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2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

With a base price of $37,495 and an EPA-rated range of 238 miles, the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV has no real direct competition at the moment.

All other electric cars in its price bracket offer substantially lower ranges, while the 200-mile luxury electric cars sold by Tesla now start at $75,000.

Just seven states into the Bolt EV's nationwide rollout, one side effect of that is that prices are variable as dealers try to read the market.

DON'T MISS: Chevrolet Bolt EV: Green Car Reports' Best Car To Buy 2017 (Nov 2016)

The Bolt EV is being discounted by some dealers, and marked up by others, reports Automotive News (subscription required).

It seems dealers—many of which remain largely unfamiliar with electric cars—are having trouble figuring out exactly how to sell the novel long-range, mass-market Bolt EV.

They are largely competing against each other over a pool of customers that still remains small compared to the more familiar buyers of internal-combustion cars.

First 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV buyers, Fremont, California: Bobby Edmonds, Bill Mattos, Steve Henry
First 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV buyers, Fremont, California: Bobby Edmonds, Bill Mattos, Steve Henry

The most intense activity is in California, where the first Bolt EVs were delivered in December.

Greenwood Chevrolet in Hollister, about 100 miles south of San Francisco, is advertising discounts of $2,000 to $3,000 on its Bolt EV inventory this month.

Fremont Chevrolet—which delivered the first three Bolt EVs sold in the U.S.—similarly raised its discounts advertised on its website from $2,000 in February to $3,000 this month.

ALSO SEE: When can I buy a Chevy Bolt EV electric car? See state-by-state schedule

Nationally, the amount consumers paid below sticker price grew from an average of $1,400 in January to $2,200 in February, according to TrueCar.

It's worth noting, however, that this is far from unique to Chevy's electric car. Every new vehicle gets discounts or incentives, averaging from several hundred dollars to as much as $10,000 on aging and hard-to-move examples.

Chevy itself has no cash-back incentives on the Bolt EV at the moment, so these discounts directly reduce dealers' profit margins, but have no effect on how much the automaker earns.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Conversely, some dealers are reportedly offering Bolt EVs at up to $5,000 above sticker price. These markups tend to be in rural areas with fewer dealerships and lower inventory, says Automotive News.

While Chevy dealers compete with each other, some are also looking ahead to the 215-mile, $35,000 Tesla Model 3, which they view as a Bolt EV competitor.

These Chevy dealers hope to attract buyers who had put down reservations and given Tesla their deposits for the Model 3, but likely won't receive their cars for some time.

CHECK OUT: Has GM really 'already lost' the electric-car race to Tesla?

The Model 3 reservation tally was between 300,000 and 400,000 last fall, and Tesla now says it plans to start Model 3 production in July—with a goal of ramping up to 5,000 cars a week by the end of the year.

Even at that rate, it will take Tesla many months to years to make it through the full backlog of reservations, assuming production isn't delayed.

Due to the staggered roll out, the Bolt EV itself won't arrive at dealerships in the last of the 50 states until September.

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