Chevrolet Bolt – Lessons Learned From Long Distance Winter Road Trip

Chevrolet Bolt EV

JAN 22 2018 BY BRIAN R 123

Chevrolet Bolt EV

Charging my Chevrolet Bolt EV at a Tesla Destination charger via adapter.

Driving the Chevrolet Bolt EV on a long winter road trip requires compromise and patience.

I just passed my one year anniversary owning my Bolt EV, and during that first year, I put over 15,000 emission-free miles on it. Rarely being affected by range anxiety due to the  238-mile range, the Bolt has met about 99% of my daily driving needs. That being said, there is that remaining 1% of the time I have found my Bolt EV doesn’t quite cut it in one area: long-distance road trips in the winter.

*Editor’s note: This post was originally published on bro1999’s blog.

Twice this winter, I have taken road trips with the family in tow that exceeded the Bolt’s 238-mile range. I detailed the first trip in a previous blog entry, and the biggest takeaway was that a cold HV battery could significantly reduce fast charging speeds on unsuspecting owners. With knowledge from that first trip fresh in my mind, I completed another road trip (this time a 420-mile roundtrip trek to the Big Apple!). Up until a day before the trip, I was still debating whether to roll the dice and take the Bolt EV, or just suck it up and burn some gas and take my 2012 Volt. In the end, I decided to take the Bolt and give it another chance on a long distance winter road trip. My biggest worry was the aforementioned reduced fast charging speed due to cold HV battery issue, but it turned out on this trip it was a non-issue. However, other issues were experienced.

Chevrolet Bolt EV

Volt or Bolt EV?

In preparation for the trip, I did everything I could to mitigate the “too cold for peak DCFC” battery temperature issue. After charging up my Bolt to 100% overnight, I turned on my Bolt and turned on the heater on and let the it “warm up” for 30 minutes before we departed. By doing this, it helps save energy for the road by getting the heater (and cabin) warmed up so the Bolt doesn’t spend the first few miles of driving using extra energy getting the heater up to temperature. Plus, I found (via my OBDII adapter and TorquePro app) that the Bolt will keep the HV battery temperature between 50-60F when ambient temps are freezing while it is turned on and plugged in (heats to 60F, then kicks back on when the HV battery drops to 50F).

Chevrolet Bolt EV

Road tripping in a Bolt EV…is it feasible?

Once we were ready to hit the road, my Bolt registered 168 miles of estimated range, a far departure from the nearly 300-mile estimates I had been observing during the warmer summer months. The cold impacts range on all EVs; even six-figure Teslas are not immune. As New York City was 205 miles away, at least one fast-charging stop would be required. During the summer, I would have had plenty of range to make it to the CCS stations on the New Jersey Turnpike (NJTP) at the Joyce Kilmer Rest Area (https://www.plugshare.com/location/138286). However, being 168 miles away and having 168 miles of estimated range staring me in the face, that math told me another pit stop would be good.

Fortunately, there are two rest areas near the MD/DE border than have multiple, FREE CCS fast-charging stations. Since we still hadn’t eaten lunch, the hour drive to the Chesapeake House Travel Center (https://www.plugshare.com/location/134788) would be a perfect place to stop to top off the battery and sit down for lunch. I noted that my HV battery temperature was 59F when we left the driveway, and the ambient air temp was 28F. After arriving at the first CCS charging stop, my estimated range had dropped down to 115 miles, and my battery temp had dropped to 57F. I plugged into the 100 amp max (booo) DCFC and observed the station was outputting max charge rates from the start.

After eating lunch with the family, we returned to the Bolt. By my calculations, it should have charged to nearly full. However, when I walked up to my Bolt, it was not charging. Uhoh. It turns out that, despite not being an EVgo station that is notorious for 30-minute shutoffs, my Bolt had stopped charging after 30 minutes. Thus, I had “wasted” 30 minutes of charging time. I was fairly annoyed, as there was no indication of the 30-minute shutoff, and I had only charged up to 150 miles. Luckily, my next DCFC stop was only 108 miles away, so I still had plenty of range to make the 108-mile drive.

Chevrolet Bolt EV

Only gained 35 miles in one hour (thank you 30-minute auto shut-off)

When I arrived at my next stop (Joyce Kilmer rest area), I rolled into the charging stations that happen to be collocated with Tesla Superchargers. Three Teslas were plugged in when I plugged myself into one of the CCS stations. I had arrived with 42 miles of estimated range remaining, and since my destination was only 39 miles away, a 30-minute charge was all that was needed. After another quick restroom stop, I managed to charge up to 94 miles of range, so it was off on the final leg to NYC!

Chevrolet Bolt EV

30-minute fast-charging pitstop on the NJTP

We arrived in NYC, 39 miles later, with 60 miles of range remaining. It was now 6 PM, so we went to find a place to eat dinner. After finding what is likely the most expensive parking lot in the city ($47 for 2+ hours of parking! Dafuq!) that had a charging station, I had to convince the parking attendant several times that the Blink station inside the garage actually worked. After a phone call to his boss, he was finally convinced it worked. Turns out in the 7 months that guy had been working there, no one had ever asked about the charging station. Of course, being a Blink station, it was priced at a NYC-esque 49 cents/kWh, but as beggars can’t be choosers, I begrudgingly plugged in and headed off to dinner, which was luckily only a couple of blocks away. We discovered an Amazon bookstore on the way!

Chevrolet Bolt EV

Parking ain’t cheap in NYC. In fact, nothing is.

Sayonara Barnes and Noble?

Two hours later after eating some amazing Korean BBQ (Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong…nom nom nom), I saw that the Blink station had added a whopping ~30 miles of estimated range, or 11 kWh of energy. Having plenty of range to make it back to the NJTP fast-charging stations, we parked the Bolt for the night and headed to the hotel for some rest.

Nom Nom Nom

After spending the next day exploring the city and seeing a Blue Man Group show, it was time to head home. The drive to the Molly Pitcher Service (https://www.plugshare.com/location/136391) was only 45 miles, so with over 80 miles of estimated range, we were all set.

After escaping horrific NYC traffic, we arrived at Molly Pitcher with 55 miles of range left. Home was 162 miles away, so I realized that I would need to log at least 2 full 30-minute charging sessions. While waiting for the Bolt to charge up, we entertained ourselves and the kids by watching some streamed TV shows using the Bolt’s unlimited 4G LTE wifi hotspot. After one hour of charging, the Bolt stated I had 131 miles of range. That was not nearly close to the 162-mile number to home, so it looked like one more fast charging stop would be needed before we made it home.

Curious if I could actually stretch the Bolt’s 131-mile estimated range 162 miles, I employed all range saving techniques I could think of. I reduced my speed to 5 under the 65 MPH speed limit, and I also toggled the heat on and off. I found that even if you turn off the HVAC in the Bolt, it will still blow warm air for several minutes until the heater cooled off. By utilizing these power saving techniques, I was actually able to get the “Max” number on the GOM to exceed the miles remaining to home. However, I decided this was one range test I was not willing to see to the end and topped off the Bolt for 15 minutes at the same MD rest area I stopped at to charge the prior day to ensure I had enough to make it home. Watching the range meter slowly tick up one mile at a time was borderline painful. With no range qualms, I took off for home like a bat out of hell.

Chevrolet Bolt EV

Bolt EV: Final trip stats

Chevrolet Bolt EV

Bolt EV: Final trip stats part 2

The 420-mile road trip was complete. After looking back at the trip and what I experienced, I came to the following conclusions:

  1. NYC destination charging SUCKS. I was fortunate to be able to charge that one time at the Blink station.
  2. 100 amp max CCS charging stations SUCK. The Bolt is capable of charging at ~55 kW peak rates on a yet non-existent 150+ amp CCS fast charging station, but even a 125 amp station would have cut down charging times some.
  3. The Bolt’s aggressive fast charging taper plain SUCKS. At around 50% SOC, the Bolt tapers currents from a theoretical max of ~55kW/150 amps down to 37 kW/100 amps. At ~70% SOC, the charging rate tapers again down to around 23 kW/60 amps. While not affected much by the 50% taper on this trip, the aggressive charge tapering is not optimal for road trips with multiple fast charging stops.
  4. Parking/driving in NYC SUCKS. I am actually strongly considering taking the Amtrak next time. While I love driving the Bolt, for peace of mind I may just take the train next time. This would hold true even if I owned a $160k Tesla. Actually, driving a Tesla in NYC would probably be even more migraine-inducing than a Bolt due to the Tesla’s massive size.
  5. CCS fast charging infrastructure is not “there” yet. While it was greatly improved over the last few years, it still does not compare to Tesla’s Supercharger network. I believe in a couple years, the CCS network will be close to catching up to Tesla’s SC network, but until then Tesla has the advantage. Of course, a gas car trumps any BEV when it comes to road tripping.

So to sum it all up, the Bolt is great for 99% of my driving needs, and likely covers the vast majority of needs of the average American. However, if you are thinking of taking a Bolt on a long distance road trip (especially in the winter), you should definitely plan meticulously (with a Plan A, and plans B and C in the back pocket) and consider whether you and your family can stomach the extra time it will take to complete a trip in an all-electric vehicle, Bolt or something else, along with potential charging pitfalls. The old saying “your mileage may vary” definitely applies.

P.S. There was one more thing I learned during my trip!

Indeed

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123 Comments on "Chevrolet Bolt – Lessons Learned From Long Distance Winter Road Trip"

newest oldest most voted

Good read Bro!!

Interesting to note:
” Plus, I found (via my OBDII adapter and TorquePro app) that the Bolt will keep the HV battery temperature between 50-60F when ambient temps are freezing while it is turned on and plugged in (heats to 60F, then kicks back on when the HV battery drops to 50F).”

I didn’t know that.

Steve

Shouldn’t that happen regardless of the car being on? I thought as long as it was plugged in it would do that.

I unplugged the Bolt, and the battery heater shut off. Makes sense the TMS would be more aggressive when plugged in. Don’t want to drain the battery excessively while unplugged.

Brian

Any idea how much this aggressiveness depends on available input power? For example, 120V/12A versus 240V/15A versus 240V/32A? Does the car constrain the power to the max available from the wall, or will it pull from the battery if it needs more?

Pushmi-Pullyu

I can’t answer the question, but just a bit of info related to the subject: There are reported cases where running the battery heater took so much of an L1 (120V/12A) charger’s power that the car didn’t charge the battery pack significantly even when sitting plugged in for several hours. So if — just speculating here, but if — GM/LG designed the Bolt EV not to run the battery heater if the car is plugged into a L1 charger (unless, perhaps, the pack was already full or nearly so), then that would make sense.

Both running the battery heater and charging the car should be no problem with an L2 charger.

SansIce

Thanks for posting. Interesting to hear all of the specifics.
I must say, as much as people continuously slam Tesla on this page (Chevy volt and bolt owners being the worst offenders along with the non-ev trolls) I am extremely annoyed that you guys gleefully use the Tesla charging network with your adapters with no sense of conscious. Look, that is theft. The charging network is a Tesla provided network designed for Tesla users. Merrily go on your Tesla slamming way and leave our network alone or go buy a Tesla.

VazzedUp

Huh? No where does he use a tesla charger, just a colocated CCS.

Michael Will

Yeah somebody got confused here, its not technically possible to use a DC fast charging supercharger (110kW) with a bolt. There are adapters to use the AC destination chargers, which could give you 6.6 to 11kW/h, and I don’t see an issue with that, tesla actually encourages adding L2 chargers next to destination chargers when they help businesses with their https://www.tesla.com/destination-charging program.

Steve

Read much?

ArkansasVold

https://www.tesla.com/charging-partners

I do not see on here how this could be considered theft. Tesla is not giving away these chargers for free. The place of business is paying for the chargers and providing the electricity as well. If the owner of the Tesla branded charger is fine with a non-Tesla charging there, it is not theft.

Fluke

Tesla does provide the chargers at no cost to the business owner and covers the installation cost. The property owner covers the electricity cost.

Pushmi-Pullyu

I think he’s confused. He thinks this Bolt driver was charging up at Tesla Superchargers — which isn’t physically possible.

Admittedly the caption for the photo above, reading “Charging my Chevrolet Bolt EV at a Tesla station via adapter”, could have been more specific. There would be a lot less confusion if it had specified “…a Tesla Destination Charger…” rather than “Tesla station”.

Tesla Destination Chargers, unlike Superchargers, are owned by the property owner, not by Tesla. The property owner — not Tesla — gets to decide who can or can’t use them.

Fluke

Actually, I was referring to the destination chargers. Similar to the Superchargers Tesla provides the equipment at no cost to the business owner (or at least they used to). This is somewhat vague in the link about destination chargers above, but I believe that is still the way they do it.

So should Tesla owners not use the Chademo stations Nissan paid for, or the CCS stations BMW paid for?

Does anyone get to use all the chargers VW is about to pay for?

Pushmi-Pullyu

Last I read, Tesla will provide up to two destination chargers for a location at no cost for the equipment. It’s not clear to me who pays for the installation; perhaps Tesla negotiates with the property owner for that.

But the property owner is responsible for paying for power and maintenance, and once installed, the Tesla Destination Charger is the property of the property owner — not Tesla. Accusing someone of “stealing from Tesla” simply isn’t appropriate here. If Tesla really didn’t want non-Tesla cars to charge at its Destination Chargers, they could easily restrict use to only cars which electronically identify themselves at Tesla cars, just as they restrict Supercharger use only to Tesla cars.

Gotta say, the snooty attitude here from certain Tesla car owners claiming it’s “stealing” for a non-Tesla driver to use a Tesla Destination Charger, unfortunately feeds into the narrative of Tesla owners being elite snobs.

It seems to me that Tesla intended its Destination Chargers to be used by anyone with a plug-in EV (and the proper adapter). Too bad some Tesla car owners are more selfish than Tesla is.

Dan

First, Tesla should be happy to sell some non tesla EV driver electricity so long as they make a profit from it. Brand specific chargers are STUPID even if necessary for Tesla in the beginning.

Second, this shows why a home charged PHEV of reasonable EV range is a far more sensible solution for those who are not TRUE BELIEVERS.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Tesla’s corporate policy is that any charging from its chargers should be profit-neutral. Tesla isn’t in the business of selling electricity at a profit.

More importantly, you’re ignoring the purpose of Tesla installing Destination Chargers. The installation of a Tesla Destination Charger is a partnership between Tesla and the hotel or other property owner. Tesla takes some pressure off its Supercharger network and makes it easier for Tesla drivers to make road trips; the hotel/property owner gets the advantage of making his business more attractive to BEV drivers.

That’s a win-win.

* * * * *

Climbing up on my soap box:

Looking at it as a zero-sum situation where Tesla “loses” if a non-Tesla plugs into a Tesla Destination Charger… seems to me to be an unfortunate symptom of the growing tribalism in our culture.

Let’s remember that the human species attained dominance of our world by people cooperating with each other to achieve common goals. Not by treating every situation as a zero-sum game!

Down off my soap box.

Jessica.ca

I’ve come across Tesla owners using an adapter on free non-Tesla chargers…and non-free ones.

I drive a Leaf in Québec, Canada and rarely use the heater. The heated seats and steering wheel plus a blanket on my knees are sufficient for local driving. Long distance is something else.

Dimitrij

That’s more or less how we drive the Bolt in cold weather – heated seats and steering wheel, often electric blanket and sometimes heating on 64F/18C, blowing into the footwell and onto the windshield.

Matter of fact, we got so used to pampering our behinds, the Bolt being the only car with heated seats, that we had to invest into 12V heated pads to have them in every car 🙂

Tesla’s business is that of promoting a switch from Driving an ICE vehicle, to driving an EV, and since Elon said other Auto Makers need to get involved, what makes you think Tesla Destination Chargers, often, but not always, are co-located with J1772’s that Tesla Bought, are ONLY FOR TESLA’S TO USE???

Sure, lots of folks knock Tesla and even more, Tesla Fans, but so what? This dude went through more Hell just to research this trip, personally! Plus, he didn’t use an ICE Vehicle for the trip! Be Thankful!

But push GM to make BETTER EV’s!

Dimitrij

Tesla’s “destination chargers” are not the same as the “superchargers”. I would guess they are just generic Level 2 EVSE’s with proprietary Tesla plugs. I don’t know if Tesla, after supplying these EVSE’s to the property owners, retains its ownership of the hardware, and/or stipulates that they can’t be used for other EV’s. I don’t think so, but I can be mistaken.

Consider this: assume you bought a Bolt, which does come with a little EVSE. It was given (sold? to you by Chevrolet to charge the Bolt. If someone – with your permission – recharges his Leaf with this EVSE, would it be stealing from Chevrolet?

scottf200

To be complete and for a comparison go to https://www.tesla.com/trips , Pick the Model 3, pick from Baltimore, MD to New York, NY. Add stops as needed. This is just a basic tool for a high level example. Several other tools available from your PC that take into account weather for example. Tesla Model 3 owners traveling would just put in NYC as their destination and the car would tell them where to stop and for how long.

SansIce

+1 – thank you Scott

Michael Will

The other really good free planning tool that does not require you to sign up for an account is https://evtripplanner.com which allows you to adjust ambient temperature and weight of load (i.e. driving alone vs full family with luggage).

Michael Will

You can select teslas, ford focus 2012 and leaf models to start with and configure them to your needs to make the trip planning more realistic. They really should add the Bolt, wonder what they need for that.

scottf200

A couple more free ones for the Teslas are:
a) https://evtripping.com/login/?next=/route/
b) https://abetterrouteplanner.com/

Sam

Good lessons learned. I’ve also driving a Bolt for over 15,000 miles and my experience is similar without the cold weather issues in sunny SoCal.

Bolt works great, don’t try to take it out of California because while you can make the trip on I-10 with energy saving steps having to use L2 and “slow” fast charging is so painful as to make the single trip the last trip with the Bolt to Phoenix.

If you can charge at home or at least avoid stupid expensive Blink the Bolt is wonderful.

Otherwise I can’t wait for my Model 3 so my EV serving 95% of my needs turns into 100%.

The main problem with Blink isn’t its price IMO, it’s that they often don’t work. It’s an away from home convenience service, not an at home equivalent. But I do concede that closer to the ~$0.30 price range would be better and compare to other providers who charge $2.00 an hour for Level 2.

Prices for DCFC on the other hand do average around $0.50. I’ve studied this and can post my research if anyone would like to see it.

Michael Will

Thats a problem I had with the 2015 VW eGolf I recently traded in for a tesla model 3 – the EVGo charger stations would only sometimes work, and at the time there was no app to know before you get there except hoping somebody noted it on plugshare.com. And unlike tesla superchargers, there are usually only 1 or 2 plugs available. often the CCS is paired with Chademo that leafs like to use all the time because there was a free-to-charge program for leafs.

There is a 20 stall supercharger going live in february in my hometown, which is helpful when you come from a long road trip and don’t want to be limited to slower charging at home on arrival, i.e. if you want to head out again for some reason.

Mark

How much did you get for your e-golf? I have a 2015 SEL that I need to get rid of soon with 30k miles, but still owe $15k on it. Wonder if I can sell it for close to that.

Michael Will

If it is the SEL then 15k should be possible. Check with Car-max also to see what they have as a trade-in value, supposed to be better than normal dealer trade in. https://www.kbb.com/ is Kelly blue book pricing it for your zip code

Vexar

100% Agree with you there. This line troubled me:
“fortunate to be able to charge that one time at the Blink station.”

I drove to Milwaukee once for a meeting with Johnson Controls, who makes parts for EVs in Motown. They had a Blink Charger out front. It was busted. I mean, that’s really saying something, isn’t it?

Great read, filled in about what how expected: possible, but definitely a pioneer experience. I look forward to news of 125+kW DC fast chargers and the cars that can handle that.

Here’s what I did nearly five years ago:
https://teslamotorsclub.com/tmc/threads/a-single-digit-holiday.64541/

menorman

Fortunately, DC fast charging should be coming to a LOT of forgotten corridors in CA this year, including I-10 out of the state, so you should be able to take that trip out to Phoenix again soon. (And I suspect that it might lead to a bump in AZ buyers coming to SoCal to complete their Bolt purchase too.)

Michael Will

Hopefully the dieselgate money will result in a better maintained charging station network with more than just two outlets per location.

vvk

Wow, interesting post. Thanks!

Tesla sure makes it far easier with the supercharger network. We have done multiple long (1000+ mile) trips and the car invariably waits for us. Typical top up is 20 minutes, which is barely enough time to go to the bathroom with our two little kids.

vvk

Also, if charging is interrupted, we get a notification via the Tesla app. Does GM not provide that with the Bolt?

vijay

yes the myCheverolet app does notify if charging is stopped or charging is finished.

vvk

User error, then 🙂

My Mychevy app didn’t tell me charging stopped. Of course the Mychevy/OnStar app is a completely different can of worms…

Good info. Thanks for the blog post and reposting here.

The expected digs at Tesla are present, but it wouldn’t be a bro1999 post without them! 😀

100 kW CCS stations do exist – Bjorn charged a 28 kWh Ioniq at ~65 kW from one! I’d love to see a Bolt charging, though with the aggressive taper I think it probably would only benefit the first 15 minutes at low SOC.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wb3gJ8fWW5g

It’ll be interesting to see if GM ever updates the Bolt to handle higher amp CCS

ziv

I hope so too, but GM has always been super conservative with their packs. Here is hoping they do it, though.

Thanks for getting your blog article here on Inside EVs Brian!!

I definitely wouldn’t want to go tripping in my LEAF unless there were at least two fast chargers per location. That’s really great that the Maryland House rest stop has 4 fast chargers and the NJTP service plazas do too.
I’ve had my fair share of fast chargers not working here on the PA Turnpike. Only one per location. Not good. Hopefully no later that 2020 we’ll get some HPFC (150+ kW) infrastructure on America’s first superhighway.

Doug Bostrom

Great article. Winter driving is sort of ignored by EV vendors; it’s not a good story.

The odd thing is, this describes our Volt pretty well. 99% of gas usage gone, the remaining odd trip depending on gasoline (or charger gymnastics, if it were a Bolt).

It’s true that taper charging sucks, from our perspective, but for the batteries we have today it’s a fact of life. Most readers here are aware of the underlying issues but (as with Apple’s recent collision of sensible engineering choices with customer imaginations) it seems as though communications could be improved.

fred

Some gratuitous swipes at Tesla.

$160k Tesla? I’m not familiar with that model.
“even six-figure Teslas are not immune”
“Tesla’s massive size”

Ever heard of the Tesla Model 3?

SansIce

+1

Bunny

What’s a roadster cost?
There’s gotta be a 160,000 dollar Tesla somewhere! lol

Sure! $160,000+…in Canada…Canadian $ at about 80 cents to the US$!

Pushmi-Pullyu

Actually, I was pleasantly surprised to see so few comments I would describe as a “gratuitous swipe” at Tesla; rather unexpected considering this person’s posting history here on InsideEVs.

He did point out that Tesla Superchargers make long road trips easier, and his comment:

“The cold impacts range on all EVs; even six-figure Teslas are not immune.”

…is actually both true and neutral towards Tesla.

I saw a P100D Model X in NYC. If that is not a $160k Tesla, it’s awfully close.

I’ve heard of a 1-2 year backlog for anyone trying to reserve one now.

Keith

“Ever heard of the Tesla Model 3?”

Heard of?, yes.

Actually seen in the wild despite there being 500k pre-orders, and promises of 5000 model 3s being delivered per week?, no.

Hurd of Elephants?
Sure!

Hurd of Model 3’s?
Not yet…just a Small Flock!
?

Get Real

I drive a Bolt and while DCFC makes it possible to drive beyond its range, at the present max of 50kw charging (due to the stations–some are even 22kw) its rather slow going and the prices are outrageous too.

The other issue I have encountered is all the DECFC in NorCal I have tried or even seen are all dual Chaedmo/CCCS and since only one can be used at a time you usually have to wait for a no charge to charge Leaf (or Leafs) to finish before you can even start your relatively slow DCFC session.

Major PITA.

Astros
It’s still much easier to road trip in a Bolt than a Leaf, though. A few months ago I took our Leaf on a 900 mile trip over two days of driving, and it was painful. On the first day we stopped 8 times for 30 minute DC charging sessions, and by the end of the day the battery had heated up to 11 out of 12 bars (in the red), and the Leaf would only draw 18kW from the 50kW chargers. On the second day we drove slightly below the speed limit to conserve range and were able to skip three charging sessions, but still heated the battery to 10 bars and only shaved 20-30 minutes off the first days’ time. The temperature was in the upper 50s for this trip, so I can only imagine how bad that would have been on the battery if we’d taken the trip in the summer, with no thermal management of the battery. Also, even if it feels like a limitation that the Bolt tapers above 50% charge, that’s still greater than the Leafs entire useable battery capacity! To be fair, the Leaf was only about half the cost of the Bolt… Read more »
Michael Will

Less than half if you buy used. My 2015 VW eGolf went for $15k private party sale, $13.5k dealer tradein, and it still had a good 82 mile range and it was in excellent shape when I traded it for a model 3 two weeks ago. Of course its a night and day experience to have the model 3 with its 315 mile range and extensive supercharging network, but as a second family car that is just driven to the train station close by and local shopping that is totally not needed, the used leafs and egolfs are just fine for that .

Astros

Yes, I think the used Leafs are probably the best deal out there, and five (and counting!) friends and family members of mine have bought one since I first got mine. My wife has a 30 mile commute that she occasionally has to do twice a day, and the 30kWh version is perfect for that. It even works fine for us for our 200-300 mile trips that we take fairly often, since the charging breaks line up pretty well with the stops we have to make anyway for the kids. But, trips longer than that get painful fast, once the repeated quick charges take a toll on the battery and the charging rate drops to much less than half!

Pushmi-Pullyu

“On the first day we stopped 8 times for 30 minute DC charging sessions, and by the end of the day the battery had heated up to 11 out of 12 bars (in the red), and the Leaf would only draw 18kW from the 50kW chargers.”

Yeah, I was reading just the other day a report from a driver in the UK, in a 30 kWh Leaf (so it was definitely one of the later MY cars with the so-called “lizard battery”) who reported his battery almost red-lining the temperature even when it was only in the 60’s outside, after only two DCFC sessions.

The problem with Leaf battery packs overheating doesn’t just affect long-term battery life, it also limits the ability to use en-route charging on long trips. 🙁

Michael Will

Good tips about charging up and preheating right before your trip to heat the battery and cabin and lose less range along the way. Also seat-heaters are more efficient than the AC, I used those a lot in the eGolf in the california ‘winter’.

Ron

Nice writeup. Just made a similar trip from Montgomery Co to Newark, Toms River and back. The cold definitely sucks!

Not sure how he missed the 30 minute countdown on the CCS charger though. I just reset for 2 sessions no problem. There’s also one on the nearby Maryland House, but it’s 60 minutes long.

stimpacker

Great write up!
Thanks for sharing, Bro1999.

So well written.
Blogger talks about trip planning, temp impact, charger location, charger access, charge rates, fees, time, BEV characteristics, pitfalls, etc.

Would have liked to hear a bit more about the experience sitting in the Bolt for so long with the family. Ride comfort, driver comfort, passenger space, trunk space, NVH, etc.

Dunno why some folks focused on the slight dig at Tesla. Any large sized vehicle will have difficulty in NYC. I take my small car to San Francisco for the very same reason (or even my motorcycle).

Again, great article.
Sick of those silly “my BEV made 1000 miles to nowhere by driving slooooow and charging with L2”. They actually do a disservice to EV adoption.

Thanks, Bro!

Bunny

+1

Brian

I’ve taken my family on a road trip of almost 700 miles to VT and back (not in the same day). No complaints about comfort from the wife or kids. The seat comfort issue has been blown way out of proportion, IMO. Yes, they are firm. And I can see how they might be uncomfortable for some. It’s just that those some dissatisfied owners are VERY vocal. And so now we constantly have people worried about the silly seats of all things.

If you are considering a Bolt, go test drive one and see which side you fall on.

stimpy

It’s not that the seats are firm, it’s that they are very narrow and poorly designed. The edges go vertical instead of a wide taper like most seats, and worse, that edge is sharp and inflexible.

Brian

“Poorly designed” is subjective. The seats hold me in place, even if I take a tight turn. In my old Leaf, I slid all over the place. And compared to most people I know, I would put my own “width” at about average.

It’s not what most people are used to for sure. And those of different builds may have pinch point issues due to the firmness of the seat, and the “sharp” sides as you say.

stimpacker

Thanks Brian!

I have been in a Bolt. Seems OK, not luxurious. Wasn’t able to drive one for hours to see how I’d like to be in one for a long while.

Leaf, Tesla – those are totally OK with me. Spark EV – not good, can barely tolerate 30mins.

Glad to hear you don’t have issues getting a CSS charging spot right away. I swore off the SF-LA Tesla SuperCharger corridor. Am actually using my V8 ICE for those trips, LOL. It is infuriating to have to wait so long for a charging spot after working so hard to pass those slow-poke motorhomes on I-5.

Brian

You’re welcome.

The infrastructure in Albany NY and throughout Vermont is ahead of the market for now. There are a good number of CCS chargers, and not a lot of cars on the road yet. I hope that it keeps up with the market if not fully staying ahead of the curve. I read about the congestion you have out west. I hope that, for your sake, the companies running these things are actually profitable. That would motivate them to install more locations and more chargers at each location.

I drove down some roads in the city this past trip where my narrow Bolt barely was able to squeeze by. A much wider Model S/X would have not fit through. I’m talking streets with cars parked on both sides the whole block.

Driving in NYC in general sucks.

Warren

On our 506 mile day from Tennessee, back to central Virginia, we used a DC fast charger in Blacksburg that would not have been possible for a Tesla. An SUV was legally renting the only charge spot, for a VT game. We were able to drive between a tree, and sign post, and parked on the sidewalk. Even a Model 3 would not have fit. Our Bolt barely fit.

Levi

Shows you how far Tesla’s are in a fully thought out experience for their customers.
Other OEMS just wing it and wait for the wind or “things to work themselves out”

Brian

Thanks for this write up, Bro. This is a great trip, and a well thought out write-up.

Next time you visit NYC, find a commuter rail station with L2 charging. The station I use has them, and they only charge $0.17/kWh. Sure you have to pay for the train, but you don’t have to drive in NYC, making the whole experience much nicer.

Pushmi-Pullyu

The article says:

“CCS fast charging infrastructure is not ‘there’ yet. While it was greatly improved over the last few years, it still does not compare to Tesla’s Supercharger network.”

Yeah, that’s the main impression I get from this report. Reading “road trip” reports from people driving non-Tesla BEVs tends to remind me of my parents’ descriptions of road trips in the days of cars with narrow tires (like the Model T), when they never knew how long it would take to get where they were going because they would almost invariably experience multiple delays along the way, and everybody took along a tire repair kit because flat tires were a frequent occurrence.

Seems to me you have to be a truly dedicated EV advocate to be willing to put up with these inconveniences and hassles, rather than using a PHEV or a gasmobile for longer road trips. And that’s why I think we’re still in the early adopter phase of the EV revolution. The average car buyer simply wouldn’t put up with these inconveniences and delays in a road trip.

Hate to say it, but with the possible exception of Tesla cars, EV tech really does need to improve before PEVs become mainstream.

Warren

“Not there yet” is an understatement! Outside of major metro areas, all but non-existent.

EVShopper

Or have a second car for long trips, or just rent a car when you need it.

Bill Howland

Just hitting the 19,000 mark (I’ll be over 20,000 miles by the time of its aniversary at the end of february), I’ve done plenty of cold weather driving in the BOLT, and found it generally behaves as expected. If you want every last mile, it is indeed good to turn the car on while being plugged in to warm the cabin, and warm the battery – initially this combined will actually discharge the battery a bit until it can recharge finally 20 minutes later, since it uses around 9 kw whereas the maximum L2 charge rate is only somewhat over 7.2 kw.

Maybe I have an early release, but my charge indicator goes to ORANGE as opposed to YELLOW here when down to 5% charge.

Brian

Thanks, Bill, for answering this for me.

So it sounds like preheating the car (and battery) on my 240V/15A Voltec unit will use some of the battery. I guess I just need to warm it up long enough ahead of time so that it has time to recharge to full before I go.

I’m going on a 360-mile journey on Saturday, and I want to make it as painless as possible. As it is, I have to go 35 miles out of my way in order hit the necessary DCFC in Albany. That will add nearly an hour (driving plus charging for the extra miles) compared to if there was a DCFC at a Thruway rest stop that I could use.

stimpacker

Yikes! The wife and kids would have veto-ed that. No out of the way charging.

Even a charging stop when a potty stop is not needed is unwelcome.

Worst is if the charging spot has no open bays (so we have to wait to plug in, then wait yet again), then it’s gonna be “next time take the ICE car!!!”.

The final rule is it’s gotta be cheaper than gas. If charging fees cost more than gas for the trip, then it’s “why the heck are we putting up with this inconvenience????”

Brian

To each his own. I drive electric for many reasons. Cost savings is lower on the list. I just simply hate burning gasoline. Knowing that I’m funding countries (and radical groups) that don’t like us very much is a big deterrent. Luckily for me, my wife is almost as into it as I am. In fact, she is pushing ME to take the Bolt down to Virginia next summer. That’s 525 miles each way!

I have yet to come up to a charger that is in use, although it is bound to happen. All of the CCS around here is single port only.

AnonyMouse.com

Bro,

I recommend using the SpotHero app to find and reserve less expensive parking in NYC.

http://www.spothero.com

Instead of taking Amtrack to NYC next time, consider taking the wifi-enabled BoltBus from Richmond or Washington DC. ?

http://www.boltbus.com

Harold T

Great write up and on point! EV long distance with anything less than Tesla equivalent is painful. That said a trip in a Tesla is no cake walk either. ICE cars with 500 miles+ range will get you there 1 1/2 hours earlier, less stressful, and none of the destination charging issues. You’re right, take the train to go to the City.

Michael Will

Less stressful in the tesla with autopilot for sure.
We do the SF to LA trip and other long distance trips and I would never want to go in a legacy gas car again. I used to insist on flying anything over 300 miles, but since end of May 2016 we got the Model X90D and put about 37k miles on it which I would have never done in the Honda Odyssey it replaced.

I don’t mind the supercharging stop in the middle, just align lunch or dinner at Harris Ranch and the phone up sends you a notification when it is full before you even paid the waiter.

JyChevyVolt

Harris Ranch is overrated. The steak along 101 is way better. $49 bone in ribeye tasted like Costco steak.

Sch

Driving 200 miles with just 45 minutes of DCFC while starting with half the battery is a good result for todays EVs. The first leg would be possible with just 35-40 minutes charging without the interuption and wasted time.
Bolt has a bigger battery, but DCFCs is slower than for example the Ioniq with fhalf the battery capacity. That’s the main reason, why it is still part of the first generation of EVs. And why road tripping requires patience.
The other reason is the DCFC network, its gaps and poor quality. But don´t be angry that a free chargers stop charging after 30 minutes, the problem is it is free not that it stops.

Steve Birkett

We did Boston to NYC back in early October with no charging stops all the way down. We found the Edison Parkfast at 451 9th Ave had a free Chargepoint, which they knew how to use and helped offset the $30 parking fee somewhat. Definitely recommended if you’re planning a day in the city (Sunday for us, which eases the driving nightmare… slightly). Temperatures were much more amenable back then, so I’m sure we’d have taken several hours more in winter conditions.

JyChevyVolt

Rent a Tesla on Turo and you’ll find, the grass is not greener on the Tesla side.

I’m kind of jealous. My wife would not put up with that kind of road trip.

Michael Will

I actually did just that, rented a model s P90DL in 2015 to convince my wife that it is possible to let go of the Honda Odyssey. A 4 day weekend and 800 miles later I was allowed to preorder the Model X and we took delivery end of May 2016, went on a vacation right after moving luggage from the Honda Odyssey we traded in, loving every day since.

JyChevyVolt

This is the best method before buying. Test drives are too short to give you a true feel for the car.

Luckily, the wife didn’t like the S and I didn’t notice any difference from other EVs, except for performance.

We’ll keep searching for her replacement.

David McDonald

Great trip report! Loved the reference to the 2012 Volt. That’s all we have and have loved it. ”Course driving down here in sunny West coast FL , St.Pete, is great.

Our 2012 Volt has proved a great car, 51K miles and 44 gal. gas. Zero problems but forgot all about the 12V battery. It died and had to be taken to local Chevy dealer to put in a new one. Hey, 6 years on a battery down here ain’t bad.

Offenbach

Better yet, get a Dodge Journey and – with its 20.5 gallon tank travel the 205 miles to NYC nonstop. And save digging up the earth for battery ingredients in the process!

SansIce

ugh – wha? Its a joke right? Why are you here?

ffbj

As into every life some rain must fall, as bro1999 suggests,on every thread some poop must plop.

Neromanceres

Let me edit that for you.

Dig up the earth for battery ingredients that can be recycled into new batteries after a full 30 year life. Instead of digging up the earth for a resource that you burn and never recover?

Mark.ca

This Dodge runs of fairy dust?

Pushmi-Pullyu

@ Offenbach

You seem to have gotten lost. The website appealing to coal-rollers who want to keep destroying our planet by spewing poison into the air from their noxious gasmobile and/or dirty diesel truck tailpipes, is at least 2 or 3 clicks from here. 🙄

Don Zenga

A risky but adventurous trip with Bolt. Please share it with your friends, neighbors and relatives too so that they will also buy a Bolt/Volt. Yes winter is brutal for all electrics, so it’s safer to use a plugin like Volt.

ffbj

True, and it probably makes the trip worthwhile, as a word to the wise.
Don’t try this at home, or with a Bolt.

Yes, always take the easiest, safest path in life. You must be the life of the party, ffbj.

Or, GM could take the Package of the Bolt EV, and 40 kWh worth of the Battery, and put the Voltec Drivetrain in it, for a more Useful EREV, with 125-150 Miles EV Range, and with an 8 Gallon Gas Tank, give you a backup of another 300+ miles! Or, 300 miles on Gas, plus another 125-150 Miles all Electric, with the right software and options! Since GM won’t be stepping up to the plate for General Infrastructure support, like installing Multiple CCS stations, any time soon.

Don Zenga

I have a question to plugin owners. After a short trip, lets say to our office and the 50 mile battery range is depleted; is there anyway we can use the Gas/Petrol engine to charge the battery for the return trip. This way we can hit the 100 MPGe with the motor/battery rather than 42 MPG with engine/gas and also enjoy a smooth drive.

Neromanceres

That makes zero sense to do. So you would rather get zero MPG on the gas engine to get 100mpge (averaging far less than 42mpg overall) than simply getting 42 mpg?

Using the gas engine to charge the battery to then power the electric motors creates many points of energy loss. In this situation better to let the car do it’s thing and figure out the best way to get the energy to the wheels as direct as possible.

Pushmi-Pullyu

There are multiple reasons why that would be a bad idea.

1. It would shorten the life of your car’s battery pack with unnecessary cycling

2. It would put unnecessary wear-and-tear on your PHEV’s gas engine

3. Running the range extender only to charge the battery pack is the most inefficient, most polluting way to run a PHEV.

4. If you included the gas you burned to unnecessarily charge the battery pack, then the MPGe rating for those miles would likely be even worse than the rating for the average gasmobile.

If you want to enjoy the benefit of a smooth, quiet ride under EV power on the way home, then find some place to leave the car plugged in while you’re off working or shopping or whatever.

And keep in mind that charging your car’s battery pack from the wall plug is using energy far more efficiently than charging it using the small and inefficient gas motor in your PHEV. Even in the unlikely event that 100% of your region’s electric grid power comes from burning fossil fuel (such as natural gas), it’s still significantly more energy-efficient on a well-to-wheel basis than electricity from your PHEV’s gas engine.

Bill Howland
Don Zenga first off don’t listen to the self appointed big experts like Pushi who will never even own an EV of any kind, and are in fact legally prevented from driving anything period. You can add a few miles on your VOLT if totally discharged by putting it in ‘Mountain Mode’ to charge the battery up to 1/4 or 1/3 state of charge level, and then if you still want to run the engine more, just put it in “HOLD” mode. I could think of some times when you’d want to do this – as a for instance using the heater off of gasoline powered heat rather than expensive electricity. The jacket temperature will warm up quickly. It could even prove to be economical if you are starting up with much highway driving and are completing your trip with city driving, – where electric only operation really shines. I don’t do this myself, but my nephew does since he seems to need heat more than anything else. But then he buys the gas. As far as Pushi’s drivel that the BOLT ev is a ‘city car’ only – the only reason I bought the Roadster and BOLT ev is… Read more »
Merv

For PHEVs like the Chevy Volt, the best way to handle a trip like you described is to put it into “hold mode” while on the freeway and back into regular EV mode while on surface streets. You barely notice the gasoline engine while on the freeway.

As far as charging the battery from the engine, the only possibility I can think of is maybe some clever use of “mountain mode” which can partially charge the battery while driving. It’s a longshot, but maybe it works while parked, too. However, I would recommend against it even if it did work.

ffbj

Well written, but you could saved yourself a lot of trouble by simply not bothering to use the car for something it’s not designed for.

It’s designed for….driving?

Pushmi-Pullyu

The Bolt EV is a “city car” intended mostly for short-range driving. GM made that quite clear by not including DCFC capability as standard equipment, and by putting in seats which many find rather uncomfortable to sit in for hours.

It’s rather odd that this simple fact seems to upset GM fanboys. It’s not an insult to call the Bolt EV a “city car”; it’s just the truth.

Now, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be used for something other than its intended purpose — as you’ve done here, Bro1999. Vehicles get used that way all the time. Heck, you can even use a VW Beetle for a moving van, if you try hard enough. But let’s not pretend it was designed for that, in either case.

Teslas weren’t designed for driving across the country either, but that doesn’t stop people from doing it.

It all depends on what an individual can tolerate. There’s people like me that don’t mind pushing the limits of what can be done in a Bolt. There are other people that aren’t satisfied with even a Model S 100D’s 330 mile range because a gas car with 20 gallon tank can travel 600 miles without stopping.

Like I said, your mileage will vary.

Going back to the above trip, if I had access to overnight destination charging, the trip would have been MUCH easier. I would have only needed one 15-30 minute DCFC instead of the 75 minutes I ended up doing. Gas car would have still been faster, but not nearly as bad as what transpired.

EVShopper

Yeah. Not a city car. My Spark EV with no DCFC and with 80mile range is a city car. (60 winter range).

Not everyone needs DCFC, So it’s fine for it to be an option.

jim stack

Good report.
I’d like to know how much you paid to charge at the Blink and EVGO stations?
Those 30 minute EVGO stations are a bummer. You have to set you watch and get back to restart if you need a bigger charge. the rates are expensive.

I have the now-defunct $14.95 a month, no connection fee 10¢/min EVgo plan. So the 105 minutes of fast charging cost $10.50 minus the monthly fee.

Blink cost me 49¢/kWh. On top of the $47 parking fee. And my left arm.

What? Blink doesn’t have a Medical Plan included in that rate? To cover Surgery?

ram

Bottom line: even with 238 miles of range the Bolt cannot compete with Tesla’s reliable, well maintained and highest speed available charging network. It’s still just a city car with a lot of range that is really not designed for long distance travel.

Oh, and as for the CCS chargers. Check plugshare.com and you’ll see how inadequate that network really is. Even the dieselgate payback will only develop charging in major metropolitan areas.

EVShopper

The Electrify America plan also is building a highway infrastructure to support road trips. Look it up. It’s not just city centers.

Nix

This is a pretty good representation of why GM builds both a pure EV and a PHEV. For a typical 2+ car household, if this trip description doesn’t sound fun, just get a Bolt and a Volt and use the Volt for a trip like this.

Use the Bolt just for short day trips (head for the beach?) and for daily commutes, and the Volt for overnight or multi-day trips if dealing with chargers isn’t your cup of tea.

JyChevyVolt

The Volt is not a road trip car. Try squeezing 4 people inside the Volt on a road trip. Divorce City!

I rather take the Bolt EV.

GM needs to make a CUV-shaped Volt. Think Equinox in size. I’m hoping that’s what they have planned to replace the Volt if the rumors of discontinuing the Volt are indeed true.

And yet the Volt is almost a great step up for Honda Civic Coupe and Sedan drivers! I think! So long as their back seat passengers are short!

Steven

Ah, my back yard…
I know that route only too well.

Scooby

I did a 500 mile round trip from Richmond, VA to Harrisburg, PA and back in my Bolt last November. I used DC fast chargers at Chevy dealerships in Rockville and Harrisburg and kept the charge topped off with the 120v charger while the car was parked at a relative’s house. I only had to wait about 45 mins at each of the dealerships to get adequate charge. The temperature wasn’t as low as Brian’s trip, but I wasn’t stressed about getting to another charger. It does take some planning but a Bolt can do some long trips if you pass near Chevy dealerships on the way.

Most Chevy CCS stations are likely the 24 kW variety. I pretty much ignore for road trip planning.

cab

Even our Tesla is, frankly, more hassle than any ICE car we’ve ever taken out of town.

You are always at the mercy of where Tesla decides to put a charge station along your route (assuming it is even along your route…you may find yourself driving out of your way to head to an SC only to backtrack to where you want to go).

This ignores the other obvious items like charge times, questionable destination charging, etc.

Ultimately, we still evaluate every trip individually and decide “Are we taking the Tesla or the other car?” – much like Brian did.

It is all, of course, getting “better” (indeed, a month before we bought a Tesla, one of our primary out of town destinations got a Supercharger which we have used several times), but for someone whose routes don’t align well with SC placement (or at all), saying it will be “better” in 2 or 3 years doesn’t help you much today.

In fairness, here in Texas, the Tesla SC network is really the only game in town for “out of town” EV travel…

David Bronicki

As I see it eventually as more EVs come online the charging stations will cost you money to recharge, it only makes sense they have to make a profit somewhere so you’re going to be it.

Curt Brackenrich
I know this is an older thread at this point, but I just wanted to drop in a line on behalf of those of us who are curious about EVs but still drive gas vehicles. Try to picture how uneducated YOU all were about the EV world before getting an EV yourself, all you had to do was pump the gas in and go, remember? Now re-read the article above with those gas-engine goggles on, complete with EV lingo sprinkled liberally throughout, and you might get an idea why many of us are more than a bit hesitant to give serious thought to purchasing an EV. More questions than answers come to mind, again as a total layman to all this but is by no means who isn’t an idiot. Some observations: 1 – Tesla vs others. So only Teslas can charge at the Tesla stations, makes sense to me but there might be conversions? Is there a cost for non Teslas to charge there, or is it even possible? There is a Tesla surpercharger station in my little hometown and we’ve seen it used, but very rarely. I remember the first time a Tesla actually was seen charging the… Read more »