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What's better for business? Building a car that nobody is buying? Or slowly building something everyone and their mom wants? Every step Tesla has taken in terms of cars, rockets, batteries, energy generation, has been met with people saying "it can't be done", but they consistently and eventually prove everyone wrong.

In sept - GM only sold 4085 Volts and Bolts combined. And the current trends aren't expected to magically skyrocket anytime soon. At that rate it would take a little over 8 years of current sales to reach the level of people waiting to buy the Model 3 today. (last estimate after cancellations was around 455k, lets just say 400k assuming another 10% back out.

I like my Gen2 volt, but it's a stepping stone. After my experience GM, and the way the chose to do business (actively screwing over someone who just gave them almost 40K) I'm looking forward to 2019 once production and preorders are mostly satisfied and I can start shopping for a Model 3.

GM has had (and will have) lots of opportunities to kick their EV game into high gear, but they drop the ball pretty regularly. Pretty hard to take a company seriously that won't even invest in any sort of high speed charging facilities for their EV line.

This "us vs them" thinking is pretty stupid anyways, the goal worldwide is to get EV's into people's driveways. I'd have a lot more respect for GM if their actions lined up with their words. Or the fact they are still run by a bunch of old school dinosaurs who would really rather you purchase a big truck.
 

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I'd love to see GM kick things into O/D but they can only sell what folks are willing to buy. My dealer has had 10 Bolt's on his lot for over a month now all marked down by $3500 and they still have the same 10 cars just sitting there. Yet Tesla has over 400K reservation holders and they claim that's increasing by 1800 a month.

Gotta give Tesla credit. Their problem is matching demand to production, what a great problem to have.
 

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Yes Tesla has ~500k that said, I like the idea enough to put $1k aside to hold a place in line, but of the cars they can actually make they sell about the same as the Bolt or the Volt or the leaf. The TM3 has a big potential demand, but still less than Chevy or Ford sells in 1/2 ton trucks every year. Other than being able to buy a "Tesla" for $35k I don't see amazing demand for EV's. Time will tell if there is more demand for the TM3 than the first pipe fill.
To get mass adoption car manufacturers will have to build ev's that fit people's needs at a comparable price. I think we are still a ways away from that point. To build a SUV or truck as an EV and have reasonable range right now you need a huge battery. Nothing is going to change the physics of that problem. Heavy, aero draggy cars need a lot of energy to move. Since electric motors are already 90+% efficient there is very little to gain in the power train. Aero is one place to gain, but then when it turns cold or you have inclement weather the range drops a lot since the aero gains were used to put in a smaller battery.
From my own experience, you have to be committed to using an ev even with what is out now. Due to weather I am down to mid 160's for a hill top reserve charge on my Bolt, during the summer that was over 200. Still Plenty for my daily commute which is 50-100 miles, but not enough to go to other cities and back without charging. Still not a viable replacement for a one car family. For example, To get back from Denver which is ~ 60 miles I need a half charged battery when it's in the 40's, it's uphill and fast speeds. Not sure what it's going to be like in the 20's or even 0's. Probably just take another vehicle as its too much work to use the Bolt.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
GM would certainly prefer you buy a truck. They make more money that way.

And regardless of sales and even product desirability, GM can crank out cars like hardly anyone else. But no question they take a more conservative approach to product development. But given the Bolt and Volt, I wouldn't be surprised if GM offers a real Tesla killer before long.

The problem in the article is not just production volume, but also likely price. If the price of a model 3 gets close to an S, they will sell a lot less than the 400K reserved.
 

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What's better for business? Building a car that nobody is buying? Or slowly building something everyone and their mom wants? Every step Tesla has taken in terms of cars, rockets, batteries, energy generation, has been met with people saying "it can't be done", but they consistently and eventually prove everyone wrong.

In sept - GM only sold 4085 Volts and Bolts combined. And the current trends aren't expected to magically skyrocket anytime soon. At that rate it would take a little over 8 years of current sales to reach the level of people waiting to buy the Model 3 today. (last estimate after cancellations was around 455k, lets just say 400k assuming another 10% back out.

I like my Gen2 volt, but it's a stepping stone. After my experience GM, and the way the chose to do business (actively screwing over someone who just gave them almost 40K) I'm looking forward to 2019 once production and preorders are mostly satisfied and I can start shopping for a Model 3.

GM has had (and will have) lots of opportunities to kick their EV game into high gear, but they drop the ball pretty regularly. Pretty hard to take a company seriously that won't even invest in any sort of high speed charging facilities for their EV line.

This "us vs them" thinking is pretty stupid anyways, the goal worldwide is to get EV's into people's driveways. I'd have a lot more respect for GM if their actions lined up with their words. Or the fact they are still run by a bunch of old school dinosaurs who would really rather you purchase a big truck.
Let's look at today, and let's look at 2008.

2008 GM decides to reenter the EV market. They have a choice between making an expensive 80 mile range EV, a Prius/Insight clone, or something else electric. The original 80 mile EV1 effort had GM install about 1,000 charging locations. The car was not a hit. When sales were stopped, there was inventory on lots, even though the area was very limited. It made Time Magazine's "50 Worst Cars Of All Time" list. Only 42 lessees wanted to keep their cars out of 1000. Many were returned early, which was allowed.

GM engineers thought about it. Try the same thing again? Or get creative. They went with Plan B, and engineered a freakin' masterpiece. The 2011 Volt was one of the most sophisticated cars ever built at the time, if not the Most. While it would have good EV performance which covers most of it's operational miles, it will also have a smaller gasoline generator to avoid range anxiety, and blended the two together far better than any hybrid at any cost.

Tesla decided that an expensive 2 seater with more range was the answer. The idea of a network of Superchargers was not realistic for such a small run.

When the costs of batteries started to come down, Tesla built a 4 door with even more range. GM built a very cheap, but top rated 80 mile EV. To cover a nation every 50 miles with a charger was madness for a $25k car. Tesla, with their higher prices and longer range, would need only 1/4 (two dimensional, 100 miles = 4x) the chargers.

But still the Volt was selling and logging perhaps as many, if not more, EV miles than any other EV. And they were collecting OnStar telemetry. GM knew more about how Americans drive both ICE and EV cars than any other automaker in the world.

The data told them a bump in range would help, so they did it.

Now GM has a 238 mile pure EV sitting beside the Volt. Where did they get the 238 mile number from? Telemetry analysis. And they still sell the Volt.

Tesla has continued to increase their charging grid, BUT also increase their EV range. Why? Their telemetry, even with a national grid says more range is still needed. And as of October 2017, I do not believe I could drive Tesla straight from SoCal to Florida via I-10. Tucson to El Paso is over 300 miles. And any trip that has a spread of over 200 miles means a lengthy charge. There is not national coverage, and it still makes long distance travel more clumsy than ICE or EREV does.

So after all of that, the Volt remains the right solution for an EV that must travel anywhere and everywhere in a timely fashion, and the Bolt has enough range to satisfy nearly all commuters, fully loaded, in all weather conditions. Very few people drive more than 75 miles to work. Only 8% of people drive more than 35 miles to work. IIRC, it's like 1 percent drive twice that far.

I'll admit that I'd rather not stop for an hour just to drive 250 miles, which is about the furthest I drive. While Tesla advertises 335 miles of range, few people can make it from LA to Las Vegas in a Tesla without recharging at least once. A Volt will beat any Tesla in a LA to Vegas run.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Let's look at today, and let's look at 2008.

2008 GM decides to reenter the EV market. They have a choice between making an expensive 80 mile range EV, a Prius/Insight clone, or something else electric. The original 80 mile EV1 effort had GM install about 1,000 charging locations. The car was not a hit. When sales were stopped, there was inventory on lots, even though the area was very limited. It made Time Magazine's "50 Worst Cars Of All Time" list. Only 42 lessees wanted to keep their cars out of 1000. Many were returned early, which was allowed.

GM engineers thought about it. Try the same thing again? Or get creative. They went with Plan B, and engineered a freakin' masterpiece. The 2011 Volt was one of the most sophisticated cars ever built at the time, if not the Most. While would have good EV performance which covers most of it's operation, it will also have a smaller gasoline generator to avoid range anxiety, and blended the two together far better than any hybrid at any cost.

Tesla decided that an expensive 2 seater with more range was the answer. The idea of a network of Superchargers was not realistic for such a small run.

When the costs of batteries started to come down, Tesla built a 4 door with even more range. GM built a very cheap, but top rated 80 mile EV. To cover a nation every 50 miles with a charger was madness for a $25k car. Tesla, with their higher prices and longer range, would need only 1/4 (two dimensional, 100 miles = 4x) the chargers.

But still the Volt was selling and logging perhaps as many, if not more, EV miles than any other EV. And they were collecting OnStar telemetry. GM knew more about how Americans drive both ICE and EV cars than any other automaker in the world.

The data told them a bump in range would help, so they did it.

Now GM has a 238 mile pure EV sitting beside the Volt. Where did they get the 238 mile number from? Telemetry analysis. And they still sell the Volt.

Tesla has continued to increase their charging grid, BUT also increase their EV range. Why? Their telemetry, even with a national grid says more range is still needed. And as of October 2017, I do not believe I could drive Tesla from SoCal to Florida. Tucson to El Paso is over 300 miles. And any trip that has a spread of over 200 miles means a lengthy charge. There is not national coverage, and it still makes long distance travel more clumsy than ICE or EREV does.

So after all of that, the Volt remains the right solution for an EV that must travel anywhere and everywhere in a timely fashion, and the Bolt has enough range to satisfy nearly all commuters, fully loaded, in all weather conditions. Very few people drive more than 75 miles to work. Only 8% of people drive more than 35 miles to work. IIRC, it's like 1 percent drive twice that far.

I'll admit that I'd rather not stop for an hour just to drive 250 miles, which is about the furthest I drive. While Tesla advertises 335 miles of range, few people can make it from LA to Las Vegas in a Tesla without recharging at least once. A Volt will beat any Tesla in a LA to Vegas run.
Great analysis. To add to it, the Tesla is aimed at a different demographic. People who can plunk down 100K for a car usually have more than one. So range anxiety is not really an issue, and making sales was easy. When GM went fully electric with the Bolt, they beat Tesla to the punch. In this case the punch is selling BEVs to middle class (rather than upper middle class) families that also may have 2 cars. This is ultimately a larger market than the Tesla model S demographic.
 

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I have a Volt and a Bolt for less than an S. And I now drive essentially gas free. If I wanted to, I could drive cross country without ever needing a supercharger (I have one on board).

Why don't I want a Model 3? I already have a sedan (the Volt). I don't like navigating a computer screen for controlling virtually everything in a car. So, I have both an electric sedan and an electric CUV in my garage. Now.

I think for some "Tesla" is like "BMW" : snob appeal. If it helps sell cars (and it does), more power to them. Snob appeal is one thing "Chevy" brand lacks. I'm ok with that. I'm still driving all electric and my Volt has been nearly flawless. Jury is out on the Bolt, but so far, so good. It's a great driver, though the shorter wheelbase makes it a bit bouncier.
 

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I'd love to see GM kick things into O/D but they can only sell what folks are willing to buy. My dealer has had 10 Bolt's on his lot for over a month now all marked down by $3500 and they still have the same 10 cars just sitting there. Yet Tesla has over 400K reservation holders and they claim that's increasing by 1800 a month.

Gotta give Tesla credit. Their problem is matching demand to production, what a great problem to have.
The 400,000 number (or ?) is not actually sales. GM learned this the hard way. They took the EV1 all around the country for consumer tests. 80% said they would interested in an EV1 after driving one. It didn't work out that way. They were discounted near the end even though the cost of making them climbed by installing NiMH batteries to replace the lead-acid. Big newspaper ads, I received a mail flier during the discount phase, lots of press.

We will see what happens when it's time for folk to cut a check. The top 2WD trim is $60,500 right now. In theory, the cheapest first orders for consumers will be $50k (35+9+5+1 = Car, Long Range, Upfitted, Destination, in black with base wheels).

I suspect the $36k variant will be delayed until they fill all the $50k+ orders.

Many folk saw it as being a cheaper and better EV and reserved based on that. Once the cheaper goes away, who knows?

I foresee the biggest effect of the initial Model 3 deliveries is to cut into 100D sales. If they release the $36k variant, it will hammer the 75D sales.
 

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I seem to be the only one... but if I was in the market for a full EV, I'd get the Bolt even if the Model 3 was available. I like the fact that I get Chevy support and dealers for service and don't have to wait 2 weeks in line to get my car serviced and another month for them to order some exotic part.

That said, I'm not in the market for a full EV. That's why I got the Volt. ALL of my local driving is done on battery and if I decide to take a trip up north (about 950 miles to my old home town), I can just pack up and go. No waiting around every 250 miles and twiddling my thumbs for an hour to get a full charge. Charging would add 3 hours to that trip (one way) so I'd rather have the option for gas for long trips.

Mike
 

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The data told them a bump in range would help, so they did it.
...
And as of October 2017, I do not believe I could drive Tesla straight from SoCal to Florida via I-10. Tucson to El Paso is over 300 miles. And any trip that has a spread of over 200 miles means a lengthy charge. There is not national coverage, and it still makes long distance travel more clumsy than ICE or EREV does.
I think you pretty much nailed it. A couple of quibbles. One is the reason for the 50+ mile range on the second generation Volt. The ZEV CARB regulations for credits changed, giving twice the number of credits for a vehicle that can go 50 miles. I think GM figured out that they could double the credits without a lot of extra cost. Because of the credit situation, before the second generation came out I was certain that it would have a range of at least 50 miles.

On the shortcomings of the Tesla network, an issue you didn't mention is the problems of going out and back rather than going in a straight line from A to B. For example, if you want to go to Organ Pipes you pretty much need to stay in Ajo. You can get there, but you can't then do your trips to Organ Pipes to/from Ajo and then get to a charger. Ditto for Big Sur or Portal Arizona.
 

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What's better for business? Building a car that nobody is buying? Or slowly building something everyone and their mom wants? Every step Tesla has taken in terms of cars, rockets, batteries, energy generation, has been met with people saying "it can't be done", but they consistently and eventually prove everyone wrong.

In sept - GM only sold 4085 Volts and Bolts combined. And the current trends aren't expected to magically skyrocket anytime soon. At that rate it would take a little over 8 years of current sales to reach the level of people waiting to buy the Model 3 today. (last estimate after cancellations was around 455k, lets just say 400k assuming another 10% back out.

I like my Gen2 volt, but it's a stepping stone. After my experience GM, and the way the chose to do business (actively screwing over someone who just gave them almost 40K) I'm looking forward to 2019 once production and preorders are mostly satisfied and I can start shopping for a Model 3.

GM has had (and will have) lots of opportunities to kick their EV game into high gear, but they drop the ball pretty regularly. Pretty hard to take a company seriously that won't even invest in any sort of high speed charging facilities for their EV line.

This "us vs them" thinking is pretty stupid anyways, the goal worldwide is to get EV's into people's driveways. I'd have a lot more respect for GM if their actions lined up with their words. Or the fact they are still run by a bunch of old school dinosaurs who would really rather you purchase a big truck.
In what way to you feel actively screwed? The performance of my 2017 Volt exceeds all expectations and the service at my Chevy dealer is vastly better then it was at my Chrysler dealer.

I too am waiting until 2019 or 2020 before I decide on my next car because at that time I expect that there will be a lot more choices. The other thing we will know in that time frame is what additional choices GM will have, I don't want a Bolt or any other CUV, if Tesla is still an independent company or a division of Apple, what cars the Germans have. As I see it the advantages and disadvantages of each brand are as follows,

GM: Advantages,
1) Extensive dealer network. There are multiple convenient Chevy dealers near me. I bought the Volt from a Chevy/Cadillac dealer and I've been very happy with them so I would be happy to buy a Chevy or Cadillac BEV from them assuming there is a car I want. There is a Buick dealer across the street from them so a Buick would also be on the table.
2) I've been very impressed with the Volt's engineering and the Bolt appears to be quite well done from and engineering standpoint but I hate that it's a hideous CUV, I only drive sedans.
Disadvantages,
1) It's still a Chevy so the handling is OK but it doesn't compare to a German car.
2) The Volt and Bolt are FWD only, Chevy doesn't do AWD except on giant SUVs which I would never ever buy. I was willing to sacrifice AWD on the Volt because it was the only way to get a practical EV in 2016. I won't be willing to sacrifice it 2020.

The Krauts, Audi, BMW and Mercedes
1) Audi and BMW have conveniently located dealers, I was impressed by the Audi dealership when I was car shopping last year, the BMW and Mercedes dealers were obnoxious so I probably will only consider an Audi.
2) I really liked the Audi A4 when I was shopping last year, it was the runner up to the Volt. The A4 lost because it wasn't an EV and after I drove the Volt it was clear to me that pure ICE cars are dead. However they are promising a bunch of EVs in that time frame.
Disadvantages:
1) Promises, promises. Until they actually ship something we won't know how serious they really are about EVs or if they really understand what an EV is. GM has clearly figured it out, the Volt and Bolt are designed as EVs and they take advantage of EV technology. An example of an EREV that isn't an EV is the new Range Rover which still has a massive transmission, that's an ICE car with electric assist not an EV. With the Germans we have no idea what they will offer because aside from the i3 and the eGolf, both of which have huge deficiencies as compared to the Volt, they don't sell EVs.

The Japanese.
I doubt they will have anything to consider in that time frame. They are being dragged kicking and screaming into BEVs. If the Honda Clarity is anything to go by they have no idea how to build an EV.

Tesla
Advantages
1) The 75KWh Model 3 has enough range to handle 95% of my long trips without recharging. I really want an 400 mile car but at 320 I can comfortably goto Portland, Newport or Brattleboro without a recharge.
2) Supercharger network. I've been following it's progress and they have finally filled in the holes that have prevented me from considering a Tesla. With the Supercharger network as it will exist by the end of next year I could go every place that I want to go. I don't know if there will be an adequate CCS network in that timeframe, so this could be the deciding factor.

Disadvantages,
1) Can they survive on their own? They've bet the farm on the Model 3 and so far it's not going well. They preannounced shipments by at least 6 months. Mature auto companies have their manufacturing lines up and running 6 months before they announce the availability of a new car, Tesla delivered some hand built prototypes and said they would be building 5000/month in a few months, it didn't happen. They aren't close to full production and it's anybody's guess as to when that will really happen. They've already had their first layoff, they called it performance reviews but that's BS, you don't fire 700 people on the same day because of reviews. Tesla has been fueled by cheap money, if it looks like they are in trouble the money will dry up. If the money drys up their stock will crash to reasonable levels and they will become a target for someone like Apple which could buy them for the spare change in Tim Cook's sofa.
2) How reliable will the Model 3 be. The Model X has been a disaster but the numbers are small so they can handle it with their already strained service infrastructure. The margins are smaller on the Model 3 and the volumes are an order of magnitude greater, if there are any problems at all they won't be able to handle them with their service network. Assuming that they solve their manufacturing problems, and I think they will, the support problem could still sink them. By 2019 or 2020 we will have the answers as to Tesla's long term viability. If they have a path forward at that time they will be a front runner for my next car, but if they are circling the drain I'll probably just wait until GM has an EV that I really want.
 

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I forgot to add another reason I wouldn't buy a Model 3: the interior. It looks like they went to a junkyard and ripped the dash out of a 1990's Buick and duct taped an iMac in the center. No driver's gauges where they need to be. Unconventional controls. Not a fan... but to each their own.

Mike
 

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Great analysis. To add to it, the Tesla is aimed at a different demographic. People who can plunk down 100K for a car usually have more than one. So range anxiety is not really an issue, and making sales was easy. When GM went fully electric with the Bolt, they beat Tesla to the punch. In this case the punch is selling BEVs to middle class (rather than upper middle class) families that also may have 2 cars. This is ultimately a larger market than the Tesla model S demographic.
That's a common misconception - possibly related to the assumption that folks buying Teslas are people who generally buy $100k cars.

Neither is true in my experience - a large portion of the Tesla buying population is buying a much more expensive car than they'd ever considered before because of the things that Tesla offers them, and only 16% of the people that answered a poll on the subject on TMC would use another car for road trips, while more than half don't own an ICE or hybrid car:

https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads/tesla-as-only-car-poll.79186/
 

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And as of October 2017, I do not believe I could drive Tesla straight from SoCal to Florida via I-10. Tucson to El Paso is over 300 miles.
For what it's worth, Tesla has two Supercharger sites under construction right now in that gap, in Wilcox AZ and Deming, NM. There's also one in permit at Fort Stockton, TX that would be helpful for that particular trip.

The network isn't perfect yet, but it's a lot better than anything else on offer, and GM doesn't seem to have any interest in supporting anything comparable.
 

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I wonder what the Supercharger lines are going to look like with another 400,000 Teslas on the road. :D
 

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I wonder what the Supercharger lines are going to look like with another 400,000 Teslas on the road. :D
Hopefully we'll find out soon. :)

We will have to see, but I'm hopeful. Outside of a few locations in CA (an one on long island and one in Chicago), lines aren't a thing - actually it's more common to have the station to yourself than to find it half full.

At the same time, Tesla has real time status going out to the cars now, and is presumably studying the usage statistics and times for various sites. With a single click, I can see the current usage of all the sites within two stops of my current location.

In the future, I expect Tesla to do predictive load analysis with it - when the car lays out the route in Navigation, it'll add the times it expects you to be at the SpC sites on your route to a master list - and if Tesla sees a bunch of cars hitting the same site at the same time an hour from now, they'll take actions to mitigate it - pushing some cars there with a smaller margin to get there early, holding others to a higher SoC at the pervious stop, or routing later cars around that station to an interlocking chain, so you don't have to wait.

The software involved won't be easy - but it won't be the hardest thing Tesla has done by a long shot, and it can go out to every car by OTA update. I think it's a given Tesla will do something like that eventually because it lets them run the same set of stations at a significantly higher utilization smoothly.
 

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That's a common misconception - possibly related to the assumption that folks buying Teslas are people who generally buy $100k cars.
Sorry. This denial doesn't wash. Of the ten or so people I know who have a Model S, conspicuous consumption is the main reason all ten own one. For a few, technological innovation is a second reason. In fact the Model S and X are the perfect conspicuous consumption vehicles. Not only do they cost a lot, but they are supremely impractical for actually going anywhere. (Being less practical is ALWAYS a good thing when you're marketing conspicuous consumption).

The Model 3 will have similar appeal but for a different demographic. Like the Model S, at its price point Model 3 will definitely be impractical. But the Model 3 won't appeal to Model S owners. After the Range Rover I think the Model S is the single most popular vehicle in my area. I don't expect I'll see many Model 3 for the same reason I never see a BMW 3 Series -- too de classe.

Nothing wrong with selling conspicuous consumption. BMW and Mercedes and now Audi do it. Cadillac wishes it could do it. Rather than deny it seems like it's better to just own it.
 
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