The race to the 200-mile-range EV—and the unexpected winner

The race for the an affordable 200-mile-range EV (Electric Vehicle) has been the bane of the automotive industry for the better part of a two decades. But, alas, we now have a clear first winner — and it’s not who you might think.

In the past few years, we’ve witnessed, firsthand, the adoption of EVs into the mass market place. Initially, it was the Nissan Leaf — the under $40,000 trailblazing zero-emissions vehicle with the capability of driving 80-plus-miles on a single charge — that stood as the new poster-child for environmentally conscious commuting. (Sorry, Prius.)

As sales figures soared, other big-name car manufactures began jumping on combustion-less bandwagon; Mitsubishi's i-MiEV was a odious looking cookie-cutter iteration of their mother company’s plug-in compact. Then, of course, Tesla Motors entered into the picture later that same year—and, truly, redefined the notion of fossil fuel free commuting.

What were once believed to be merely science projects, capable only of urban grocery runs and work commutes, Tesla proved the same technological blueprint could birth a vehicle able to embark on cross-country road tips—courtesy of 250-plus-mile ranges and accessible, high-amperage charging stations.

But there’s just one five-, six-figure sized problem: their price tags.

(And, to make matters worse, Tesla's business model is designed around a break-even format, with the company spending nearly $2 billion of its $2.6 billion total sales revenue each quarter.)

Tesla’s currently available fleet doesn’t have a single vehicle stickered below $65,000 US dollars. To say their plug-in sedans and SUVs are affordable would be an act of blinding privilege. So, naturally, it was a monetary gap the company’s hoping to fill with their Model 3 — a $35,000 EV car skewed toward the average consumer’s income bracket and travel needs.

A crucial milestone of Elon Musk’s Master Plan was set to come to fruition: to be the first automotive company to sell an affordable long-range EV to the progressive masses. Then...silence; Tesla’s future flagship vehicles will be delayed, even more than initially thought.

For months, the idea of a 200-mile-range EV making it’s way into the public sector appeared to be another few years down the road. That is, however, until GM introduced their Chevy Bolt earlier this year, seemingly out of the blue.

(Valued at roughly the same market value as Tesla, GM is, however, completely polar opposite in one regard—revenue spending. Just this last quarter alone, GM’s total profits were nearly the same as Tesla’s total revenue spending.)

With an advertised (and proven) range extending over 240-miles, Chevy didn’t just beat Tesla to the proverbial punch—they, actually, managed to surpass them in electrical efficiency. By roughly 30-miles of added range, GM catapulted itself over Tesla’s Model 3 range of 210-miles, toting the same wattage battery pack. (It should also be said that Tesla tends to quite generous with their range estimations, to put it mildly.)

Who would’ve thought GM — the automaker who builds powerstroke cummins diesels — would also be the same car manufacture to give us the first affordable 200-mile-range EV?

Not Tesla, that’s for sure.

(Feature image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

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