Does the Bolt Really Have More Range Than Tesla Motors, Inc.'s Model 3?

By Markets

Model 3 prototype. Image source: Tesla Motors.

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Ever since General Motors' (NYSE: GM) announced the official range and pricing of its all-electric Chevrolet Bolt earlier this month, the media has unsurprisingly jumped at the opportunity to compare it with Tesla Motors' (NASDAQ: TSLA) upcoming Model 3. Since both vehicles will cost about the same, it makes sense people would be interested in comparing the world's first more affordable all-electric vehicles with over 200 miles of range. But much of the Bolt's media coverage is getting one key point wrong: It's still not clear that the Bolt's promised range is greater than the Model 3.

Tesla Model 3 range is still unknown

General Motors' new Chevrolet Bolt, which will be available at select dealerships by the end of the year, will boast an impressive 238 miles of driving range on a single charge, the company said earlier this month. This is an unheard of all-electric driving range at a $37,500 price point.

With Tesla only promising 215 miles or more of driving range on a single charge for its Model 3, this has led to much media coverage of the Bolt concluding the vehicle has trumped Tesla on the key metric. But Tesla hasn't actually stated the Model 3's official range, so the winner can't be identified yet.

Similar to the way General Motors only promised 200 miles or more of range for its Bolt until a few months before the first deliveries were supposed to begin, Tesla is waiting to show all of its cards -- including the Model 3's range -- until closer to production.

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Tesla has been very clear that it hasn't announced the official range of Model 3 yet.

"I want to emphasize these are minimum numbers," Tesla CEO Elon Musk said when Tesla unveiled the $35,000 vehicle in March -- just after announcing the Model 3 would have at least 215 miles of range.

Further, the Model 3 will certainly have more than 215 miles of range, Tesla recently confirmed with The Motley Fool. Even more, Tesla emphasized to The Motley Fool that its promised range for the Model 3 is only for the base version of the vehicle. This means there will almost undoubtedly be battery options available with higher range. Of course, a larger battery will push the vehicle's price higher, probably to the tune of $5,000 to $15,000, depending on upgrade options Tesla decides to make available.

Does it matter?

Does it really matter who the range king at this $35,000 to $37,500 price point will be? In the grand scheme of things, probably not.

Chevrolet Bolt. Image source: Chevrolet.

Tesla's Model 3 and General Motors' Bolt are two very different classes of vehicles. The Model 3 sells customers an entirely electric car brand, unparalleled vehicle software, and access to an expansive charging network offering charging nearly twice as fast as General Motors is promising. Further, Bolt is more of a compact vehicle and Tesla promises the Model 3 will fit five adults comfortably. Based on the 373,000 deposit-backed reservations the Model 3 garnered in less than 15 days of its unveiling, it likely won't need to compete directly with the Bolt's features. Tesla's Model 3 clearly struck a chord with buyers looking to buy a more affordable EV.

Then, of course, there's the question of whether competition in the long-range EV space is really a bad thing for Tesla in the first place. Tesla needs a hand educating consumers about EVs and mitigating skepticism toward the new technology. General Motors' Bolt -- and the vehicle's massive add campaign surely to come along with it -- could very well do more good than harm for Tesla's prospects as the company grows.

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Daniel Sparks owns shares of Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool recommends General Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.