Hyundai Kona Electric – Is This The Chevy Bolt EV Killer?

OCT 16 2018 BY WADE MALONE 114

Hyundai rolls out another solid plug-in offering with the Kona Electric

Everyday Reviews’ Brian Chow came away a fan of the new Hyundai Kona Electric. On the interior there is a lot to like with heated and ventilated seats and plenty of cargo room. In the back seat, headroom is good although a bit more leg room would be ideal.

Apple Carplay and Android Auto are standard. Dashboard and center console is well thought out. Buttons sport unique shapes and sizes that can be found easily without taking your eyes off the road.

Exterior design choices (aerodynamic wheels, odd looking “grill” ) aren’t quite as appealing. Range on the Hyundai Kona Electric is excellent with a 64 kWh battery – larger than a Chevy Bolt. The Kona EV bests the Bolt in overall range. Although the Hyundai has slower 0-60 performance.

Kona EV Buttons

So will the Hyundai Kona Electric be a Chevy Bolt killer? Most likely on the global market but certainly not here in the U.S. According to a recent press release by Hyundai:

2019 Kona Electric models will be produced in Ulsan, Korea and will be available in the beginning of 2019, with initial availability in California and subsequently in the ZEV-focused states in the western and northeastern regions of the U.S. market.

Unfortunately, this roll-out is typical for Hyundai/Kia. The automaker continues to allocate as few PHEV and BEV models to the U.S. as they can. So drivers in the states will have a difficult time finding the small crossover. Europe and South Korea are expected to receive much wider availability.

Still, the Kona EV has been well received. So for buyers in the U.S. that have access to a ZEV state Hyundai dealer, check out the vehicle for yourself once available. For more information and the full review, watch the video above!

Video Description via Everyday Reviews on YouTube:

The 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric is ready to take on all EVs. With a 415 kms / 258 Mile range, this sub-compact SUV should have no problem fitting into anyones life. Its the best of all worlds, an electric vehicle and an SUV. Customers interested in a Tesla Model 3 should definitely look at the Kona EV.

Hyundai Kona Electric

Hyundai Kona Electric
21 photos
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114 Comments on "Hyundai Kona Electric – Is This The Chevy Bolt EV Killer?"

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This will all depend on pricing and availability. The Kona is compromised do to the need for it to be able to accommodate a gasoline engine. So despite the car being similar in exterior dimensions to the Bolt EV in reality it is noticeably smaller (and heavier) than the Bolt EV. I would think the e-Niro is the more competitive product (again depending on price and availability). Also the Bolt EV is already 2 years old and will be due for a mid-cycle enhancement next year. It’s nice to see that the competition is just starting to catch GM. Competition is good and hopefully this pushes some good mid-cycle improvements to the Bolt EV next year.

I’ve seen reviewers who conclude the opposite, that the KONA offers more interior space than the Bolt, despite an identical wheelbase. The rear seat passengers enjoy two inches greater shoulder room too, because the car doesn’t taper off to a narrow top the way the Bolt does. The seats are far better, it’s better equipped, it’s more efficient, it charges much faster, and in my opinion it is simply lightyears ahead in terms of exterior and interior design. And the Ampera-e basically does not even exist anymore, making all of the above a moot point in Europe. Over here, Kia’s soon-arriving Niro is the competition, which is funny since Hyundai and Kia are of course two sides of the same coin. Hyundai however seems to have production constraints and there’s much speculation they simply can’t get hold of enough batteries to supply to demand. Whatever the reason, it looks very unlikely this will change next year, since Hyundai has announced production targets for next year at the level of the Ioniq, which is itself hard to get hold of in many markets. That means a lot of people who might have bought a Kona (or Niro) will likely get several… Read more »

I’ve physically sat in both. I’m a large 300+lb guy that is 6’1″. I can easily sit behind myself in the Bolt EV (no easy task for any car). I can’t even get into the back seat of a Kona with the front seat adjusted for me.

Being 6’4″ and a bit fatter i agree on the lack of space in the Kona. Kia E-Niro is much, much better in this regard.

Speaking of seats, i can not for the life of me understand people who praise the Nissan Leaf. I sat in it for no longer than 30 seconds before i had to get out. You’d have to have tiniest parisian ass to fit in that seat comfortable.

Agreed I can’t fit in a Leaf well either. But I fit plenty fine in our Bolt EV.

A Bolt killer? GM’s pricing is the real Bolt killer.

Pricing as the only 200+ mile, <$40k BEV you can buy in all 50 states? You can't even buy a Tesla in all 50 states.
Try again please.

Yes, as a subcompact hatchback economy car it is very expensive. GM made the curious decision to design the Bolt to compete with gas cars that start well under $20k, making it feel like the electric drivetrain puts a 15-20 thousand dollar premium on the car. This is why sales of the Bolt are so embarrassingly low, despite being available in all 50 states.

Plus…It’s Fugly

“Plus…It’s Fugly”

Fugly is forgivable in the econobox segment if the price is right.

This Kona in this article you are looking at is the same size as the Bolt EV. They are very similar vehicles. The Bolt has a shorter front, so probably means slightly roomier interior with the same overall length.

The Kona is no more functional than the Bolt EV. Both FWD hatchbacks. The question is if it has the options you want. They are similar priced. So how is the Bolt EV overpriced and the Kona not?

What do I like about the Bolt EV? I can buy it in my state.

“What do I like about the Bolt EV? I can buy it in my state.”

….but you haven’t bought one and won’t buy one. Why?

I can, I did and I love my Bolt forever, AND I’m happy the Kona is coming around (albeit slowly). It would be insane for any current EV owner to be fearful or regretful because some new high quality option is joining the marketplace.

@Derp
Well, bro1999 is forever apologizing for the Bolt and slamming Tesla. Can’t be pro EV with that kind of attitude.

Yep, that puzzles me a lot – supposedly people come here to help support the rEVolution in the automotive realm, well, I know many of us do – including myself. I like hybrids, plug-in hybrids, fuel cells (in principle – not necessarily the current offerings), BEV’s, everything that has electrified propulsion. EVery meaningful contribution is valuable, regardless of its brand.

The footprint is the same, but the Bolt is a couple of inches taller, and because Kona’s nose is about 4″ longer, the internal space in it must be shorter … from what I know, both the Kona and the Bolt “qualify” for the CUV badge (I remember it was > 110 cu. ft. of overall internal volume), although the Bolt is shaped more like a mini-minivan, making it a microvan, I guess.

60+ kWh of useable capacity does cost a bit, even with a cell cost of only $145 per kWh. About $9,570 just for the cells, actually.

It is, to say the least, difficult to believe GM made it out of burning desire to save the planet. It’s clearly there to enable the selling of profitable SUVs in undiminished scale. And that’s ok. The problem is government that sets targets so low that they can easily be achieved without making real changes. But even that will eventually correct itself.

A subcompact hatchback economy car @ $35K would indeed be very expensive, but so called “hot hatches” (that by the way are a lot lower and smaller on inside than the Bolt, and not quite as hot) like the souped-up Golf or Focus easily get into the $30K-$40K price bracket.

The sales figures are exactly what GM said they would be – 20-30K a year, maybe up to 50K at some point. The Bolt became available exactly when GM said it would be – Jan 2017 in select states, Sep 2017 – nationwide. Both the base version (LT) and the Premier version are available. Lease is available and no prepayment is necessary. Just a normal commodity in a free market. What’s so embarrassing about it?

Thanks to The Sell out Politicians & AMERICAN DICTATORSHIP You Cannot Buy A Tesla In Every State..So Much For……. lol….Free Enterprise .

You can buy a Tesla in all 50 states, if you include the used market. Your blanket statement isn’t completely accurate. I didn’t realize that Tesla had been mentioned in this article. I must’ve missed something.

“Pricing as the only 200+ mile, <$40k BEV you can buy in all 50 states? You can't even buy a Tesla in all 50 states.
Try again please.”

How about you try to explain why sales numbers are so paltry. In your expert opinion is it because a of lack of availability? Production problems? Or are you saying the car flat out sucks? Are you going to try and polish the turd that is their sales numbers?

IMO it is a fine car that is over priced. As you say it is sub $40k but as an upgraded econobox it should be priced around $20k after incentives.

Like I already mentioned earlier, the Bolt serves as a mass-produced prototype platform for then upcoming generation of the GM EV’s and self-driving vehicles. GM did say that.

Who gives a damn about sales numbers?? I don’t. All I know is, the Bolt is the ONLY car in America that does what it does for the price. Yes, the upcoming Kona and Niro will be very competitive, but they are not here now, nor were they in March of 2017 when I bought my Bolt. So now people wave around sales numbers to prove who’s “winning”. Big deal. Tesla didn’t win my business and apparently they never wanted my business, but now we have to endure the wealthy snobs in their Model 3s looking down on my “clown car”, my “compliance car”, or my “city runabout” while they drive the “clear winner”. Sorry, but until folks like Hyundai dare to show up in numbers, there is no race and the Bolt stands alone. You say the Bolt is way over priced and imply that GM should just wave a magic wand and suddenly make battery packs $10,000 cheaper so they can price the Bolt as it exists where you in your mind think it should be. That’s fantasy. We have to remember, GM is expected to be profitable in the short here and now, not the ten years… Read more »

Well, when GM hits 200,000 EV sales by the end of the year probably and starts to wind down its tax credits then the Hyndai/Kia will become Bolt killers because they will suddenly be thousands of dollars cheaper then the Bolt and they are near identical in their market.

Kona EV price is going to be very similar to the Bolt. I predict higher.

Pricing is the same as this Kia that is the same size and function. FWD hatch with about 240 mile EV range.

I used to think that, and someone said a good comparison to the Bolt EV is a Ford Focus ST in terms of both being hot hatches with similar performances. This person used the Focus ST as proof that the Bolt EV was well overpriced. While the initial price of the base Focus ST seems in seems inexpensive in comparison to the Bolt EV, the Kelly Blue Book 5-year cost to own estimates tells a different story.

KBB 5-year cost to own:

Chevy Bolt EV — $41,894
Ford Focus ST — $39,504

Once you subtract the US Federal Tax credit, the Bolt EV is about $5,000 less expensive over a 5 year ownership period.

https://www.kbb.com/chevrolet/bolt-ev/2017/lt/?r=447611218111031100

https://www.kbb.com/ford/focus/2018/st/?vehicleid=431173&intent=buy-new&category=hatchback

It’s the cheapest 200+ mile range EV you can buy so how could the cheap price be a Bolt killer?

It is only a killer if they plenty to offer it cheaper than the Bolt AND plenty availability. Neither is confirmed at this point.

The Kona is a Bolt killer at least in Europe, where price is 5k lower and range at least 50 Miles more. If you don’t like Kona than wait for the Kia Niro EV

You’ll be waiting alright. Latest indication in the Netherlands is that ‘buy a Kona today’ means getting one delivered in 9 to 12 months. Hyundai needs to kill production limitations instead of Bolts.

Yep, also some other EVs in European countries have delays. For instance 6 months for the I-Pace last time I checked… seems like when it’s Tesla delays it’s such a failing company, but others can limit production all they want without consequences.

Some… All.

I think the 50 miles of difference you mentioned have to do with the European mi/kWh testing methods, which are detached from real-life experience of most drivers. The WLTP range is typically 20% too optimistic vs. EPA, which is remarkably accurate for an average driver.

Range is essentially the same. The Ampera-E never really had real WLTP rating. Look at EPA for both and the Kia is good for a few more miles, but not 50. Ampera-E has issue of GM not owning Opel anymore, so there is a markup on it. I think in US the vehicles will be comparably priced?

The Bolt EV isn’t sold in Europe, due to GM’s contract with Groupe PSA.

I suppose that you really mean Opel Ampera-E.
The car for which 2 different auto makers get their cut of profits (or avoid greater losses).

Given that 2 companies get a piece of the price action, of course the Opel Ampera-E doesn’t do well in Europe.

The Kona only has an EPA 12-miles (19.2 km) range advantage over the Bolt (a 5% gain).
And this is with a 7% larger battery.

Hyundai Kona Electric will be sold in more countries than the GM Bolt.
The Kona EV is selling well in the countries that it has already been released in.

The Kona will kill the sales of Bolt in South Korea, that’s why GM is redirecting a huge chunk of the deliveries to that country, because when Kona is available there at high scale, the Bolt won’t stand a chance.

You may be surprised about how the Bolt fares in SK even when the Kona/Niro are widely available there. There are quite a few South Koreans that “shun” domestic brands in favor of foreign brands, and while Chevy is a nothing special in the US, in SK it’s more upscale as an “import” brand. GM should have no problem selling every single Bolt it ships to SK. All ~5k allotments for 2018 were sold out before they were even built.

Chevy is domestic to Korea the same way Toyota Tundra and some of their other vehicles are domestic to the US. Most of GM’s global European market is run from Korea. The Bolt EV is also designed at the Korean design center.

After the Hyun-ki brands, Chevy is next for market share being 3rd overall in Korea. Given similar prices the Bolt EV will sell very well there.

It’s all about the price. If KonaEV is a gasser with performance less than SparkEV at Bolt’s price, would you buy it? I certainly wouldn’t.

The Kona is heavier than the Bolt, has lower acceleration performance, has less interior space and will be priced slightly higher. I don’t think its small range advantage will compensate. Its less polarizing look may though.

IMO the range advantage will not be the reason for buying the Kona/Niro over the Bolt(at least not the main reason). That will be the exterior looks(it looks more like a CUV rather than a hatchback), interior(the Kona/Niro have better interior looks), faster charging(Kona/Niro both accept 70kW charge rate, and they taper down at a higher SoC, so you get more MPH charging).
Lastly, it is hopefully *not* intended to compete with the Bolt. Hopefully it is positioned well enough to compete with ICE cars instead.

Apparently Hyundai doesn’t want to produce, sell and deliver too many EV’s.

Just as many as they are required to sell in order to comply with regulations.

They make profits by selling ICE cars. And they want to continue doing that. For as long as possible.

Governments must forbid the sale of ICE vehicles. That’s the only solution. Like Norway in 2025.

Just make a progressive sales cut: no more than 90% of their ICE Sales of previous year; like a 10% Sales Unit Depreciation limit! They can sell BEV’s to make up the difference!

@ Robert Weekley

The first and the most important step is that governments have to set a time limit to the sales of new ICE vehicles. Governments have to make it crystal clear to the car manufacturers that their game is going to end anyway.

Car manufacturers need to understand that they are traveling on a ship called the “Titanic”, and that this ship is going to sink anyway. It would be wise for them to leave this ship before it sinks.

Beside that time limit, yes there must also be annual limitations to how many ICE vehicles can be sold per year. But these are just smaller steps in the right direction. The time limit is the real knock-out punch.

Oh, I think they will still be having port and cigars in the ward room, when they hit the berg.

The only large(ish) issue with the Kona is that there’s no associated smartphone app that does the climate control. One of the best features of the Nissan Leaf is the ability to pre-heat the car from my phone. I haven’t scraped ice off the windscreen for the last two winters. Love it!

In Europe the Kona does not have a smart phone app. In NA Hyundai has “Blue Link” app which should allow their EVs to pre-heat just as it does for their ICEVs. Perhaps someone with one of the rare Ioniq EVs can confirm.

Compliance car vs compliance car

Kona vs Niro in the US? 100% agree.

Since neither of them is available in the US, it would be fair to give them the benefit of the doubt.

In the US, compliance cars are those offered for sale only in the CARB states and in numbers, barely sufficient to meet the legal demands. Typically, they are ad hoc conversions of ICE cars, for example the Focus EV, the Soul EV, the e-Golf, the Spark EV, the Fiat 500e etc.

The Bolt sells in all kinds of places and in all kinds of numbers, depending on the demand. It was purposefully developed to be a long range EV and the “progenitor” of the upcoming generation of EV’s and self-driving cars. It doesn’t share its platform with any other GM vehicle.

Conclusion: not a compliance car.

The Kona EV isn’t available in the US yet, but doesn’t look like an intentional compliance car to me. That said, If Hyundai were to restrict its availability to the CARB states only, let’s say for longer than 6 months, then yes, we can talk “compliance car”.

Conclusion: inconclusive.

“Conclusion: not a compliance car.”

…but in the it sells in compliance car quantities. Care to give a dissertation as to why that is?

Many of the markets that this vehicle is sold in simply don’t have the concept of a Compliance Car.
How many sales does a car need to make it no longer a compliance car? Who knows as there really is no real definition of this.
It is time to stop using this as a derogatory term(IMHO)

Another issue I have with the car is that for that price I expect a higher quality vehicle… everything is hard plastic on the inside and on the outside there are many budget parts used… for the price of an Audi Q3, I expect higher quality…

That’s the current reality for EVs.
They are not close to price parity yet.

In this particular case I agree, as the main, most expensive component, the guts of the vehicle, batteries, are made by LG Chem, so that adds quite a bit to the cost.
But if there were a company that could vertically integrate, its battery production facilities, with its vehicle production, all in the same country, well then that would be a different kettle of fish.

Model 3 is at price superiority.

Better than 3 series et. al. for similar upfront cost.

We shall see if it is a Bolt killer. Slower, a few more miles of range. Maybe?

The Bolt is due for a small upgrade in Battery capacity at this point and that would put it back on top in the non-tesla range ratings.

Modest range bump, along with a fast charging speed bump and either ACC or (even better) Supercruise.

Or just buy a Model 3 with Autopilot, even better.

Yeah right. You forgot to mention the additional $8000 USD on top of the supplemental $7000 USD sticker price.

AutoPilot is $5000 extra.

My bad. Included the self-driving.

You can’t drive hands free with Autopilot. Anyways, AP is inferior to Supercruise, so why would I want inferior tech?
https://jalopnik.com/consumer-reports-ranks-cadillacs-super-cruise-above-tes-1829518600

SuperCruise only works on a few select highways, cannot change lanes and requires a premium OnStar subscription. The same report you are referring to shows AutoPilot as having higher “Capability & Performance” over SuperCruise.

A Chevrolet Bolt with a 80 kWh battery pack would be very interesting.

Or 40kWh and a lower price.

That will raise the price and make it even less appealing. What they need to do is to lower the price. Since tax credit will expire soon, they need to bring it down to $25K, about that of VW GTI and other hot-hatch.

In Korea, Bolt is about $23K post subsidy, making it cheaper than comparable hot-hatch. That’s why it’s so “hot” in Korea and why I got it in US at $25K post subsidy when it was on special sale.

Bolts are listed at $5k off at my local dealer (real discounts, no “you need to have leased 3 GM vehicles in the last 5 years, and your uncle’s uncle had to be a GM employee” unicorn discounts that only 4 people are actually eligible for). And that’s 5k before any haggling. So the actual going price for a base Bolt is as low as $32.7k before incentives. It’s very possible that GM could drop the price of the Bolt to account for the loss of the fed tax credit. There’s definitely room. Plus GM’s battery cell costs are expected to drop to $120/kWh by 2020 (18% drop compared to when the Bolt first came out), which gives some more price flexibility.

Due to local battery facility coming online. From$145/kWh, which is good though Tesla is below that $120kWh already. Maybe then they will be inclined to raise production and lower the price, but things aren’t looking that good for GM these days, not all due to their own missteps.

GM doesn’t make the batteries for the Bolt.

Surprised the discount is not more considering how undesirable that car is.

I guess the fact that it is limited production means they still get some buyers.

You must be in CA, we ain’t seeing any such discounts here in PA…

And/or a faster charging speed …

A Chevrolet Bolt with a 80 kWh battery pack would be very expensive. FIFY.

ga2500ev

My employer has a Bolt. I like it, except for the small cargo space. Can any EVs take trailer hitch bike racks?

The Niro EV should have more cargo space, with comparable range and price. That could make it a Bolt killer. Or maybe maimer?

A lot of Bolt owners have trailer hitch bike racks.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

The KoNiro also have:
– faster charging
– ACC and autosteer

But they can’t kill the Bolt because there won’t be enough of them sold.
The Leaf+ will also be coming next year.
But rather than kill the Bolt they should make GM up the spec a bit. If not, there should be some good deals on the Bolt.

You can get lane keep assist on the Bolt EV.

Doubt they will put a bigger battery in. If you look at past GM business models, more likely they lower the price, maybe add some current options as standard.

Chevy needs to make the Bolt more appealing…..right now other offerings are a better value.

The BMW i3 is in the same boat….

What’s a better offering?

The Kona and Bolt are nearly identical in size, with the Bolt have a bit more interior passenger volume, and more seats down cargo room. And It’s quicker to 60mph.

So it’s bad if mainstream media calls various EV efforts “Tesla Killers”, but ok, when you do it to GM’s EV?

It’s the name of the video review above. Wouldn’t have used it myself otherwise. Although the Kona v Bolt is a far more relevant comparison than Kona or Bolt v Model 3 for instance.

Still his review didn’t actually answer the question posed in his video title. So I attempted to: Maybe in the global market, but not in the US. 🙂

There’s enough demand for EVs, that I think both will sell all they can make.

“all they choose to make” that is….

Instead of focusing on a horse race between two BEVs, why not pay attention to how the Kona EV (or the Bolt or the Leaf) stack up against similarly sized/configured ICEvs? How appealing is the Kona EV compared to the RAV4 or the HRV, for example? And will one of the 4 upcoming Nissan BEVs be a Rogue EV (or Rogue Sport EV) to compete with the Kona? These questions are far more interesting and, I would argue, important right now.

The unique vehicle killed is and ice cars

English please.

I speak Chinese-to-English-Instruction-Manual: With happy joyous. Go spritely and with great caution. Carefully win over ice cars!

The production of kona 2019 is 10.000

“The production of kona 2019 is 10.000”

According to pusevs.com’s sales numbers the Kona BEV should surpass 10k units sold this month.

Right now the Leaf is doing a pretty good job as a Bolt EV killer. The Leaf has consistently outsold the Bolt for the last several months even though the inventory of new Bolt EVs has been better. The Bolt EV has some serious problems if a car with 90 miles less range can consistently outsell it.

This is mostly because of consumers unawareness of the Bolt.

Unfortunately, the LEAF is far from an interesting deal when compared to the Bolt. Especially considering its outdated charging and battery management system. Its price/range ratio is also especially bad.

But again, if the LEAF fits your needs, then it’s the best one.

it wouldnt take much but does it have to be a competition?

“Unfortunately, this roll-out is typical for Hyundai/Kia.”

Yes, and that’s where it stops. Hyundai/Kia have yet to offer a 50-state EV.

It won’t be killing any Bolt sales in Virginia, as it will never be sold here. Same for most of the EVs talked about on EV sites. After 16 months, and 16K miles, still the only long range, affordable EV available in flyover country. Most fun driving since my old British sports cars.

How can it kill that which is not alive in the first place?

The Volt, Prime, and each Tesla already killed the Bolt.

So you’re saying the Bolt I’m currently driving is a zombie? Just in time for Halloween!

The Bolt EV is more than a second quicker (0-60 mph) than the Kona.
Something convenient left out.

not if the Koreans don’t commit to building them in numbers, they need to get with the Japanese program and build under licence in other countries

Another point of comparison. In South Korea the Bolt EV price starts at 45.58 Million Won, The Kona EV (64KWh) starts at 48.62 Million Won and the Niro EV (64KWh) starts at 49.97 Million Won. Also of note in South Korea Bolt EV is imported from USA. Kona and Niro are built in South Korea. Note prices include taxes but do not include incentives.

I have the Ampera-e. A friend has the Kona. It will never be a Bolt killer. They can be rated as equals, but none of them will «kill» the other.

“Bolt Killer”? Gotten tired of using ‘Tesla Killer’ then? /s /s /s

Seriously, we should get past this IMHO childlike desperation for a ‘xxxx Killer’ car.
Surely there is room for all of them?
You know just like in the ICE world are people still hungup on having one EV and only one EV for everyone on the planet and naturally that vehicle has to have a ‘T’ badge on it…. (sic)

I’m sure GM must be terrified as Hyundai begins it’s massive sales effort in the USA where they will sell, *gasp* 50 units per month due to the constant limited availability of Kia/Hyundia EV products, with nothing likely to change anytime soon.

The real competition of the Hyundai Kona EV wont be the Bolt, but the Hyundai Kona ICE/PHEV. They have to price (and make available) the EV version right in comparaison to ICE version, so people can see on monthly payment that the electric is a bit cheaper, without making concession. Then, it will be a no brainer.

I think GM are doing all they can to kill the Bolt and don’t need help from Hyundai.

The question is wrong.
Chevy will continue to sell as many Bolts as they want to.
Will the Kona EV kill ICE compact SUVs?

WTF is WRONG with YOU? Why repeat this dirty energy meme? SHAME! Your title should be, “Is THIS the gasoline car killer?”

You do realize this is the title of the video review being linked to, right? That is the reason my article has this name. I own a Chevy Bolt.

And in regards to him using the term “(blank) killer” in the title, this is not a “dirty energy meme.” It is a common way across industries to refer to a new competing product against the existing gold standard product.

Iphone
https://nypost.com/2018/08/03/samsung-leaks-video-of-its-new-iphone-killer/

DOOM FPS video game
https://knowyourmeme.com/photos/1343013-gaming

Corvette that is a “Ferrari killer”:
https://www.wired.com/2015/02/review-ferocious-new-corvette-z06-80k-ferrari-killer/

People refer to “Tesla killers” and in this case to a “bolt killer” because those are seen as the reigning champs that other offerings hope to challenge. Neither the Bolt nor the Tesla will ever actually be “killed”.