August was an important month for General Motors' (NYSE:GM) all-electric Bolt. It marked the first month the vehicle was available nationwide. On the back of this rollout, Bolt deliveries climbed to a record high in August.
The Bolt's four-month streak of record deliveries not only highlights a growing appetite from consumers for long-range, fully electric vehicles, but it shows the vehicle's resilience as electric-car maker Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) ramps up deliveries of its recently launched Model 3.
During August, GM delivered a total of 2,107 Bolt EV units, up 7% from the 1,971 units GM shipped in July.
As GM remarked in its July vehicle sales press release, August was the first month the Bolt was available nationwide. Before August, the Bolt was available in about 20 of the country's most populous states.
For the most part, Bolt deliveries have steadily climbed since the vehicle was launched late last year.
The Bolt sports an impressive all-electric driving range of 238 miles, more than the base version of Tesla's Model 3, which can drive 220 miles on a single charge.
How high can deliveries climb?
The Bolt's trend of steadily climbing deliveries is notable. GM management was initially targeting annual production of about 25,000 to 30,000 Bolts in 2017, according to Reuters. And if Bolt sales continue to increase in the remaining four months of the year, the company may very well have reason to produce around 25,000 units this year.
But investors shouldn't get excited about the Bolt's sales potential yet. It's worth noting that monthly Bolt sales growth decelerated in August, despite the nationwide rollout. In July, Bolt deliveries jumped 20% compared to June's deliveries. August deliveries went up just 7%. If this trend of decelerating growth continues as the year goes on, GM's Bolt sales could come in below 22,000 units in 2017.
Looking ahead, it will also be interesting to see how well the Bolt holds up against Tesla's similarly priced Model 3. Though the Model 3 has officially launched, customers who want an affordably priced long-range EV today will still have to choose the Bolt over the Model 3. With hundreds of thousands of reservations for its July 28-launched Model 3, customers who put in a reservation for the new vehicle will have to wait 12 to 18 months before they take delivery, according to Tesla's website.
Initial Model 3 production is paltry, with Tesla only expecting to produce just over 1,500 Model 3 units during the third quarter. But it anticipates Model 3 production ramping up quickly. The company is aggressively targeting a weekly production run rate of 5,000 Model 3s per week before the end of the year and 10,000 units per week at some point next year.
As the wait time for new Model 3 customers narrows, demand for GM's Bolt could be limited. On the other hand, maybe consumer interest in long-range EVs is growing fast enough that both companies will see healthy growth in their EV deliveries.