Chevrolet Bolt Versus 2015 Chevy Volt – Real-World Efficiency Comparison Test – Video

2 weeks ago by Steven Loveday 25

First of all, to say that this Chevrolet Bolt owner is thoroughly impressed with his new car, would be a severe understatement. He is a worthy source as well, because he previously drove voth a Chevrolet Volt and a Ford C-Max Hybrid.

He takes his Bolt on an 89.3 mile route, most of which is freeway driving. The Bolt uses a total of 22.2 kWh for the trip (meaning that about 240 miles of total range is expected). By his estimates, his 2015 Volt used 10.5 kWh and about a gallon and a quarter of gas for the same route.

The Chevrolet Bolt is getting an average of 4 miles per kWh

The Chevrolet Bolt is getting an average of 4 miles per kWh

Video Description via YouTube channel host and new Chevrolet Bolt owner News Coulomb:

This represents an A to B to C to A trip. About 70 miles were driven at 65 to 70 MPH, and the remaining 20 miles in mixed city/highway (45 to 55 MPH).

2015 Chevy Volt over the same route uses 10.5 kWH and ~1.25 gallons of gas.


With everything considered, he explains that there would be no way possible (barring any super severe conditions) that he would be able to get the Bolt to need a charge prior to 200 miles. His driving has been in California in hilly and mountainous areas, and the car has experienced overnight cold soak. He said that unless he broke major speed laws, the Bolt will easily exceed its EPA-estimated 238-mile range and then some. As always, your results may vary.

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26 responses to "Chevrolet Bolt Versus 2015 Chevy Volt – Real-World Efficiency Comparison Test – Video"

  1. SparkEV says:

    89.2 miles taking 22.2 kWh is only 4 mi/kWh. Then entire 60 kWh would be 240 miles.

    I recently took SparkEV on 70 MPH average speed from 80% to 10% battery capacity for 500 ft elevation gain (ie, up hill), and it was 4.4 mi/kWh. It seems Bolt is not as efficient as SparkEV on highway despite having the same highway MPGe rating.

    Interestingly, 4.4 mi/kWh at 70 MPH is pretty spot-on in my range polynomial blog post estimate for 2014 SparkEV even though I have 2015.

    1. Spider-Dan says:

      Doesn’t the Bolt have significantly more passenger and cargo space than the Spark EV?

      1. SparkEV says:

        Yes, but EPA highway MPGe rating is the same for Bolt and SparkEV, and I’m just pointing out that real world at 70 MPH seem to be better for SparkEV than Bolt.

        Bolt is rated higher city MPGe than SparkEV, and I wonder how true that might be.

        1. ModernMarvelFan says:

          Bolt is larger and heavier. Both are negatives at higher speed (70mph) which is much higher than what EPA testing is done at.

    2. Zoomit says:

      If we’re considering EPA Highway Range divided by Usable Battery Capacity, my math says the ’15-16 Spark EV exceeds all vehicles on the road today by a decent margin.

      4.2 mi/kWh: Spark EV
      3.9 mi/kWh: IONIQ Electric
      3.8 mi/kWh: i3 BEV (60Ah)
      3.7 mi/kWh: i3 BEV (94Ah)
      3.6 mi/kWh: S 60D, S 75D, S 90D, LEAF (30), Bolt EV

      1. SparkEV says:

        Well, EPA is mystery meat, so I don’t know how much to trust those numbers.

        But how are you getting those values? AFAIK, exact usable capacities aren’t well known. I get slightly higher values for all cars using IEV data (full battery, not just usable). Though the order is similar to yours (SparkEV 4.5 followed by IoniqEV 4.4), Bolt is 238/60 = about 4 mi/kWh, so it’s lot higher than i3 (3.7) and Leaf (3.6).

        1. Zoomit says:

          Mystery meat?? Well the EPA numbers are a very repeatable series of tests. I wasn’t predicting what energy would be used in the real world (although I think the EPA numbers are representative). I was just trying to rank their efficiencies.

          The EPA highway range and assumed usable capacities are…

          Spark EV: 75/18 (I measured my MY15 at 17.7 but 18 is close enough for this list)
          IONIQ Electric: 110/28
          i3 BEV (60Ah): 72/18.8
          i3 BEV (94Ah): 102/27.2
          S 60D: 226/62.4
          S 75D: 265/72.6
          LEAF (30): 95/26.6
          Bolt EV: 217/60

          1. JyBicycleOrTesla says:

            Ioniq is 124/28=4.43

          2. SparkEV says:

            I was using EPA range, and didn’t know they have separate highway range. How did you get those? SparkEV using “well-known” EPA only range would be 82/18=4.56 mi/kWh.

            2014 with bigger battery has same EPA range rating as 2015 with smaller battery. Tests done by many people show that 2014 has more range, and even 2015 easily beat EPA figure. That’s why I call EPA range mystery meat.

            1. Zoomit says:

              I used EPA Highway Range because I was replying to your comment about efficiency at 70 mph. The EPA data is here:

  2. vdiv says:

    54 deg F, climate turned off, and no energy spent on battery conditioning according to the Bolt display in the video. Overnight cold soak?! It’s a balmy mere 17 deg F here with windchills in the single digits and a nice 10 mph NW breeze. That’s a cold soak.

  3. hank grosel says:

    Wonder how bolt would do on my 75 mile commute? My volt uses .2 gallons during summer getting 55 to 60 miles on charge. However, winter here is about 5 months long. In addition to hills we have snow and ice with high temps in Jan and Feb of about 12 degrees. Avg wind is 8 to 12 with gusts to 40 as normal.

  4. Bill Howland says:

    Re: battery conditioning, its been a bit cool around here lately (car is under 15 deg most of the time) and I notice in my ELR, that until the battery heater runs (2-3 kw) for 30 minutes at these temperatures at which point it shuts off, for the first 10 minutes the battery is so cold that the ELR reverts to ‘hold’ mode automatically. In other words, if the battery is too cold the car will REFUSE TO DISCHARGE, and will use the engine for all its power.

    1. unlucky says:

      As to your ELR running the engine when cold, Volts do that too. It does so at 20F I think. You can lower it to 10F on the Volt I think. I forget the setting. WRVoltec was tweeting it out when it started to get quite cold in Ontario a month and a half back.

      Maybe this relates and you can find a similar setting on your car. That is if you even want to.

      1. mike w says:

        We have a 2016 Volt. the setting options are 15F and 35F . I can not speak for other MY

  5. pjwood1 says:

    “no way possible…the Bolt to need a charge prior to 200 miles. His driving has been in California”

    That nut is a comic strip to many of us, right now.

  6. unlucky says:

    My experience has been a little different.

    It seems like it would be easy to get 238 miles around town.

    But on the highway, the only way to get over 220 miles would be either to drive below 60mph or turn the climate control off (you can leave the air circulation on, just turn off the heat/AC button on the screen). Alternately, it would work if the temperature is just so temperate that the climate control is effectively off even though it is on.

    I found that driving on highways in 50F rain at 65mph and across some hills (little I can do to fix that) the predicted range dropped to 215ish miles if the climate control was on. And driving with it on seemed to confirm this. If I turned it on, the figures would pop up.

    Another note: if you have the instrument cluster in the most busy-looking mode where it gives a max and min range as well as a discharge/charge rate, you will notice the thin line left of the range indicator. It is the grey C shaped line on the left in this pic:

    That seems to be a trendline of the predicted range figure from your driving. While the wide green bar is a slow moving predication. So if the green bar shows (say) 185 miles and you have a line upward from the center then that means you are currently doing better than the efficiency that is being used to predict the range and if you continue to do so, the predicted range will improve. If the line is downward it means you are doing worse than the prediction says and you can expect the prediction to trend downward.

    Finally, to compare this to a LEAF, I say the climate control affects the range more on this car than on the LEAF. Maybe that is because the numbers are so much bigger. On an 80 mile LEAF if the climate robs you 10% then you lose 8 miles. On a 200 mile Bolt if you lose 10% it is 20 miles. Or it might be because the climate control seem to actually work in this car. The 2013 (and later) LEAF cheats badly. I put a thermometer in my car as I drove to work and even though I had the climate set to 74F, the passenger seat never got much above 60F. And the climate control was noticeably not even trying at that point, it was barely blowing any air/heat. The LEAF is a cold car inside in the winter, it is clearly cheating to save on energy. I don’t get that impression of the Bolt. At least not so far.

  7. Have any women at all weighed in here? Is the interest in electric cars and their “real world” (whatever that is!) efficiency that gender based? … I think my 2012 Volt is the best car on the road, despite its flaws. I could drive it to Patagonia if I so desired. Could the Bolt do that? Or the Tesla? Not sure if Mexican deserts have charging stations… Seriously, if you gear heads want a sagacious call on which cars are”best”, solicit a woman’s opinion. They get things that we don’t.

    1. SparkEV says:

      If woman’s criteria is all access, she’d say camel is the best form of transportation since it can go where no car can. If motorized, she’d say motorcycles. Clearly, woman’s criteria isn’t all access.

      Your assertion that woman is somehow magically different is plain wrong. If you take a criteria and looked at objectively, gender doesn’t matter. Subjectively, we all have our biases and again, gender doesn’t matter.

  8. Terawatt says:

    And once again we get a perfect illustration of how ridiculously inefficient event a range-extended PHEV like Volt is, compared to a pure BEV.

    10 kWh + 1.25 gallons of gasoline, you say? How about converting everything into the same unit, so we can more easily compare? Then we have

    Volt: 10 kWh from battery + 46 kWh from gas = 56 kWh.

    Bolt: 22.2 kWh.

    So the Bolt could make the same trip *twice* using 20% *less* energy than the Volt.

    Don’t get me wrong. The Volt is one of few PHEVs that I consider acceptable. But even that is a very wasteful thing compared to a BEV.

    1. vdiv says:

      So what it seems what you are saying is that the BoltEV just obsoleted the Volt. Next on the agenda for GM is the VoltEV electric, plugin, no gas 🙂

  9. Terawatt says:

    It seems LG are pretty good at making cars, considering it’s their first. Or maybe making EVs is pretty easy? :p

    1. vdiv says:

      Not easy, and let’s give GM Korea a little bit of credit for providing the “car” parts and doing all the car testing/certifications, etc. to put it on the market.

      1. Terawatt says:

        Yeah, let’s! I was actually trying to be satirical! A lot of folks here seem to think LG did all the work here – I don’t think so. But they do know electronics and it’s not surprising they get it right on the first attempt. Electronics isn’t like ICE tech, and can be designed and simulated very precisely on computers. Mercedes-Benz meanwhile is spending three billion on developing a new diesel engine..!

        1. vdiv says:

          Nuts! These people just don’t get it.

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