Motor Trend recently picked up the two major electric cars on the road today with 60 kWh batteries (kinda*) for testing - the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Tesla Model S for comparison reviews.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

Both are made in U.S., and both offer more than 200 miles range (238 miles in the Bolt EV, 210 miles in the base Model S).

On the pricing side, the Chevrolet Bolt EV costs just under $30,000 (after $7,500 tax credit), while the 60 kWh Tesla starts from $59,700 -  so the Tesla is nearly twice as expensive.

Given the pricing, we think a more appropriate choice for comparison against the Bolt would have obviously been a Tesla Model 3; but as entry level 3's won't likely be available for a couple years, Motor Trend went with what they could.

Moving on...

The Tesla is rear wheel-drive, while the Bolt EV is front wheel-drive. Acceleration from 0-60 mph actually doesn't differ that much: 5.0 seconds for Tesla and 6.3 seconds for the Bolt EV according to Motor Trend (although we should note, this is the first time we have seen the Bolt EV tested lower than 6.5 seconds to date).

Interestingly, the difference is (relatively speaking) even smaller on a quarter mile:

  • Tesla: 13.6 seconds at 103.5 mph
  • Bolt EV: 14.9 seconds at 93.1 mph

*- Of note on the Tesla used in this test: - the 60 kWh "battery" in the base Model S is now actually a 75 kWh battery limited to 60 kWh (instead of an actual 60 kWh battery).  After purchase, the owner can optionally upgrade, or unlock if you will, the last 15 kWh - for $9,000, which ups the range to ~234 miles.

Chevrolet Bolt EV w/Optional CCS Combo

Chevrolet Bolt EV w/Optional CCS Combo

Where this is an important difference is in the charging - the Tesla Model S can use the company's proprietary Supercharging network - which features multiple charge points per location, or the existing CHAdeMO fast charging infrastructure (with adapter); the Model S is also capable at charging at up to more than 2x faster than the Chevy.

Tesla Model S (and friends) at a Supercharging stop

Tesla Model S (and friends) at a Supercharging stop

As for the Chevrolet Bolt EV, it uses a J1772 Combo inlet (not a standard option). A typical Combo charge these days is mostly limited to 50 kW (but also often @20 kW),  and the network is clearly not ready for long journeys at this point, certainly not in relation to the Tesla/CHAdoMO grid.

While the extensive Motor Trend article offers detailed insights about the driving experience that one should also check out, here is the summary:

"Ultimately the Bolt and Model S 60 quite close in performance and function. The Model S remains a technical tour de force three years after its release, with Tesla appearing to have no intention of letting its flagship car wither on the vine. If semi-self-driving technology and a proven quick-charging capability with worldwide infrastructure for long-distance travel is what you’re after, there’s really no choice but the Tesla.

Is that capability worth the $30,000 premium over the Bolt? Well, if you have to travel long distances regularly, then possibly. But if simple fuel-free driving is what you’re after, the Bolt’s stellar real-world range can cover a week’s worth of commuting plus errands for the average American without charging. Its 238 miles of range also easily enable intercity—but not interstate—travel. Toss the Bolt’s puppy-dog driving dynamics into the mix with its stellar efficiency and family-friendly packaging, and the choice becomes pretty clear: the Chevrolet Bolt EV wins. More than any EV that’s come before it, the Bolt makes emissions-free, environmentally friendly transportation a realistic proposition for millions of Americans. It has made the current crop of pricey, short-range electric cars from BMW, Nissan, and others utterly irrelevant."