Skip to Content

General Motors Is Doing Its Best to Out-Tesla Tesla

After unveiling its “Tesla fighter” last week, the company has now made a bold promise focused on using more renewable energy. Sound familiar?
September 16, 2016

General Motors seems to have Tesla’s number. First it fired a shot across the electric-car maker’s bow by announcing that the Chevrolet Bolt will pack enough electrons to give it a 238-mile range when it goes on sale later this year—far ahead of Tesla’s comparably priced Model 3, which CEO Elon Musk said would go about 215 miles on a charge.

If GM wounded Musk or Tesla with the reveal, today it rubbed in just a little bit of salt when it promised to use renewable energy to power 100 percent of its operations by 2050. It’s a bold claim for a company that has a huge, energy-hungry manufacturing footprint.

Hey, wait—isn’t Tesla usually the one making brash claims about being the clean-energy company of the future? Suggesting that it’s not happy to stop at cars, and wants to create grid-scale batteries and buy a big solar power firm to boot?

Elon Musk seems to be doing just fine, thanks very much.

But if GM is tempted to take its Bolt for a victory cruise from Tesla’s unproven Model 3 plant in Fremont, California, to its under-construction gigafactory in Nevada, it should probably hold off (and not just because the journey is around 260 miles).

As Bloomberg points out, this is a race that’s really just getting started, for at least one obvious reason: the Bolt is basically a utilitarian hatchback that costs $37,500 before rebates. The Model 3 is meant to go for $35,000 and borrows its styling from its much more expensive (and gorgeous) Model S.

So while Tesla faces the serious question of whether it can build the 400,000 Model 3s for which it already has orders in anything like a reasonable time frame, GM faces nearly the opposite issue: who’s gonna want a Bolt? There’s been a preponderance of mostly positive coverage in the past week about GM beating Tesla to the punch with a long-range electric car that can at least plausibly be called “affordable.” But will people buy them?

GM may be enjoying giving Tesla a couple of pokes over the last few days. But the fact that GM is coming out with the Bolt—and other big automakers like Volkswagen and BMW are working hard on electrics—validates Musk’s initial vision of transforming how automobiles are powered. He may not be first to market with an electric car for the masses (and let’s be honest, who knows what’s going on with the whole SolarCity deal). But that doesn’t necessarily mean Tesla is losing.

(Read more: New York Times, Bloomberg, “The Chevrolet Bolt Has Totally Trumped Tesla’s Model 3,” “Tesla-SolarCity Success Depends on Battery Technology That Doesn’t Yet Exist”)

Keep Reading

Most Popular

light and shadow on floor
light and shadow on floor

How Facebook and Google fund global misinformation

The tech giants are paying millions of dollars to the operators of clickbait pages, bankrolling the deterioration of information ecosystems around the world.

This new startup has built a record-breaking 256-qubit quantum computer

QuEra Computing, launched by physicists at Harvard and MIT, is trying a different quantum approach to tackle impossibly hard computational tasks.

wet market selling fish
wet market selling fish

This scientist now believes covid started in Wuhan’s wet market. Here’s why.

How a veteran virologist found fresh evidence to back up the theory that covid jumped from animals to humans in a notorious Chinese market—rather than emerged from a lab leak.

protein structures
protein structures

DeepMind says it will release the structure of every protein known to science

The company has already used its protein-folding AI, AlphaFold, to generate structures for the human proteome, as well as yeast, fruit flies, mice, and more.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.