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Chevrolet Has Tesla To Thank For Increased Bolt EV Sales

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Some who’ve canceled their Tesla Model 3 reservations are buying Chevrolet Bolt EVs instead.

As we reported early Saturday morning, Tesla Model 3 reservation holders are in a bit of a pickle. The company recently told a number of would-be Tesla Model 3 intenders it would delay deliveries of their cars—and for some buyers, that means waiting until 2019. This introduced a problem for customers who now expect much later deliveries, as it could result in their ineligibility for the full $7,500 federal EV tax credit once Tesla sells its 200,000th vehicle in the United States.

There's a winner in all of this: General Motors. Chevrolet dealers have made brisk work of selling Bolt EVs since Tesla's announced delay. According to Reuters, Chevy dealers in California have seen an uptick in Bolt EV sales as frustrated Tesla Model 3 intenders cancel their reservations. With Bolt EVs in stock, those dealers can guarantee customers' eligibility for the $7,500 federal EV tax credit. "We're getting the Tesla people who wanted their Model 3," California Chevrolet dealer Yev Kaplinskiy told Reuters. "We ask them, 'What other cars are you interested in?' They're mostly Tesla. But they want the car now. They don't want to wait."

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Reuters reported the dealer sold 15 Bolt EVs last weekend, some of those to people who gave up on Tesla after the latest delay. While both the Model 3 and Bolt EV are priced about the same—starting near $35,000—the federal tax credit makes the range-limited cars more desirable. Both can achieve over 200 miles on a single charge, but that's still short of the average gas-powered vehicle. GM's fortuity is due to Tesla's misfortune. The electric-vehicle manufacturer's most recent headwinds have been caused by its Model 3 production delays.

Numerous issues have conspired to force Tesla CEO Elon Musk's admission the company won't hit its 5,000-unit-per-week Model 3 production goal until March. "I have to tell you I was really depressed about three or four weeks ago," Musk said to industry analysts during a conference call in November. "In the grand scheme of things this is a relatively small shift." We'll know the full extent of the delays and approximately how many Model 3 buyers opted for the Chevrolet Bolt EV instead when automakers report February sales figures in early March.