Charging speed isn't the Bolt EV's strongest attribute.
In 2020 Chevrolet increased the battery size of Bolt EV from 60 kWh to 66 kWh of usable energy. That 10% battery increase translated into 21 more miles of EPA-rated driving range to 259 miles from 238 miles.
However, even with one of the largest battery packs of any EV available today, the Bolt isn't capable of very high-speed DC fast charging. In fact, it has the lowest DC fast charging rate of any EV available today with a battery pack larger than 50 kWh.
I attended the 2020 Bolt EV media drive and Chevrolet informed us that the 2020 Bolt could charge faster on a DC fast charger under different ambient temperatures than previous models could. However, Chevrolet didn't increase the top charge rate, which stands at 55 kW. What they did was improve the charging profile.
The Bolt can now accept full power for a longer period of time, especially under challenging, temperatures when the battery pack is cold. We were told that, for the first 30 minutes, the 2020 Bolt EV can charge at up to 150% faster in cold temperatures than the pre-2020 models were capable of.
We really like the Bolt EV, but the charging rate really hurts the vehicle's ability to travel long distances without too much inconvenience. Chevy did so much right with the Bolt, it's unfortunate they didn't bump up the DC fast charge rate to 75 kW to 100 kW with the larger battery in 2020.
We understand why the Bolt didn't have faster charging when it originally launched, that's because there weren't any DC fast charge stations available that could deliver more than 50 kW. But now there are, and these high-speed stations are rapidly proliferating in the US, Canada, and Europe.
So we drove a 2020 Bolt EV down to 4% state of charge and plugged it into a 150 kW Electrify America DC fast charge station and recorded the entire charging session in a 10X time-lapse video. The Bolt EV took 69 minutes to reach 80% and accepted 51 kWh. That's just too long to get to 80% in our opinion.
The Bolt reached its highest charge rate of 53 kW at 20% state of charge and bounced between 53 kW and 52 kW until about 50% state of charge when it began slowly ramping down the rate. When it reached 80% SOC the car was accepting 24 kW. We suspect it would have taken another hour to charge it from 80% to 100%.
However, since most manufacturers offer how long it takes to charge the vehicle to 80% on a DC fast charger (Chevy doesn't - and we now know why) we thought charging to 80% for comparison was appropriate for this test. Also, most people won't stay plugged into a DC fast charger past 80% unless they really need the extra miles to get home or to the next charging station.
At 80%, the Bolt EV still offers a good 200 miles of highway driving, and that should hopefully get you to your destination or to the next DC fast charge station. All EVs slow down their charging rate as the vehicle approaches 100%, and it's just not worth waiting once the charging rate tapers off unless you really have to.
For comparison, the Hyundai Kona Electric has a 64 kWh (usable) battery pack and delivers 258 miles of driving range, nearly identical to that of the Bolt EV. Hyundai states that the Kona Electric can charge from 0% to 80% in 54 minutes. That's 28% faster than it took us to charge the Bolt to 80%, and we started out at 4%, not zero. That's because the Kona Electric can accept up to 75 kW of power, about 35% more power than the Bolt EV can accept.
Gallery: Chevrolet Bolt EV 2020
What do you think? We know the video isn't the clearest, but as you can see it was raining hard most of the time we were recording and there were very dark clouds overhead, making it hard to get a good clear picture of the screen. Is the Bolt EV's charging rate as big a problem as we think? What do the Bolt owners out there think?