GM shows off its next-generation electric car

GM's new electric car will be based on the automaker's Chevrolet Bolt EV concept car, pictured above.

General Motors

Move over, Tesla (TSLA) -- one of America's big three automakers is preparing its own next-generation electric vehicle.

General Motors (GM) on Thursday confirmed that the vehicle is based on the Chevrolet Bolt EV concept car the company displayed last month at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The car maker claims to have developed a "game-changing, long-range pure electric" car meant for use across the U.S.. The vehicle has an estimated driving range of 200 miles per charge and a target price of around $30,000 after a federal tax rebate.

"The message from consumers about the Bolt EV concept was clear and unequivocal: Build it," GM North America President Alan Batey said in a statement. "We are moving quickly because of its potential to completely shake up the status quo for electric vehicles."

While GM said the new vehicle's production start date and other details would be announced later, supplier sources tell Reuters that Bolt production will begin in the third quarter of next year, with sales likely to start in 2017.

The wire service also notes the only other electric car on the market with a 200-mile range is Tesla's groundbreaking Model S. Before tax credits, prices for the acclaimed Model S start at about $71,000.

Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk says his company's upcoming Model 3 would cost $35,000 before any federal or state tax incentives, so in theory that vehicle's drive-away price would come under the Bolt EV's sales tag.

The Model 3 is also expected to go into production in 2017, although Tesla has another car ahead of the Model 3 to think about -- its twice-delayed Model X, which is reportedly now scheduled to begin deliveries to customers sometime in the third quarter of this year.

Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at AutoTrader.com, thinks the Chevy Bolt has a promising future. She notes that GM is addressing the two main obstacles most consumers have with the current crop of electric vehicles: their high price and modest driving range.

Meanwhile, the recent plunge in U.S. gas prices might reduce motorists' interest in electric cars, especially since traditional gas-powered engines have shown vast improvements in important factors such as power and fuel efficiency.

"Of course, gas prices are volatile and that could change," Krebs said. "Plus, GM, like other automakers, has to plan for the future and meet stringent fuel economy and emission standards in the future, and [electric vehicles] like the Bolt will have to be part of that equation."