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Tesla to break even on Model 3 at $41,000, says UBS based on cost analysis of Chevy Bolt EV

UBS’ global research group tore down a Chevy Bolt EV to publish an in-depth cost analysis of the all-electric vehicle this week.

It’s probably the best look at the cost of what GM presents as “the first affordable long-range all-electric vehicle” so far, but UBS also uses their analysis to estimate the cost of the Tesla Model 3, which is a difficult, if not impossible, thing to do.

It’s difficult because the two vehicles come from two completely different manufacturing programs.

The Chevy Bolt EV is a low volume vehicle – GM previously said that they planned about 25,000 to 30,000 units per year.

On the other hand, Tesla plans for the Model 3 to be produced at an annual rate of ~400,000 per year.

Furthermore, GM hired LG to manufacture most of the vehicle’s powertrain and electronics. LG Chem supplies the battery cells, but between its other divisions, the South Korean giant supplies all the main powertrain components, the HVAC system, and the instrument/infotainment cluster, among other things.

While Tesla also employs suppliers in its Model 3 production program, the company has integrated the manufacturing of almost its entire powertrain down to even having the battery cells produced under its own roof – though by Panasonic.


Therefore, they think that the Model 3 will not be profitable unless buyers add at least $6,000 in options.

Again, that is based on projections from their teardown of a Chevy Bolt EV:

That goes against what Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been guiding, which was a 20% gross margin on an average sale price of ~$42,000.

On the other hand, we have known for a while that GM was planning to lose money on the Chevy Bolt EV before ZEV credits from California and other ZEV states, but the UBS report now claims that it comes down to a loss of about $7,400 per vehicle. Here are their estimates for the Bolt EV and the Model 3:

As previously noted, we would be careful about any “key insights”, as UBS puts it, on Model 3 cost based on a teardown of a Bolt EV, but the report is really interesting nonetheless.

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