Tesla is struggling to build the Model 3 — and that could be great news for the Chevy Bolt

A lot more Bolts than Model 3s are on the road.

caption
A lot more Bolts than Model 3s are on the road.
source
Hollis Johnson

    Tesla is dealing with Model 3 production bottlenecks, which look to be at the carmaker’s battery factory in Nevada. The company has sold 220 Model 3s through the third quarter. GM has sold over 14,000 Chevy Bolts and could end the year with almost 30,000 in total sales.

When it comes to long-range electric cars, there are two big games in town right now: the Tesla Model 3 and the Chevy Bolt.

Both are priced under $40,000 for the base model, and both can cover over 200 miles on a single battery charge.

But that’s where the similarities end. The Model 3 is a sleek, sexy machine, while the Bolt is a utilitarian hatchback. But General Motors has also sold over 14,000, while as of the end of the third quarter, Tesla has sold 220.

Tesla blamed its woes on production “bottlenecks,” which might be located at the company’s giant battery Gigafactory in Nevada, somewhere in the supply chain, or at the plant in Fremont, CA.

The CEO of Panasonic said that slow-to-automate battery pack production the Gigafactory is the culprit, and that once those problems are resolved, Model 3s will start rolling in much greater numbers.

GM, meanwhile, has endured no bottlenecks with the Bolt, which is assembled at the company’s plant in Orion Township, MI.

And it’s a good thing GM hasn’t, as Bolt sales have increased steadily since the vehicle was launched in limited markets last year (it’s now available nationwide). If the trend continues, GM could sell more Bolts in the last three months of 2017 than it did in first nine.

But the Model 3 looks much cooler.

caption
But the Model 3 looks much cooler.
source
Chevrolet; Tesla; Business Insider/ Yu Han

It somewhat goes without saying that everyone knew this was going to happen. GM has been building cars for over a century, and Tesla has existed for just 14 years. However, auto production isn’t exactly a poorly understood industrial process that takes decades to learn.

Tesla is weak on this score, and unless those production bottlenecks are cleared up, the Bolt’s underdog status could start to change. If you want a Model 3, it’s all but impossible to get one, even if you’ve placed a $1,000 deposit. But if you want a Bolt, you can head down to the local Chevy dealer and see what’s on the lot.

Not for nothing, Chevy is also about to complete its first full year of Bolt production, with all the learning that comes from actually assembling vehicles and putting them on the road. Tesla still has the process ahead of it with the Model 3.