The 238 mile range Chevy Bolt is not a threat to Tesla Motors, Tesla is a threat to itself

The race is on to deliver an affordable long-range electric car, with 200+ miles range and $35,000 MSRP as the next target.  Several car makers are working on this, promising to deliver such vehicles in the next couple years.  The rush to declare this vehicle or that a Tesla Killer has led some in the press to describe GM’s Chevy Bolt as a clear Tesla Killer, because the Bolt’s 238 mile EPA range is a little higher than what Tesla Motors suggested the Model 3 would have.

Is that the only measure of likely victory?  What about charging networks?  What if, once the car gets above 200 miles range that a few miles here or there doesn’t matter as much as it does when the car has 100 miles range?

The primary feature of the Tesla Model S and Model X and the forthcoming Model 3 is the Supercharger network, and that in general Tesla designed in ultra-fast charging support from the get-go.  Yes the Model S and Model X are very well built cars with tons of cool features, but I believe it’s the Supercharger charging network that makes the difference.

Because of the Supercharger network, Tesla Model S/X owners are able to take cross-country trips with ease.  Try that with a car from any other manufacturer and you’ll find that the CHAdeMO and CCS fast charging infrastructure is woefully inadequate to inter-city trips much less cross-country trips.  The exception to this is the USA East Coast and parts of Europe where there is sufficient DC Fast Charging that it’s easy to hop between cities on CHAdeMO or CCS.  Stray outside those areas and you’re struggling.

To think that success is rooted solely in long range is simply incorrect.  A long driving range is useless unless there’s sufficient DC Fast Charging between cities.

Why do I say this?  Most driving is within a short range of home, so surely inter-city fast charging is not needed?  There’s a point to that statement that’s more-or-less true.  However, the existence of inter-city gasoline stations demonstrates the need for long distance travel even though most driving is within a short range of home.  The people who are about to buy 200+ mile range EV’s will include many newcomers to the EV field.  They will arrive with expectations of taking longer trips, I think.  Why?  One clue is that they passed up buying shorter-range EV’s.

Why does the title say “Tesla is a threat to itself”?  Tesla’s ambitions are huge, and they’re moving at an impossibly fast break-neck pace.  One wonders how long the company will be able to keep up, and when will it (the whole company) collapse from exhaustion.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.
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About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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