The electric vehicle market has been polarized since its inception as a commercially viable product, with two distinct categories emerging: Those that are Tesla, and those that aren't.
And for good reason, as Tesla has been creating electric vehicles with increasingly staggering battery-mileage (265 miles on one charge!), sleek aesthetics, and cutting edge tech. Granted, their flagship Tesla Model S costs about $100,000, which basically isolates it from the average consumer, and no matter how incredible your product is, if no one can afford it, no one will be afforded its luxuries. On the other hand, we have EV's like the Fiat 500e or Nissan Leaf, which costs about $30,000 - a much more reasonable price point - but where they exceed in making themselves available to the average consumer, they fall short in the range department, advertising a dismal 70 mile-per-charge range. As the gap between luxury EV's and economy EV's continues to widen, 2 companies (hint: one is Tesla) are vying to control the middle ground, and produce an electric vehicle that caters to the average American on all levels: reasonably priced, extended battery-range, and modest in-car luxuries.
Announced earlier this year by Tesla chief, Elon Musk, the Tesla Model 3 - to be released within the next few years - aims to fill the EV middle ground, promising a 200 mile range with a price tag under $40k.
The second company may surprise you, as they aren't traditionally known for being on the forefront of technological innovation, and are a relative new-comer when it comes to the EV playing field.
Chevrolet - yes, Chevy.
Earlier this week, premiered at the Detroit Auto Show was Chevy's answer to the Tesla Model 3, the Chevrolet Bolt. GM boss, Mary Barra promised the Bolt would deliver a 200+ mile range, while keeping the base price south of $40k. Though an official release date is still in the works, inside sources say that GM is looking at 2017 - the same time that the Tesla Model 3 is purported to make its debut.
As the venerable Omar once said, "you come at the king, you best not miss,"and it looks like Chevy is gearing up to make a serious run at the EV crown currently worn by Tesla.
But matching Tesla's EV prowess is no easy feat, and in an effort to remain competitive, the Chevy Bolt is loaded with weight-saving materials to help increase range, including aluminum, carbon fiber, woven mesh, and magnesium. When combined with the upgraded battery tech developed in-house, GM believes that the Bolt could easily provide the balance of cutting edge EV tech and affordability that we have all been waiting for.
The day is yet to come where electric vehicles are widely accessible to the general public, mostly due to the expensive developmental costs of creating better, longer-lasting batteries. As the future of fossil fuel dependency becomes increasingly bleak, EV tech will begin to outgrow its niche and become the primary mode of personal transport used throughout the industrialized world. Chevy's desire to remain competitive through entrance into the EV race is indicative of a much larger picture: The auto industry's awareness of the negative environmental impact caused by burning fossil fuels and their subsequent shift away from traditional capitalist ideology where huge profits take precedent, towards more measured long term goals where profits and sustainability are closely aligned in priority.
We may not be sold on electric vehicles just yet, but if a company as large as Chevrolet (or even its parent, GM) are saddling up in the EV market, it's safe to assume that EV's will soon become ubiquitous. Whether you swear allegiance to the beautiful and exotic stylings of Tesla's lineup, or are eager to see an EV playing field rich with choice, know this is just the beginning, and what we see now, is only a small fraction of what we will see down the road, and not only from Tesla and Chevy, but from the auto industry as a whole.