General Motors Exec Throws Shade at Tesla Model 3

Powertrain executive mocks electric-car darling during speech.

One of General Motors’s top executives took a moment to talk a little trash trash about Tesla and the Model 3 during his speech to the SAE World Congress on April 13. Does anyone else smell beef?

GM vice-president of global propulsion systems Dan Nicholson was in the midst of extolling the upcoming Chevrolet Bolt electric car when he took a shot at Elon Musk’s greatly-hyped Model 3:

“I am very proud of the Chevrolet Bolt that’s coming out, which will be the first to market as a long-range affordable battery electric vehicle,” Nicholson said, according to The Detroit Free Press. “It will have more than 200 miles of range and it will be in production by the end of 2016, so it’s not necessary to put down $1,000 and wait until 2018 or some time after that.” At which point, the audience presumably made that oooooooh! noise the Maury Povich audience used to make when some moron confessed to sleeping with his brother’s wife.

The Chevy Bolt is expected to be the closest thing the Tesla Model 3 will have to a direct competitor, once the cars are both on sale. Both vehicles are expected to start around $35,000, and the Model 3’s 215-mile battery stacks up squarely against the Bolt’s expected range. But the Bolt is a chunky wagonoid hatchback, while the Model 3 is a sleek sedan with an odd face.

Nicholson’s remarks, of course, come just as the global furor over the Tesla Model 3 is beginning to die down in the wake of the electric car’s unveiling on March 31. More than 325,000 people around the globe have put down (refundable) deposits of around $1,000 for the mid-sized Tesla, many of them standing in line for days for the opportunity.

General Motors does have a few advantages, though. It has vastly more experience when it comes to pumping out mainstream models, whereas Tesla has largely been a boutique vendor of luxury vehicles. Tesla has had trouble getting new models out the door on schedule, leading some analysts to suggest the Model 3 may not arrive until 2018. The Bolt, on the other hand, will be on sale this year.

And as much as Tesla may be a media darling these days, the company is burning hundreds of millions of dollars each quarter—so quickly, in fact, that they may be forced to borrow money to keep the lights on until the Model 3 enters production.

“GM’s balance sheet is in pretty strong shape,” Nicholson told the SAE World Congress, “so we don’t need to take $1,000 of your money just to hold a spot.”