dimensions. The Model S is longer, wider and has almost twice the cargo volume. From a size perspective, these two vehicles differ greatly. And as such, the utility of the Model S is greatly enhanced compared to the Bolt.

Vehicle

Length

Wheelbase

Width

Cargo Volume

Chevy Bolt

164"

102.4"

69.5"

16.9 ft3

Tesla Model S

196"

116.5"

86.2"

31.6 ft3

Source: Tesla and Electrek

The same goes for the each vehicle's design. While the Bolt isn't a bad looking car, it can't match the design aesthetics of the Model S. The Model S is an elegant looking luxury vehicle while the Bolt is an average looking EV crossover. Again, even comparing these vehicles is a disservice to Tesla.

Bolt Versus CPO Model S

Despite all the differences between these two vehicles there is one scenario in which these vehicles could be cross-shopped. Someone who's interested in an affordable, long-range EV will have two choices by the end of 2016 or early 2017. The Chevy Bolt or a certified pre-owned (CPO) Tesla Model S. In fact, Tesla CPO prices are already below $50,000. The question then becomes, "Is a new, electric crossover better than a used, luxury, performance sedan?" However, with the release of the Tesla Model 3 coming within one year of the Bolt's release, it's likely that many will wait to see the production version of the Model 3 before making a decision.

Conclusion

Even though the Bolt and Model S have a similar driving range and battery capacity, the similarities end there. Acceleration and luxury options are obviously better on the Model S while the Bolt will have fewer options from which to choose. But the biggest difference lies in the charging rates of the respective vehicles. The Model S handily beats the Bolt in both AC and DC fast charging, making the Model S a much better road trip vehicle. The SAE Combo network is poorly developed while the Supercharger and destination charging networks comprise the most robust EV charging network in the country. The two cars also don't look alike and differ greatly in size and dimensions.

In fact the only way that these two vehicles will be cross-shopped is if one is considering a well-equipped Bolt and a CPO Model S. In that scenario, it's likely that the Model S wins out due to the aforementioned reasons. However, that's not to say that I think the Bolt won't be a success. As I stated in a recent article, the Bolt is likely to sell well, but it will take sales away from Nissan (OTCPK:NSANY) and BMW (BAMXY), not Tesla. Not all EVs are created equally.

Disclosure: I am/we are long TSLA.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.