Is Tesla sucking the air out of the EV market?

The past few weeks have seen the introduction of three new 2016 models of electric vehicles: the Chevy Volt, the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model X crossover SUV.

By most accounts, the new Volt and the Leaf represent a step forward in the popularization of electric vehicles. Both cars got very good reviews and are an indication of even better things to come.

But as usual, most of the attention was focused on the gull-winged Model X, a forerunner of the much-anticipated Model 3, but a car priced almost completely out of the range of most buyers at $120,000. Nor did the Model X suggest better things to come from the Silicon Valley car company. The Model X is both late and overpriced from its original projections. To many analysts, this suggested that Tesla is being too optimistic in believing it can bring out the Model 3 in 2017 at a price of around $35,000.

This news sunk in heavily among followers of the Tesla stock. Several analysts downgraded their outlook on Tesla’s fortunes over the past week. The stock lost 11 percent of its value, and several analysts suggested there may be worse things to come. This could cast a pall over the entire electric vehicle sector, which is already under pressure from falling gas prices. However, with less lofty ambitions and a much lower profile, both the Volt and the Leaf are making strides that may win them a following among the pioneers of this new mode of transportation.

The 2016 Volt is only being offered on a limited basis in states that have shown a penchant for electric vehicles. California, of course, leads the parade, and the new Volt’s unveiling last week was only in preparation for sale in California. In the next few months, GM will also make it available in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, Maryland and Oregon. The idea, of course, is to limit the marketing effort to cities, which have shown a greater penchant for EVs, and to those parts of the country where people do not have to drive out of the range of EVs for commutes and other errands.

The Volt has shed some weight and beefed up the battery a bit, so it now goes 53 miles before leaning on its auxiliary gasoline engine. This is a 40 percent improvement over the previous version. Altogether, between a full electric charge and a full 8.8-gallon gas tank, the car has a range of 420 miles. According to the EPA, this can save you $5,000 in fuel costs over a five-year period.

Charging time is still long, a bit longer than some people might find comfortable. It takes 4.5 hours on a dedicated 220-volt charger, and up to 13 hours on an ordinary household current. But the battery is guaranteed for eight years or 100,000 miles, and Chevrolet will replace it free of charge if there are any problems.

The all-electric Nissan Leaf remains the best-selling EV on the market. The 2016 version, introduced in September, is likely to keep it there. Buyers will have the option of a 30 kWh battery, boosting the car’s range to 107 tailpipe-free miles. The Leaf is also cheap. Priced at $29,000, it can be had for $21,500 with the $7,500 federal tax credit thrown in. There are further tax credits in some states, reducing the price even more. There are larger models that still can be had for less than $30,000 with the federal tax credit.

All this was overshadowed, however, by last week’s introduction in Fremont, Calif., of the much-delayed Tesla Model X, which is now going to sell for $120,000. As auto writer Lawrence Ulrich pointed out, such a car obviously isn’t aimed at the masses. Instead, Elon Musk seems to be aiming at the very upper end of the market with the Bentleys and the Lamborghinis.

Those Nissan Leafs, Chevrolet Volts and hybrids from Ford or Toyota? Those cars are actually addressing the need to bring affordable electrification to the masses, but they tend to get a collective yawn from the media.

Even more irresponsibly, some continue to report Tesla’s increasingly vaporous claims on the Model 3 as a fait accompli. That’s the smaller sedan originally slated to arrive next year, priced at $35,000 to compete against the Nissan and Chevy. Yet Musk cautioned that if you order a Model X today, it won’t show up in your driveway for up to 12 months. That would seem to kick the Model 3 even further down the supercharging road.

So while the Volts and Leafs and Ford Focuses continue to make progress in small increments, Musk and his visions of an all-electric future grab all the attention. Only last week, Musk was in the headlines again when the story emerged that Apple is starting to hire away engineers from Tesla. “They haver hired people we’ve fired,” Musk said in an interview with a German newspaper, adding that Apple is the “Tesla Graveyard.”

It may not have had much significance, but there was another incident in California last week that might speak to the present state of affairs. On the streets of Mountain View, a Tesla rear-ended a Google self-driving vehicle. All the details weren’t clear yet, but it seemed to be the Tesla driver’s fault.

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