What constitutes a game changer? In the auto game, it will be the vehicle that begins the changeover from the internal combustion engine to all-electric.
That turning point will have a bold impact on the nation and the world’s air quality and consequently human health. The smog produced by the internal combustion engine is linked to several illnesses including asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, pneumonia and heart disease.
Autoweek identifies two key elements of the Bolt likely to make the difference—cost and range. With its 238-mile range and a $37,495 (before the $7500 federal tax credit), the Chevrolet Bolt EV, an all- electric car will travel at least twice as far as anything else currently on the market. After the tax credit, Bolt’s base price falls $4,000 below the 2016 average new-car transaction price. As for fuel efficiency, the Bolt’s EPA rating is 119 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent).
Two key elements of the Chevy Bolt that will make a difference — cost and range
Meanwhile, demand to take the lead in becoming the “car of the masses” in the all-electric market heats up. This month Tesla announced the retooling of its factory in Fremont, CA in preparation for pre- production of its all-electric car, the Model 3. Production launch could begin as early as July 2017. The base price of the Model 3 is $35,000(pre-tax credit), and the expected range is 215 miles per full charge. Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, has set a bold production goal of 500,000 cars through 2018.
What are changes to the rules of the game that could cause these bold initiatives to fizzle? The elephant in the room is the uncertainty of what the Trump administration will do. An EPA waiver allows California’s tougher emission standards which are currently driving the most electric car sales. Almost half of the 160,000 electric and hybrids sold in the US in 2016 were sold in CA. If these tougher standards are no longer allowed, CA sales could begin to dry up.
Additionally, the $7,500 credit could disappear in a new tax bill. Simon Mui of the Natural Resources Defense Council claims the subsidies are critical to the viability of the electric vehicle market, and without the tax credit, it could be 5 to 10 years before electric cars are price competitive.
For the all-electric car to be a real game changer, it’s going to take more than the right political climate and an affinity for green energy. To this end, Mary Barra, GM’s bold, innovative CEO since January 2014, points out the finer points of the Bolt, like roominess and connectivity. “No one’s gonna buy 200 miles if it doesn’t come with a great vehicle,” Barra says.
The bolt rollout may mark the turning point for the electric car market. Time will tell. Meanwhile, many parts of the planet continue the wait to breathe clean air.