GM promises a $30K, 200-mile electric vehicle…someday

General Motors announced Monday that it’s working on its own long-range electric vehicle, which will have a 200-mile range and a ridiculously low price tag of just $30,000.

The world is waiting for such a car, given the range anxiety that dampens enthusiasm for the current crop of all-electrics, most of which can travel between 75 and 100 miles on a single charge. That’s an acceptable distance for many everyday drivers, but it’s not quite enough for many commuters, let alone families with daily junkets to schools, activities, and stores. Charging your car along the way is no guarantee, either, given that you have to find a station, hope it’ll be available, and stay long enough to make the added charge worth your while.

The only exception is Tesla’s Model S, a loaded four-door sedan with a 200-mile range (265, if you spring for the 85kWh battery). The problem with the Model S is that it’s not exactly cheap: The car starts at $70,000 before government incentives, and pumps up to $80,000 with the bigger battery. The Toyota RAV-4 EV, an all-electric SUV with a 100-mile range (and a battery designed by Tesla), costs $50,000.

The Tesla Model S is the only electric car with a 200-plus-mile range on a full charge, but its lofty price is out of reach of most car buyers.

GM’s news is only somewhat exciting, given that this uber-cheap long-range electric car isn’t anywhere near production. According to the Wall Street Journal, Doug Parks, GM’s vice president of global product programs, didn’t say when the vehicle will launch, noting that the battery technology is still too expensive to create an electric car in the $30,000 price range.

Tesla has been teasing us with the idea of a cheaper Model S for a while now. Back in January, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the company hinted that a $35,000 Model S would be a reality within the next five years. Conceivably, whatever GM’s working on could come out around the same time as Tesla’s own reasonably-priced, mass-market Model S.

It’ll also be interesting to see whether GM’s offering is a game-changer. After all, the electric vehicle landscape is new enough that people are wary of purchasing a high-tech supercar from a boutique automaker in Silicon Valley. But General Motors is good ol’ Midwestern stock.

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