We’ve gone on and on about how the Tesla Model S is the biggest competitor to BMW’s i Division cars and that cars like the BMW i3 don’t have anywhere near the range capacity. The truth is, the i3 and Model S aren’t ever going to be cross shopped because they’re in vastly different price ranges and are drastically different cars. So the Model S isn’t too much of a threat to the i3, being that you can buy two BMW i3’s for the price of one higher-end Model S. However, there is a newcomer that might pose more of a threat to the BMW i3 than anything else on the market — the Chevrolet Bolt.
Chevy first showed us its Bolt concept at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show and promised quite a bit with it. Just looking at the Bolt, it’s hard not to see the similarities between the BMW i3. They’re both around the same size, both are hatchbacks and both have a sort of floating C-Pillar. However, that’s where the similarities stop and where the Chevy actually starts to seem like the better car, on paper at least.
Chevy is claiming the Bolt to start life at around $30,000 after incetives, undercutting the BMW i3 by a couple of grand, depending on where it actually does end up starting. Chevy is also claiming that the Bolt will have around a 200 mile range, crushing the BMW i3’s measly 80 miles in BEV form and getting into Tesla Model S P85D territory. That would be a swift kick in the gut to BMW, Tesla, the Audi A3 e-tron and the Nissan Leaf. Those specs would leave the entire automotive industry in the dust.
Now, admittedly, these are just claims and, even if the claims are true, just numbers. We have no way of knowing how the Bolt will drive, how it will be on the inside, if it can get that sort of range if driven like a real human and not hypermiling or how fast it will be. It might be able to get 200 miles on a single charge because it’s as slow as a turtle wearing a backpack full of cinder blocks. It could also handle like it’s made from wet cardboard, as it will be built on the Chevy Sonic platform. We won’t know anything for sure until Chevy can put rubber to road and show us what it can do (it could debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in January or the 2016 Detroit Auto Show). However, it’s spec sheet does look mighty promising.
If Chevy can deliver on its promises of both price, range and performance, the Bolt could be most all-around EV on the market, as it would have Tesla-rivaling range at Nissan Leaf-rivaling pricing. If it’s halfway decent to drive and decently luxurious on the inside, the Bolt would be hard to pass up for anyone looking for an EV, as it would have a range that crushes the BMW i3’s at a lower price. It’s weird saying this about Chevy, but if the Bolt turns out as good as advertised, the Detroit giant could leave BMW and Tesla for dead.