Tesla founder Elon Musk told a reporter via Twitter that he’s now overseeing the Model 3 line personally: “I’m back to sleeping at factory,” he wrote. “Car biz is hell …” Musk also started SpaceX, which launched a Tesla roadster into space atop the world’s largest rocket in February.
“If they can get a roadster into space, I think fixing production issues is pretty reasonable,” Levy said.
Both companies reported first-quarter production figures at the start of April, with Tesla touting nearly 8,200 Model 3s out the door. The Bolt ran well behind, at less than 4,400. But both showed extensive growth, with the Bolt’s deliveries up more than 40 percent over the same period of 2017. Tesla didn’t start delivering the Model 3 until last summer, but says it quadrupled from the quarter that ended in December.
Levy said that despite Tesla’s problems, it’s “a fan favorite” with a cachet comparable to computer giant Apple.
“It’s got popular demand. It’s the brand that people want to be seen in,” he said. “The Bolt is more day-to-day. You don’t show off a GM vehicle the way you show off a Tesla.”
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But GM chief Mary Barra told a conference in March that customers have been pleasantly surprised by the Bolt.
“They don’t know what to expect,” she said. “They think they’re maybe going to compromise, and then they realize they don’t at all. It’s a great vehicle.”
Barra said Chevy plans to step up Bolt production later this year and wants to have at least 20 all-electric models on the street by 2023. Those are aimed not only at the US market but at countries like China, which is trying to reduce the pollution that came with its rapid industrialization.
But the Bolt is also cheaper right now, Levy said. Tesla is first delivering its more upscale Model 3 packages with a higher-powered motor that gets more than 300 miles on a charge.
And while Tesla is currently leading GM in sales, GM “has traveled farther in terms of technological development and is more likely to weather any storms on the horizon,” Shepard said.