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Chevy's 238-mile promise a game changer for electric cars

After months of promises by General Motors executives that the new Chevy Bolt will change the perception — and appeal — of electric cars, the company says the Bolt is ready to deliver.

The automaker says the 2017 Bolt EV will have an EPA-estimated range of 238 miles on a full charge.

"The Chevy Bolt is a game changer for the electric car segment," said Alan Batey, GM North America president.

Whether the Bolt's range can jump-start America's interest in electric cars remains to be seen. Over the last 10 years, auto executives have touted full electric and extended-range electric models that would make consumers trade in their gasoline-powered cars and crossovers for battery-powered models. For the most part, those models have failed to electrify excitement with consumers.


The GM Chevy Volt, an extended-range electric car that also uses gasoline, is a good example.

Shortly after coming out of bankruptcy, GM said it expected to sell 40,000 Volts a year. That never happened.

In fact, the Volt's best years for sales were 2012 and 2013, when sales topped out at roughly 23,000 vehicles.

GM believes the all-electric Bolt is different because it will offer more than 200 miles range fully charged and will have an estimated starting price of $37,000 before the $7,500 federal tax rebate is applied.

"If you look at the reason why people didn't buy electrified or pure electric vehicles, it was really around either cost or price range, or in some cases utility. We think with the Bolt we have all of those covered and more," Mark Reuss, General Motors executive vice president of global product development, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Tuesday.

The automaker will announce the official price of the Bolt later this year shortly before the car goes on sale.

— CNBC's Tom DiChristopher contributed to this story.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com.