GM and Tesla are going toe-to-toe for early control of the electric car market.

When General Motors first announced the Chevrolet Bolt in January 2015, it was seen as a bold attempt by one of North America's biggest automakers to beat Elon Musk and Tesla to getting an affordable all-electric car to the masses. Now, with both the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 officially announced, the race is on to be the first one to get an affordable, 200-mile range electric car to the average consumer.

GM has set a goal to have the 2017 Chevy Bolt available to consumers by late 2016, which would beat Tesla to the punch by a whole year. That means those who haven't already committed to preordering a Model 3 have quite the decision to make — go with the Bolt or wait for the Model 3.

Based on what we know about each car, which one should you get? Let's break it down!


Price is typically the biggest factor one considers when deciding whether or not to buy a brand new car. While both the Model 3 and Chevy Bolt are touted as being the most affordable all-electric cars to hit the market with acceptable range, it's still a major investment for the average consumer to make in what is still an emerging technology.

Tesla Model 3

The Model 3 will start at $35,000, before incentives and options, making it the most affordable Tesla to date. Reservations are still being accepted at $1,000 up front if you're interested in being the first Tesla owner on your block. Nearly 400,000 reservations have been placed so far, with the expectation that all of those will be delivered to customers by the end of 2018.

Chevrolet Bolt EV

GM has announced a base price of $37,500 for the Chevy Bolt, which they say could make the price as low as $30,000 depending on tax rebates available in your area. So, on paper, the Bolt will be $2,500 more expensive than the Model 3, but just think of the gas you'll be saving while everyone else is waiting that extra year for the Model 3.


One of the biggest concerns for people considering an electric car is whether the battery life will sustain a full day's worth of driving. The magic number has been set at 200 miles by experts, which accommodates the average commute with plenty of juice remaining for any errands or activities you have planned in the evening.

Tesla Model 3

Charging a Tesla

The Model 3 is projected to get 215 miles of range on a full charge, which takes around 7 hours to replenish when plugged into a 240V outlet. That's more than enough for the average driver, especially if you've got a short commute to work. With the Model 3, depending on your usage, you might not have to charge your battery for days. And Tesla has been clear that this is the minimum range for the Model 3 — like the more expensive Model S sedan, the Model 3 will be available with more capacious battery packs for even more range.

Chevrolet Bolt EV

Based on GM testing, the Bolt is estimated to offer more than 200 miles of range after a full charge, and will take roughly 9 hours for when plugged into a 240V outlet. So, while the battery might not charge as fast as the Model 3, the range should match at least Tesla's base offering.


So, if the Model 3 and Bolt are similarly priced and have nearly identical ranges on a fully-charged battery, your decision of which to buy might come down to which car has the most practical features that fit your lifestyle.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla has thrown any preconceived notions about electric cars lacking power away, with the Model 3 reportedly being able to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in roughly six seconds — with the option for an insanely quick Ludicrous Mode upgrade also on the table. It probably won't match the much more expensive Model S in acceleration, but it'll be more than fast enough.

Optional features will include dual motor all-wheel drive, a longer-range battery pack, Autopilot, active air suspension, a tow hitch, and various performance options. And that Autopilot is expected to be a step above the current "super cruise" style Autopilot that Tesla currently offers — it's been hinted that we should expect full self-driving autonomy as an option on the Model 3.

You'll also get to use Tesla's growing network of Supercharger stations, which can fully charge your battery in 75 minutes! Not too shabby if you're attempting a long-distance road trip, as you're probably gonna need to make a few pit stops along the way as it is. And you'll be able to control every aspect of your car via a 15-inch LCD center console display.

Chevy Bolt interiorTesla Model 3 interior

Chevrolet Bolt EV

While not quite as fast as the Model 3, the Bolt can reportedly go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just under seven seconds. That's nothing to sneeze at, though, since GM has not released any information about sportier speed modes like Tesla offers.

There're some smart features included such as a Rear Camera Mirror that streams an unobstructed view of everything behind you right to the rearview mirror we're all used to. It also includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as a paired 10.2 inch center console display and 8-inch driver dashboard display.

And while not really a feature, there is one other advantage the Bolt will have over the Model 3: wide-spread availability at any one of GM's 3000 dealerships. Tesla has chosen to sell their cars directly to the consumer through online sales and their own Stores, which while allowing them to control the experience also means there are plenty of places in the U.S. where you can't buy one easily, if at all. If you really want a Model 3, going one state over or online isn't going to deter you, but if the convenience and ability to drive it right off the lot is important to you, that's a big feature to consider. Then again… car dealerships aren't exactly known for their positive experiences.


So, it's reasonably priced, can be driven over 200 miles on a single charge, and has a bunch of futuristic features. But, does it look sexy or — thinking more practically — is it smartly designed for every day use?

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

There's no denying the Model 3 is downright gorgeous. Tesla has consistently designed cars that look great and drive even better, and it looks like they hit another one out of the park with the Model 3. Those slick lines aren't just making no attempt to hide that this is an EV — they're also very purposefully aerodynamic

It can comfortably seat five adults, so it's got functionality to go along with that "cool" factor. The interior is available with leather and vegan-friendly options, and if you've ever had the pleasure of sitting in a Tesla before, you can bet the same attention to detail will be included in the Model 3.

Chevrolet Bolt EV

Chevy Bolt EV

Like the Model 3, Chevy designed the Bolt to be as aerodynamic as possible — less drag means less power is needed to push it through the air, which means the battery pack can be smaller and cheaper.

With its hatchback crossover design, one of the biggest design features of the Chevy Bolt is going to be it's versatility. It can comfortably seat five adults with 16.9 cubic feet of cargo space or fold down those back seats and get all that space for your cargo.

The bottom line

This might be a tough decision for some consumers to make. Chevy is a pretty reliable brand name, and the fact that you'll be able to stop into a Chevy dealership to take it for a test drive before having to put any money down is going to be a major perk for some, and a major deterrent for others.

But, in almost every instance, the Tesla Model 3 outclasses the Bolt while coming in at a lower base cost. So, in the end, while GM might beat Tesla to market, you're probably safe in joining the nearly 400,000 people who have already committed to buying the Tesla Model 3.