General Motors (IW 500/5) doubled down on its position in the electric car market Monday, unveiling a new 200-mile Chevrolet Bolt to challenge Tesla, and a snazzy updated Volt.
The Bolt, still in concept form but reportedly not far from heading into serious development, is a hatchback-looking "small crossover" that lowers the price of entry to a full-range electric to $30,000.
GM chief executive Mary Barra, unveiling the long-held secret at the Detroit auto show, called the Bolt "a real game-changer" in the electric vehicle market.
"This is truly an EV for everyone," she said, implicitly contrasting the Bolt with Tesla's best-selling 265 mile -range Model S, a luxury electric with a base price of $70,000.
The Bolt, much smaller than the Model S, would clearly focus on a different market, but it registers a challenge to Tesla's hopes of coming up with a cheaper all-electric, as well as to BMW's i3 electric, with its 80 mile range.
At the same time, Barra introduced an all-new model of the Chevy Volt, GM's four-year-old plug-in hybrid that, while remaining the best-selling U.S. electric, has still not captured a mass audience.
The new Volt boosts the range on the electric engine alone to 50 miles from the previous 38, and, with both electric and gas engines engaged, has a much faster acceleration than before.
"Owners wanted to see a greater range on the new model, and we have delivered," said Barra.
Both new Chevrolet electrics though face a potent challenge: the plunge in gasoline prices that has made energy-saving cars less attractive, with American consumers content to buy less efficient SUVs and trucks.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015