Rating a Tesla Model 3 vs. Chevy Bolt

Cross-posted from Clean Technica, November 29th, 2016,   

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Many people are writing opinion pieces about the Chevy Bolt now that the Bolt is available for test drives. There have been several pieces in CleanTechnica, of course, with the most recent tackling its look.

The Bolt is doing well, too, with people favourably impressed with the Bolt’s handling, range, and interior space. However, they are still comparing the two cars based on a simplistic set of stats which don’t list all of the innovations and hence differentiation that comes with Teslas.

So, let’s go through a bigger list and put together a weighted evaluation matrix. For those who can’t wait, the radar chart above tells the strong story quickly.

For those interested in the details, let’s look at each of the differentiating factors. The eye chart below does expand if you click on it.

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The Bolt isn’t that exciting, but let’s quantify this with a weighted evaluation matrix against these factors. The table below ranks each element from 1 (low) to 5 (high) for the point of differentiation, and then takes a stab at defining how much an average purchaser of each vehicle will consider that factor.

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When you go through all of the advantages the Model 3 has over the Bolt, this weighted assessment suggests it’s almost twice as desirable. However, this is an aggregate assumption of consumer weightings, not a behavioural economics study, and individual consumers will vary substantially.

I’m very pleased that the Bolt is being produced. The reviews indicate that Chevy actually built a competent car — it already won a major automotive award, 2017 Motor Trend Car of the Year. But it’s not a Tesla Model 3, which will exceed “competent” by a long shot and is competing in a different category that has a much higher price point.

I’m also completely unsurprised that Chevy is hauling it back to compliance car status instead of the “every US state” car it was intending. And of course, that’s “US state,” not multiple countries. The Model 3 will be available in most developed countries in the world in 2018. Availability will play a factor too.