Crash Cuts Short 200-Mile Cold Weather Attempt In Chevrolet Bolt


Chevrolet Bolt EV

Chevrolet Bolt EV

Though the highlight (or lowlight) of this particular test drive of the Chevrolet Bolt by the Detroit Free Press’ Mark Phelan may indeed be the fact that it contained the first reported crash of the Bolt (see images here) our focus will not be on the wreckage, but rather on the achievement made by Phelan in his limited time behind the wheel.

Chevy Bolt

Chevy Bolt

It was just a minor accident anyways, so let’s move on…

Phelan set out to drive some 200 miles in what he described as “bitterly cold temperatures that sapped its battery’s charge.” And range is what we’ll focus on here.

Phelan stated:

“I’d covered about 90 miles in the Bolt that day and had more than 100 left, according to a charge gauge that had proven a bit conservative as I drove from downtown Detroit to Ann Arbor and back, with a few detours thrown in.”

“The range meter — the EV equivalent of a fuel gauge — predicted 192 miles when I picked up the fully charged Bolt from General Motors HQ on the Detroit Riverfront. I was disappointed, but not surprised, given bitterly cold temperatures around 11 F and cutting winds blowing in uninterrupted from Manitoba.”

“In that context, seeing a predicted range less than 20% below the EPA figure was a pleasant surprise.”

Chevrolet Bolt EV Interior

Chevrolet Bolt EV Interior


Phelan adds that he kept the cabin “comfortably warm” during his drives, but had the fan set on low and relied mostly on the seat and steering wheel heaters to stay warm. Quoting Phelan:

“I was comfortably warm the whole day. I increased the HVAC’s temperature setting occasionally to clear the windows and warm my toes, but the seat and steering wheel heaters worked so well that I turned them off a couple of times when I grew too warm.”

In mixed highway and city driving, Phalan immediately noticed that the Bolt is much more efficient off the expressway.

Phelan concludes his write up with this:

“By the time I got to Detroit’s 150-year-old farmer’s market in Eastern Market, I had covered 90 miles and had a projected 103 left.”

“My initial goal of wringing 200 miles from a single charge of the batteries seemed within reach, despite the battery-draining cold.”

It’s at this time when the Bolt got rear-ended. Phelan closes:

“POW!” “Crunch!” “Tinkle” went the Bolt’s rear left corner…”

“I’ll never know if I could have hit 200 miles on a charge, but I’ll always believe I could have.”

Several times in his review and others we’ve covered in this past, it’s noted that the Bolt’s estimated range remaining is generally on the pessimistic side, meaning that if it said 103 projected miles left, Phelan could most likely have driven well over that amount to hit his target of 200, despite the bitter cold.

Source: Freep

Categories: Chevrolet, Crashed EVs

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67 Comments on "Crash Cuts Short 200-Mile Cold Weather Attempt In Chevrolet Bolt"

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He would’ve made the 200 miles.

Basically this is the scoop:

30-40% less range possible at around 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Many people have learned to not rely on the GOM.

I find the Chevy range estimator is pretty reliable. By providing a low and a high estimate (in addition to an ‘expected’ estimate) youd have to be intentionally trying to trick it.

I believe the way it works is it looks at the previous several days of energy efficiency. Based on your current energy usage, It lets you know as you are driving if you are more likely to hit the high estimate or low estimate.

The only time it is ever off base is right after a sudden spike or drop in temperature. But then it begins to accurately predict again based on the new normal.

+1 I’d rather GM than Tesla dashboard range estimator, whose constant over-stated assumption of “no HVAC” is what gave us “The Broder”.

Are you seeing some of the new dash display shots of recent Tesla stories? I think I saw ones post Easter Egg on the latest release for the P100DL that showed more info!

Maybe tweet Elon to show 3 numbers: current average based range potential, worst case range potential at all loads on last and 15 mph faster, and heat/AC on full.

I only really rely on the GOM when I’m less than 10-15% battery. As EV’s spread in our culture, the interpretation of the GOM will become common knowledge.

i tend to agree, until you run out the range under a given set of conditions, the “GOM” can be unreliable. just the other day, i was getting just over 2 miles/kWh but the predicted range for the remainder of the available charge was based on a a guestimate of 3 miles/kWh.

in the case of this article, i think the writer might have set up conditions to artificially inflate the mileage that you can get under cold temperature conditions. it is important to note that the driver set his interior temperature to 62 degrees. you’ll have to decide for yourself if that is a reasonable interior temperature setting, but i doubt that many people would actually use such a temperature setting. i have never found reliance on seat heating to be sufficient (my Volt does not have a heated steering wheel); i suppose it would be enough to keep me from freezing, but it would not be enough for me to feel comfortable.

I totally agree. EV enthusiasts in general tend to be overly optimistic about cold weather range because they do things that normal drivers would never do, such as driving with low heat and cracking open the windows to de-fog.

I always drive my Volt at 72 degrees, comfort mode, with auto-defrost on, because that’s what I would do in an ICE. The winter range isn’t quite as impressive, but I know that if I convince somebody to get an EV, they won’t be shocked the first time it gets down to 0f outside.

I hate it when people leave out major details like what happened in the crash.

The source article said a Ford Excursion hit the Bolt’s rear driver-side corner.

So it looks like FORD is trying to crush the competition like they did with Tesla SEX when they would not let Tesla use the model E.

Did the Ford Excursion driver remain at the scene of the accident or did he bolt? 😀

I was SHOCKED to see they didn’t show a CURRENT picture of the bolt. Wire we talking like this.

insideevs generally provides links to their information sources. all you had to do was click on the link at the bottom of the post to read the article for yourself.

He started with 192 miles showing. After 90 miles, he has 103 left. If nothing else, the meter is consistent. Given what I know about the Volt, I would assume it is fairly accurate and just a touch conservative. I believe he would have made 200 miles.

I’d say so too that he would have made it, and it is also interesting that he said he had to turn down the seat heater since it was getting uncomfortably warm (at 11 deg F outside), along with the heater on LOW, but presumably on COMFORT, not on ECON.

This would have been the time to look at the ‘battery conditioning’ screen, to see how much heating was needed – of course, depending on whether the car was just done charging when he left, or had been sitting outside in the cold in 11 deg F weather (if the relative humidity was high, this will almost be cold enough to make your lungs hurt).

So nice to see the media (a Detroit one at that) positively reporting on EVs.

Nice and gentle driving.
Minimal use of cabin heating.
No attempts to show the EV being towed.

Unfortunately the comments section is filled with the usual hate, FUD and misinformation.

Alternate Facts

Bitter cold? Try -25c and I’ll know what my winter range would be.

11F (-12C) is a very cold temperature and is a good data point for getting a realistic measure of the cold weather performance of the Bolt. my main objection to the test is that the driver had the cabin temperature set to 62 degrees, which i think is unrealistically low.

Good point. while 11*F is cold we just had a stretch where it never got above zero for two weeks. Anyway, everyone knows cold kills range. But to your point, really cold really kills it.

I wouldn’t mind BEVs coming with ethanol heaters for those really cold days, saving those electrons for additional range. Most people would still be driving a ZEV >90% of the time. But I’m sure that the BEV purists/zealots would disagree.

You could always rig up a electric cycle battery to a cab fan heater, they are about 1Kw, and set it against the windscreen to keep it clear.

Both the volt and elr have 10% Ethanol and 90% gasoline heaters when it is cold outside.

-25C is damn cold and doesn’t apply to most of the USA. And as someone that grew up in MN, it doesn’t really apply there except on rare days and in the middle of the night. (Especially now . . . . 30 years ago it was colder but not now.)

Reduced range is still better than a dead battery or a frozen engine that won’t start.

Has anyone figured out how to get the Bolt to display charge percentage? That damm estimate thing tells me nothing, and it keeps changing (its idea of total range). This morning it was “full”, but estimated 183 miles (its been steadily declining since leaving the dealer).

My Leaf told me total charge in terms of bars in addition to the estimate. This is a Bolt annoyance.

Others: (Just to round things out)

1. The USB link to my cellphone (required to get maps/auto mode) does not charge worth a damm. The front (“cigarette lighter”) socket DOES, but does not link the maps on the phone.

2. The map usb link mode is great (Google maps on the main display at last). But it disables the phone for ANY other use besides answering calls. As in for instance you cannot see plugshare to search for chargers. Leading me to unplug it, or ask to borrow someone else’s phone in the car.

AS long as you fully charged then like the Volt you can use Energy Info to see the kWh used since your last full charge.'s%20Manual.pdf
See page 131.

To view Energy Detail, Energy
Usage Score, and Efficiency History,
touch Energy on the infotainment
display, and then touch Information.
Energy Detail shows kWh used.
As long as you have a rough figure for total usable you’d be able to work things out from there.

By bars, are you referring to how the Spark EV has the 8 bars that go from “full” to “empty” depending on the state of charge?

I haven’t driven the Bolt EV yet, but on the spark there are several display options for viewing the speedometer/range. Try changing them to see if one has this option?

I believe you can also view it on the center screen by going to the energy usage screen which shows the flow of energy from the battery to the motor. This also has a multi-bar gauge which shows what the state of charge is for the battery.

As far as the range, I think you can set the car to charge to either 80% or 100% overnight. I do not know how to access it on the Bolt but I’m pretty sure it is there. But you might check this to see if it is set to 80% by default.

Having looked into this there is not an 80% setting, I had only read someone speculate that there might be. My mistake! You can limit the charge time over night, but it wouldn’t be set by default.

But the bolt does have the gauge on the “Power Flow” screen as I mentioned.

The Bolt manual talks about a “hilltop reserve” setting that prevents a full charge if you are charging at the top of a hill. Didn’t say what percentage that stops at though.

Good point, it looks like first owners are reporting 87-89% state of charge when in Hilltop Reserve. If an owner doesn’t intend to drive a long distance, this might be good for prolonging the battery health? So I’ve heard anyways.

But it wouldn’t be set by default so I doubt that would be effecting his range estimate unless he specifically changed the overnight charging options.

Ingenious! I live at the top of a long, steep hill and I absolutely hate driving down it with a full charge and no regen. Unfortunately Nissan removed the option to limit a full charge to 80%

How did GM get that past the EPA? The EPA punished Nissan and decimated their range ratings when the LEAF had the same 80% charge option.

Aren’t there 20 battery “bars” on the Energy Flow screen, with each corresponding to 5% of the usable state of charge?

This was on bolt forum, the left side of the front display is green with 20 bars displaying percentage. Its not obvious like the Spark, but it is there.

Scott can you explain how to setup Google maps using USB link so it displays on car’s screen? I didn’t know you could do this . I understand you don’t like the limitations but better than nothing ?

You USB plug it, make sure that the phone is set to “file transfer mode”, and then basically start answering a lot of “yes thats ok” screens on your phone. It sets itself up for the most part.

In my Volt I simply use Android Auto when I plug into USB.

On the home screen there is an icon for Android Auto and when you touch it takes you to an Android Auto home screen where you can select Map icon which brings up Google Maps. In park you can enter in addresses or you can enter addresses while driving with voice.

Why not plug it into the lighter power and then pair w/BT?

BT does not get you maps mode. That only works in USB.

There are 20 bars on the left hand side of the screen representing 5% each. That’s pretty good precision but you cannot see a numerical representation.

I don’t find the map disables the phone, but if you use the phone for something else the map image does disappear. That’s inconvenient, but turn by turn directions do continue to be played as audio. And when you go back to the map it is fully up to date. Well, it’s that way on an iPhone. That functionality comes from the software on your phone so it’s possible it’s much worse on Android. The dealer implied to me that the Android one was worse in some ways but didn’t get into it. If you are using Google Maps you are using Android.

I don’t have the charge problem, I’ll take a look at it today. Maybe I just haven’t noticed.

link to story

“POW!” “Crunch!” “Tinkle” went the Bolt’s rear left corner, shredding the fender and shattering the taillights.

see photo ..light damage..still driveable

Unless you drive it until it dies on the side of the road I don’t see how someone can claim that it truly couldn’t have gone 200 miles.

I’m getting more and more convinced that this will be my next car. Cold weather range has been one of my last doubts.

…but the Ampera-e version won’t come to this corner of the world before 2018.

So my travel experience over the weekend: We went from San Jose to Point Reyes, then to overnight at Bodega bay. Its 117 miles to point Reyes, another about 50 to Bodega Bay from there. We left fully charged, then I got the 30 minute “standard charge” behind the Tesla dealership on highway 101 at about 130 miles of charge remaining. At point Reyes station, we checked out the supercharger, which I know is there, but not on plugshare. Closed and locked, looked like for some time now. Sad. The next day in Bodega Bay we had 77 miles left, with 14 miles needed to make the Sebastopol DCFC. Took about 10 miles off to tour the area, then off onto the highway to the charger. Well, Bodega highway turns out was underwater. About 50 miles left at that point. No issue, detour, but was getting worried by that point. At the Lucky DCFC charger, had to charge two 30 minute sessions, since that is all evgo allows. I called them and bitched, told them Bolts cannot charge in 30 minutes. They said “just start it again”. Thanks a lot. 2 charges later and 1 hour, I think we had… Read more »

Congrats Scott!

How about penning it as an post, together with some additional numbers and pictures? I assume Jay will be thrilled, personal adventures tend to be popular and original feature stories.

You can email him at (address is in the ‘About’ link).

Love the story hommie!! I have no doubt the Bolt can make those types of trips.
It also underscores the necessity of the DCFC charge port. Should be standard and not a ~$700 “Option”.


If you’re going to pull a roadtrip like that with the car and want the option, get the option. Don’t assume every single other person is going to have the same use cases. Some of us won’t need it and appreciate being able to save $700.

This is a good start (200 miles in light winter, not the crash).

Twice the range, half the price or preferable both will really get us there.

200 mile $35k BEVs can probably take us to 10-15% of sales.

haha, I hope to never live in a place where minus 12 degrees Celsius is considered “light winter” 🙂

The winters are not what they used to be though. -12 is pretty comfy, when it drops below -20 it is time to be dressed properly.

Would be nice to know more about the circumstances of the accident. The author does say he had the Bolt in low to increase regen which allows for single peddle driving – do the brake lights come on during this type of driving when you take your foot off the accelerator? I know my FF EV slows down pretty rapidly when I put it in low, but regen is not enough to allow for single peddle driving. Still it is a bit dangerous during city driving.

I have seen it demonstrated in a few owner videos that the brake lights do come on when the car is in ‘L’ mode / regenerating. This one was posted on insideEVs a few days ago and he tests both the paddle and the L mode without using the brake.

I know the Spark EV does turn on the brake lights when you are in low and regen is happening. I suspect the Bolt does the same but not sure as I didn’t check this when test driving. The Bolt manual does say it will turn the brake lights on when you regen after having activated regen on demand.

Since he was hit in the corner, and not directly in the back, it probably wasn’t related to braking/regen. More likely somebody changing lanes and straying out of their lane.

Or, on an optimistic note, maybe it was a driver who was excited to see a Bolt for the first time and was distracted. 🙂

The road is icy. Most likely just a common case of the Ford following a bit to close. Not worth speculation on this.

A little too common. I wish Excursion (and other SUV) drivers would realize their vehicle is heavy and won’t stop in a short distance.

battery socks

Why do rear ending car crashes happen so often in the USA? It must occur like 4x as frequently per capita than where I live

It usually sounds like this:

” LOL!! This cat video on my smart phone is so funny!! I’ve got to text this to my BFF!!”


We have the third-most cars per capita of any country (city-states of San Marino and Monaco have us beat). We also travel more miles in those cars, because some 75% of our population lives in rural or suburban areas where things are arbitrarily far apart because we have a lot of land and little respect for it.

So basically everything car-related happens more often here.

Just Bolt on a new rear end!

I dive long range, almost daily in my tesla.

Coldest trip to date was -26 to -28 c.
Left with a Full charge of 420 km. Drove 220 km, at 110 km to 130 km, I had the heat on high arrived with 13 km left on arrival.

obviously they were cheating by being pushed by a ford /end sarcasm