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General Motors Company Delivers on Its Promise, Prices Electric Bolt at $37,495

By Daniel Sparks – Sep 20, 2016 at 4:54PM

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Compelling range and price for its new Chevrolet Bolt give the Detroit automaker a strong start in fully electric vehicles.

General Motors (GM 0.94%) is living up to its promises with the first affordable long-range fully electric vehicle, outperforming expectations on range and delivering on its target price point. These moves are positioning GM as a strong contender in the nascent electric-vehicle space just ahead of EV maker Tesla Motors' (TSLA -0.03%) Model 3 launch next year.

Chevrolet Bolt. Image source: Chevrolet.

Compelling and affordable

On Tuesday, General Motors announced it is sticking to its $37,500 price tag (well, minus $5) it had initially announced for the vehicle. But the pricing notably includes a "destination charge."

"Value is a hallmark for Chevrolet and the pricing of the Bolt EV proves we're serious about delivering the first affordable EV with plenty of range for our customers," said GM North America president Alan Batey in a Sept. 20 press release. "We have kept our promise yet again, first on range and now on price."

But the Bolt will only be available at "select dealerships" by the company's promised deadline of late 2016, the automaker said, suggesting production is limited.

This positions the company's new electric car as a compelling alternative to lower-cost internal combustion engine vehicles, and a noteworthy alternative to Tesla's late-2017-slated Model 3.

Importantly, this follows the automaker's announcement last week that the Bolt would boast an impressive 238 miles of range on a single charge, higher than the minimum range Tesla promises for its Model 3.

Putting together an unprecedented price for a long-range electric vehicle and a $7,500 federal tax credit for qualifying buyers, the Bolt puts the spotlight on GM's meaningful start in the fast-growing space.

Highlighting the value in the fully electric Bolt, GM's plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt has a starting price of about $33,000 and has an electric range of just 53 miles. And the Volt's internal-combustion range extender enables an extra 367 miles. For a fully electric comparison, Nissan's Leaf has an electric range of 107 miles and a starting price of about $22,000.

The inevitable Model 3 comparison

Model 3 prototype. Image source: Tesla Motors.

The likely reality for General Motors, of course, is that Tesla's Model 3 will be tough to compete with. While Tesla has only promised a minimum of 215 miles of base range for the Model 3, it also promises faster acceleration, comfortable seating for five adults, and a front trunk in addition to the rear trunk. And based on the 373,000 deposit-backed reservations Tesla garnered for the Model 3 within 15 days of its unveiling, the vehicle's styling is a home run.

But the Bolt may not be GM's attempt to compete with Tesla. Analysts who are reportedly familiar with the automaker's production plans say GM initially expects the vehicle to be a "low-volume niche model with production fewer than 30,000 cars per year," according to Reuters. Investors in both GM and Tesla should keep in mind that the Bolt is just GM's first move; future electric cars from the company will undoubtedly be even more compelling.

Meanwhile, GM's ability to follow through on both range and price for the Bolt demonstrates a commitment to take the electric-car segment seriously.

Daniel Sparks owns shares of Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool recommends General Motors. 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.

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