Range Riddle: Kilowatt-Hours To Drive 184 Miles In A Chevy Bolt?


There’s a lot we don’t know about real-world EV range.

Ever since I started driving a 238-mile Chevrolet Bolt, my third electric vehicle, I haven’t given much thought to driving range. I began leasing the 2017 Bolt in June of last year, and its 60 kilowatt-hour battery pack was a big step up from my previous 2014 RAV4 EV’s 42-kWh pack granting 120 miles of range – just as that discontinued Toyota electric SUV was a bump from my 2011 Nissan Leaf’s pipsqueak 24 kilowatt-hours that eked out 84 miles on a charge. That’s a big leap in range in only six years. I rarely take road trips in the Bolt, so I recently embarked on regional trips in the Bay Area to learn more about my EV’s real-world range. The results of one particular trip were perplexing. I hope that you can help solve the range riddle.

My Bolt’s dashboard range indicator always seems low. It rarely registers more than about 160 miles of estimated range after a full, overnight charge even though the official range is 238 miles. So I reached out to FleetCarma, the EV division of the Geotab fleet management company, and they graciously loaned me a device that plugs into the car’s onboard diagnostics port. Data from the vehicle – such as state-of-charge, location, and driving speeds – are all registered in an online account.

With my wife along for the ride, we set out under blue skies and 60-degree weather from Berkeley to northern Sonoma County in what mapped out to a 180-mile round-trip drive. With the battery pack at 99-percent state-of-charge, I noted that the Bolt’s estimated range on the dashboard was only 155 miles. It also showed that over the past 8,000 miles I had averaged an efficiency of 3.8 miles per kilowatt hour. Logic would suggest that, even if I drive faster than I should for maximum efficiency, I would have plenty of juice for the 180-mile planned journey. In other words, I blew off the car’s 155-mile estimate and hit the road with trust in the EPA’s estimate of 238 miles on a single charge.

The first leg of the trip from Berkeley to Sonoma wine country, mostly along Highway 101, was brisk but not faster than the rest of traffic. My FleetCarma account later showed me that I averaged 50 miles per hour – with a top, momentary speed of (ahem) 82 miles mph. Lo and behold, after an 80.5-mile drive to Healdsburg, the dashboard revealed that the amount of remaining estimated range was only 65 miles, not even enough to make it back home much less complete the loop back through Napa Valley that I had planned. This leg consumed 23 kilowatt-hours, about a third of the pack and yet my data device indicated the battery state-of-charge at 41.2 percent. Explain that. The data and the dashboard suggested my efficiency was about 3.5 miles per kilowatt-hour.

Opportunity charging in Healdsburg, Calif.

Fortunately, just as we pulled into Healdsburg, I found a bank of Level-2 chargers at a private business, which amazingly allows anybody to charge free after office hours. So we plugged in and took a delightful stroll through quaint downtown Healdsburg. Ninety minutes later, the battery had taken on 9.5 kilowatt-hours of power (with 1.15 kWh in charger loss), and the Bolt’s pack was back up to 62 percent state of charge. Unfortunately, I didn’t note the estimated range was at that point, but with more than a half a pack, I felt certain that I had enough range for another 100 or so miles.

Six miles (and 1.4 kWh) down the road, we stopped at the lovely Quivira Vineyards and discovered – another lucky stroke – a free Level 2 charger in the parking lot. See the photo at the top of this page. After a one-hour stroll through Quivira’s gardens, the Bolt was supplied with another 7.5 kilowatt-hours of energy (with 1 kWh lost to the charger) and my car’s state-of-charge was up to 74.9 percent.

**Data from a day of driving. A new line is created with every key-start (when the car is turned on).

The rest of the road trip was completed in one stretch. It took us up to Geyserville, through the rolling hills of Calistoga and St. Helena, down through Napa and finally back to the congested East Bay. It was a 94-mile leg that consumed nearly 22 kilowatt-hours of energy – an efficient 4.2 miles per kilowatt hour in 72-degree weather with an average speed of 40 miles per hour. Those are ideal EV conditions.

**My four charging events over the course of 24 hours.

By the time we reached back home, the dashboard’s energy bar graph showed that the car was down to one-quarter of its capacity, which roughly matched the computer’s reading of a 21.2 percent state-of-charge. The estimated range on the guess-o-meter was an uncomfortable 35 miles. It was good to be home.

I ended the day with 35 miles of estimated range.

The total day’s journey was 183.4 miles in which I used 46.61 kWh of energy. The computer data and the dashboard were an identical match on daily efficiency at 3.95 miles per kilowatt-hour. I had added 17 kilowatt-hours of juice while on the road. Back home, I plugged the car into my Level 2 home charger, set to delay the flow of electrons to the wee hours when electricity is cheap. The next morning the Bolt was back to a 100-percent state-of-charge after adding 34.83 kilowatt-hours of energy (with charger losses at 4.18 kWh).

What lessons can be gleaned from this Sunday drive? (Besides perhaps that I don’t know how to add. I trust readers will point out where my numbers are wrong.) How do the numbers relate to the Bolt’s 238-mile of EPA estimated range? What if I had driven faster or slower – or didn’t have the benefit of the NorCal’s temperate climate? I’m sure the numbers from the drive contain a multitude of range riddles for us to ponder.

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105 Comments on "Range Riddle: Kilowatt-Hours To Drive 184 Miles In A Chevy Bolt?"

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This drive gives me lots of concern about going electric. Way too much time spent at level 2 chargers for my liking. I used to make many trips to the wine country from Walnut Creek in my ICE car to pick up wine. A 2 hour round trip on a Sunday.

L2 charging is inadequate for road tripping. However, L2 is great for overnight charging. 50kW or better fast chargers are needed for road trips, but unfortunately are not yet as widely available as L2 charging. That’s changing fast.

Of course, I never use L2 in public and never have a problem. In a subsequent trip I used a Quick Charger and will probably write about it. Although I really didn’t need a charge for that trip either.

Yup, I did a trip to Vegas this weekend. 698.7 mile. And 855 miles to San Francisco the other week, and the 400+ miles to Palm Springs the weekend before in my 2017 BMW i3. Quick charging is a must. It was cool seeing the four 150kW chargers now installed at the Bakers Station. (not operating yet though). The i3 is great. Sure you have to stop on the way to Vegas, as you would have to in the Bolt also at highway speeds of 70mph+. But when charging. the i3 is always a quick charge and go, whereas the Bolts are noticeably slower for the same amount of miles gained.

Here you can see the i3 easily cruising at 95 mph up the 4700 ft elevation Mountain Pass. (both ways too)

Here you can see even with my cruise control set at 70 mph of almost 122 miles straight, the i3 averaged 150MPGe!


“the i3 is always a quick charge and go, whereas the Bolts are noticeably slower for the same amount of miles gained”

The Bolt can charge up to 55kW. What does the i3 max out at? Both are similar enough efficiency.

You are right, I didnt average 95mph…only 69mph for 122 miles straight. And no tailwind. I have done better at slower speeds.
Every time i charge and a Bolt is next to me they are amazed the i3 is charging faster. 55kW? Lol…for how long? I can pick up almost 24kWh in 30 minutes. Thats averaging 46kW including taper on a battery half the size of a Bolt. I have comparisons with the ioniq too. Pretty much identical between the BMW and Ioniq.

Very curious about the charging characteristics of the 40kWh i3 battery. If even better, it may actually be the better long trip car. And with a range extender, no question about it.. any more questions?


I’m getting so angry with people posting their lowest energy use they’ve had at a certain speed like that’s how it always is. It gets peoples hopes up making them disappointed later on.

I’ve been driving the i3 too. At about 40 degrees F at an average speed of 70 mph and got 2,8 miles/kWh. You must have had tail wind for sure and probably downhill too.

Also apropos of the MPGe claim above; it is wrong because MPGe is based on the gross electricity used including charging losses, not on the kWh/mi. shown on the dash x 33.7 which Warren has done to claim 150 MPGe. Nevertheless it is impressive consumption for 70 mph but it could indeed be from a tailwind or elevation drop or both over the 122 mi.

Always a skeptic out there that needs more proof. Here’s a 148 mile trip on less than 100% charge at a slower 56mph average. Could have done 150 miles easily on that highway trip. Incredible 170 mpge.


By the way almost a 70mph average to Vegas is a good clip for an unaerodynamic i3! Did I also mention four people in the i3 to Vegas?

As far as MPGe..I am simplistically using my mi/kWh x 33.7. Realistically, if you are charging on a trip…are you really concerned about how much energy your inefficient charger may be losing, or more importantly how far your car will go on the energy stored in the battery. My numbers make perfect sense..i3 has about 29.6 usable x 5mi/kWh is about 150 miles. Feel free to post your efficiency/range results of 55mph on a round trip and we can discuss. What year is your i3? BEV?

As a reminder, the 148 miles above was ROUNDTRIP…so no factors of wind or hills here. And with a combo of city and mostly highway driving…5.1 miles/kWh is excellent while averaging almost 50mph on this continous trip. The i3 is an exceptional car regardless of the constant bashing by the uninformed here.

The Bolt battery is nearly 3 times the size of the i3.

No. The i3 has 70 miles of range.

The bolt has 228.

I use “hilltop reserve” charging mode, so only charge to 90% capacity. I’ve made a number of 150+ mile round trips, about 60% on highway using cruise control set at 64 mph and have 70-80 miles range remaining when I return home. Typical energy use is 35kWh for 155 mile trip, bit less than 0.23 kWh/mile. No sweat.

Shouldn’t have to worry about it. The author wrote:

“The total day’s journey was 183.4 miles in which I used 46.61 kWh of energy”

That is plenty of margin for you to get back. Unless of course, you are cranking up heat and drive really fast.

Many Wine Country wineries have L2 charges now so when you stop to pick up the wines, you can just get a “free sip” as well. =)

Your concern is mis-directed. Don’t be the idiot who buys a non-Tesla.

Model 3 is vastly more efficient than the Bolt, and charges vastly quicker. Nobody talks about charging a Model 3 only part way, because it charges to full in under an hour at any Supercharger. It’s not fortune when you find a Supercharger – if it was necessary to stop at one, the car told you so and told you what your options were.

The model 3 is not vastly more efficient than the Bolt. The Model 3 is slightly more efficient than the Bolt at highway speeds. It is vastly faster at “Fast Charging” though. The “Mid Range” 3 also has a longer range than the Bolt.

Regardless of EV, you never ever charge to full on a “Fast Charger.” The last bit goes way too slow. Nobody with any actual EV experience would sit at a supercharger until their Tesla was full. Any Bolt owner (who knew what they were doing) wouldn’t charge to full on a DCFC either. If you have a 300 mile range vehicle and a 600 mile trip, you may start full, but don’t drain it, then wait for a full recharge on a supercharger, then drive the next 300. It’s MUCH faster to start full, drive to about 20% left, fill to about 70%, drive some more, stop at 20% and fill to 70% to finish the trip.

Voice of experience/street cred: Maximum distance road trip in a Bolt: 2300 miles. Maximum distance road trip in a Tesla (model X — I don’t have a 3): 4000-ish miles.

Don’t be the idiot that calls people idiots.

I can talk about charging my Model S part way – does that count? Most supercharger stops for me are 15 minutes. Last one was 10. It was literally a bathroom break but needed to get home.

The problem is the legacy car maker advertising maximum possible miles they can advertise legally and weaseling out with fine print like your mileage might vary.

Tesla EPA testing gave it 335 miles of range. Tesla is advertising 310 miles. The hypermiling test showed Model 3 will go 600 miles at 25 mph. And Tesla software tells you to slow down if the estimated range does not materialize.

So far, in Model 3, I am able to achieve the stated range. I watch the margin of safety predicted and watch it, and it remains within 1 or 2 % of the original prediction all the way to plugging into the supercharger. Recently I drove from Tennersville PA supercharger to the one in State college PA. Started out with 21%, dipped to 19% as I climbed up the hills and surged to 23% as we coasted down. Reached the supercharger with exactly 20%. We did not drive conservatively, we were at 75 mph most of the time.

Drive in L mode (Tesla driving) and your range will improve. I get 270 to 280 range driving on road trips (and around the Bay Area). My husband used to drive in D mode, and his range was MUCH worse. I finally convinced him to use L mode, accelerate slowly and not hit the brake to slow down (no need in L mode), and his range improved dramatically on a recent trip to Placerville (112 mile trip). Try it!

A Model 3 would have made this trip without any charging at all and still have almost 40% of the battery remaining at the end.

Teslas are the only EVs on the road today that can realistically be considered serious roadtrippers.

A Model 3 costs a lot more, and many Bolt owners got their EV before the 3 was shipping.

And you don’t need a “serious roadtripper” to be perfectly capable of going on a road trip. Remember that Tesla’s biggest seller in 6 months will be the version that has less range than the Bolt.

Predicting the future is a funny thing….
The SR may have more highway range than a Bolt and will certainly have an easier time taking a road trip.

It seems to me that there is something wrong with the data this bolt is displaying. 47 kWh for 183 miles seems about right though.

I have family that lives in Walnut Creek and Lafayette! We used to visit every Christmas and head up to wine country but it has become less frequent over the years as our families have grown.

You may have to wait a few years to get a longer range EV that can reliably get you there and back with some meandering along the way. A Model 3 would have more than enough range to do the job. We have taken it on a number of trips now and even at constant 75+ mph highway speeds it reliably will get us around 275 miles. Longer in mixed driving. Our lifetime average consumption is around 250 Wh/mile or 4 miles/kWh and my wife uses it for her daily 35 mile each way commute at freeway speeds.

The Model 3 isn’t an affordable car for sure but the fact that it exists now at a price point that is within spitting distance of the average new car cost means that it won’t be more than a few more years until battery cost will allow for a 300+ mile EV that more people can afford.

So if you made the 183 mile trip on 46.6kWh, that means you could’ve made the trip without charging at all, right? That corrrsponds to a 252 mile range on a full battery, better than the EPA estimate.

Before calculating that, Your low range estimates made me wonder if you had a brake pad sticking, or if your tires were not fully inflated. But maybe you normally just take short trips where heater or AC usage plays a bigger role in the efficiency numbers? Or lots of acceleration/speed?

As an aside, ever consider using Hilltop Reserve mode if you don’t normally use all your range or take short trips? That’ll only charge your battery to 90% and be a bit better for battery longevity (Lithium Ion likes to avoid the charging extremes for longer life)

Then the miles/kWh should be higher. This sounds like there’s something wrong with the battery

I’d reset the counter for mile per kWh on each trip so you see the real numbers. When it’s all added in from day one it’s hard to know the real energy use. Weather Temperature, tire pressure and hills make a big difference. Just a little slower and your range will increase.

I was also concerned about the (Seemingly) constant charging to 100%. I even suspect the battery might have taken a toll already?

Should be 58-60 kWh usable, so that’s 228-236 miles.

So your battery pack should have a capacity of 60 kWh but “This leg consumed 23 kilowatt-hours, about a third of the pack and yet my data device indicated the battery state-of-charge at 41.2 percent.”

If the numbers are correct that means you have about 40 kWh available in your battery. Sounds like somethings wrong with it.

Right. All of his number suggest he has a ~40kWh battery and not 60kWh. And he wouldn’t be the first to have problems with his battery. They aren’t common, but there have been Bolts with bad battery cells. I would take it right to Chevy for a battery test.

I seriously doubt that something is wrong with my battery. I think it has more to do with the mysteries of how range is calculated and displayed. But let’s see what others say.

With all due respect, Brad, I think that Chevy would be in a better position to judge your battery’s health than a bunch of commenters on the internet. Others have reported bad battery cells on the forums, and Chevy has been taking care of them. All of your efficiency numbers look fine, and strongly suggest that the computer is working with a number less than 60kWh. This issue doesn’t appear to just be how range is calculated and displayed. As filip points out, you consumed 23kWh and used 58.8% of your battery. The computer seems to thing that you only have 39kWh available, and is basing its range estimate on that. That said, it might be a software calibration issue and not an actual battery issue. You say you’ve had the car since June 2017. Did something suddenly change recently? Or did you always have this low of a range estimate? Over the past 18 months, did you only ever commute in the car, never letting it get to a lower SoC? You could try running the battery down low (as in to the low battery warning at about 15%) and recharging a few times. If it’s a calibration issue,… Read more »

Did he use 58.8% of his battery? Or is the state of charge readout from the borrowed equipment factoring in some hidden buffer? I’m not sure how much unused battery buffer there is on the Bolt EV but that could explain at least some of the SOC disparity when using connected equipment to get these details.

Plus, if his own calculations say he used 46kWh to go 180 miles (assuming those are accurate numbers) then nothing seems wrong.

I have had my Bolt for over 1 year. I drive 50+ miles per day and I can confirm that on a full charge you should have 234-240 miles available. Otherwise you have a bad battery in the pack. No matter how bad I drive or use AC/heat when I full up I see over 230 miles available. Come check out the Facebook group on bolts.

I took a trip to Canada a week ago. It was in the 30s, and I had the heat going while driving highway speeds. Under those conditions, I was still estimated near 200 miles per charge. There is no way that you should be at 150 miles.

Yep it sounds like this is a bad battery.

Yes, I make these numbers to indicate your battery is currently down to 44 kWh capacity, and the car knows that based on prior charging cycles, so is projecting reduced range. I’ve often wondered if the predicted range values are based on an actual assessment of the battery capacity during charge/discharge cycles, and here it sounds like that is the case. The other question is whether the range predicted is based on recent actual or EPA consumption rates.

Something definitely sounds off for sure, unless we are missing some details.

There’s a simple test. Run the battery down to 0, charge up and see how many KWh the battery takes from the charger.

If the the 60kWh has an usable range of 58kWh, then 41.2% of 58kWh is 23.896 kWh.

Sounds pretty close to me.

Does the display of kWh only indicate the usage for driving, and not for conditioning of the battery?

You’ve got the numbers flipped. It’s 41.2% remaining, which means he used 58.8% of the battery.

Let’s solve the algebra problem. X=battery capacity.
X+15 (added in charging stops – charging losses) – 46.6 (used driving) = .212*X
X-29.6 = .212*X
-29.6 = -.788*X
40.1 = X

Also, charging after the trip took (34.83-4.18)=30.65 to go from 21.2% to 100%. Solving this gives a battery capacity of 38.9. The first charging stop works out to 40.6. Lots of data pointing to about 40kWh capacity.

I would agree with others who have suggested a battery diagnostic at the dealer.

Odd – like other’s have said, I would get GM to check the battery cells. On my Bolt in summer temps I get over 450km (~280mi) on the full 60kW. In the winter, however, it’s about half that.

25k miles on my Bolt. 300 mile range in summer and 180 mile range in winter.

It doesn’t matter if you drive like crazy or not — the regen is so efficient that quick accel makes neglible difference to mileage (unlike a gas car where it dumps excess fuel on full throttle).

High speeds are different — efficiency drops significantly at 70 and 80 MPH.

That is nonsense. Batteries are not symmetrical wrt to current flow. Batteries can output significantly more current than they can accept. So if you accelerate hard and brake hard almost no energy will be recaptured.

Nonsense? If his idea of crazy driving is regen to slow down, then it doesn’t really matter that the battery can only take so much charge. His idea of crazy might not be your idea. That being said, his statement is not worded the best. How good regen is has no bearing on how much fast acceleration takes from the battery. But fast acceleration doesn’t really take that much – and again – it depends on your definition of fast acceleration. Most people accelerate too slowly in ICE cars (meaning not as efficient as they could be).
Fact – full throttle acceleration in an EV is a bit less efficient than moderate acceleration. Not a huge hit but a hit.
Fact – regen is great but it is not anywhere near 100% efficient so should be avoided if possible. Obviously if you have to slow down, you should use it but ideal efficiency is constant speed with no regen.
It absolutely matters if you drive “like crazy”, but not nearly as much as an ICE car.

That’s a function of the electric motors where they’re highly efficient from about 5% to 85% of torque. Not a function of regen.

Gas motors on the other hand are most efficient in a very narrow rpm and at light torque demands.

Doing a proper range test a la Bjorn Nyland would be called for!

I got my 2017 Bolt on April 15, 2017 here in Chicago. It’s our family’s primary errands car putting on 1000 miles per month (sitting at 19k miles today). I am a numbers guy. I have been keeping track of all numbers the onboard Bolt computer tracks and what the weather is, whether I am running heat or AC, etc. I have gotten 3.5 miles per kW over 19k miles. Late Spring, summer, to early fall (6 months of year) weather is ideal for it in Chicago and I average between 4.5 to 5 miles per kW (300 miles range is not out of question for this Bolt – Love it!). Jan and Feb in Chicago with negative windchills nets me 2.5 to 3 miles per kW (150 to 180 miles). The Bolt computer on dashbaord telling me miles range has always been 100% accurate. So when it tells me range of 330 miles after full charge on a 70 degree day in May, I know I will get close to 300 miles granted I don’t do high speed highway driving and don’t run too much AC. AC is most efficient and uses 1 kW of energy to run (3-4%… Read more »

I agree, my experience with the Bolt computer has been it is very accurate. I live in Arkansas and drive a 2017 Bolt. My experience is an estimated 255 in summer and about 195 in Winter. I don’t drive much freeway speeds but I do find that range is reduced about 20 percent. Range is amazing if you drive back roads at maybe 30-35 mph then I see ranges up to 310. The Bolt excels in slow stop and go speeds like one would see in big city driving. In winter if you can use just the seat and steering wheel heat you should see no range impact. If you use the cabin heat it will reduce range by about 20-30 percent. Summer use of cabin air conditioning is perhaps 10 to 15 percent. In short I love the Bolt and plan to keep it many years.

Bad battery. As long as you aren’t running the heater all the time the efficiency in those conditions should be pretty close to a minimum of 4m/kWh. Even with a good bit of highway I average 5 m/kWh and get 6 around town. As mentioned by others your capacity works out to 40 kWh.

The good news is GM doesn’t seem to hesitate about replacing the batteries that have had issues. The bad news is the failure rate is much higher than what GM saw with the Volt.

Having average of 4.5miles per kwh after 60000+ miles on my 2017 Chevy Bolt I feel like I can add to this conversation.

First of all it seems like drive on the highway averaging 77mph with your AC on all the time. It is the only way that I can see you getting that mileage on the dashboard and that average. Also remember the average on the dashboard is recent driving estimate and your average 3.8miles per kwh is your actual average. 222 miles would be your average mileage, in my case 270 miles is my average. Now on the highway none of this matters unless your average is consistent with the majority of your driving. I would say the car averages 3.3 on the highway for future reference so 200 miles will always be safe unless your AC is on Max and your going 80.

Verify you aren’t in sport mode which I assume uses juice faster . My car in summer was typical to show 238-270 at full charge. Not showing 212 in the winter.
I agree with the rest I think I would have the battery checked your performance seems really poor.
Environmentally California should not be too hot or cold for battery and you shouldn’t need heat or a/c like the rest of the country

Lol. Not need heat or AC in California? I live in Bay Area and my AC is on half the year. About 3-4 months requires heat. Maybe 3 months no heat or AC needed.

Look at your average temps compared to other places. Then look up the definition of Need vs Want. Everybody everywhere thinks their climate is extreme. Nobody in the Bay Area should think that and I am sure you don’t. But heat when it is 50 degrees out is not anywhere like 20 degrees out.

The bay area commonly reaches 100+ in the summer. Those same places reach low 30s in the winter.

I agree that something is wrong. I have had my Bolt for 18 months and the range is almost totally dependent on the temperature. Anything 60 degrees or above and the range is 280-300 miles. In 45 degrees or below, range drops to 180 or a bit less, depending on the heating use and length of trip. The calculated range that displays has always been very accurate, with a slight lean toward conservative — just what you would want. So something is wrong with your car — software, battery or something else.

As another BoltEV owner, i have to say that it sounds like your Bolt “guess-o-meter” is confused and your speed may be a factor. Back in April 2017, I’ve posted “Chevy gave it a 238 mile range with the 60 kWh battery that’s in there. So, today I drove from my house at 500ft down I-15, to I-8, up over 4,000 ft and then down to 3200 ft, where I had used 18.3 kWh to go 58 miles at 60 mph. Then I drove up the sunrise highway to 6,000ft and over to Julian, down through Wynola, Santa Ysabel, etc. and got to my home having traveled 137.9 miles using 32.6 kWh of battery. So, even with adding over 6,000 ft of elevation gain in a 3,600+lb car I still have 137 miles of range left in my car” That’s the range I continue to get. If I drive at 80mph, I consistently get 180 or so, but if I go at 60-65 I easily get 220-230 miles.

Any round trip has 0ft elevation gain. This thinking sells $10000 12lb bicycles . There is slightly more loss due to uneven peak power flows creating more friction in power trains and tires but is a secondary effect. Aero is everything in bicycles w 1/4 hp and ev cars on a highway. Ex aerospace Eng.

From Berkeley to Healdsburg is basically slight uphill the entire way.

My ’17 Bolt with 13k miles always get 60kWH+ (when I drive from 100 to zero percent) …I never got under 170 miles in worst cold weather.

People of Bolt forum have had issues with a certain batch of ’17 Bolt batteries so yes I think something is wrong with your battery.

BTW seems like GM is nicer than Tesla about addressing and replacing batteries.

Bro1999 is quick to come in and apologize for the Bolt too.

Where is that business in Healdsburg where they allow access to their bank of L2 chargers during non work hours?

My advice is try driving slowly for a week or two, without heat or ac and see how that affects your full charge range. It’s my experience that the software looks at your most recent trip to calculate what you can expect on a full charge.

There is also an issue with some people who overaccelerate (get going too fast), then let off on the pedal to drop back to the intended speed and back again, and again. If you are one of them, every cycle pushes electron into and out of the battery, with some of the energy being lost. So I would expect efficiency to be lower for those drivers. But, I think the console tells you your efficiency, and gave you 3.8. Chevy preprograms in 3.9, so if you are doing 3.8, I would expect range to be 10-12miles below the stated 238. So most probably your battery isn’t giving you 60KWhours.

I too leased my bolt in June 2017. It’s the best car I’ve ever owned and my previous car was an infinity g35 coupe, which I also loved. My daily commute is about 20 miles one way so I rarely use external chargers. My home level 2 charger is more than sufficient. The estimated range can be as low as 169 miles but as high as 249 miles on a full charge. Why the wide range? It seems to be whether I’m routinely using the climate control. If climate control is on and used heavily, the estimated range will be low.

My guess is driving style, battery issue, or both.
Do you use single pedal mode (L rather than D on the selector)? I always use the L setting, and get 260 to 280 miles range, and drive about 1000 miles per month. I bought my Bolt in March 2017. On the highway I use cruise control at 65. A couple of tests on 100 to 200 mile trips have shown the dashboard range estimate to be within 1 or 2 miles of actual.
Aggressive driving, high speeds and use of A/C or heater decrease range. Here in CA Bay area the climate is mild enough that I seldom use A/C or cabin heater, just seat heater on cool days.

Hmm. 183.4 miles / 46.61 Wh = 3.935 m/Wh which checks with dashboard 3.95 close enough. 3.95 m/Wh * 60 Wh = 237 mile range, which checks with EPA 238 mile range close enough. Battery check OK. The only mystery is why when trip starts dashboard gave 155 mi range / 59 Wh available = 2.58 m/Wh efficiency? But, that depends on exactly what you were doing in the last 20 minutes or so of driving. I suspect much of the confusion has to do with altitude climbing. When going uphill, efficiency can be much lower than usual, but since “whatever goes up must come down”, you get most of that energy back eventually.

“Battery check OK”
Hardly. All you proved is that his driving efficiency is spot on for the EPA rated range. But you ASSUMED that his battery was 60kWh in order to get that number. You didn’t derive it from anything other than the EPA range!

I get 4.2 mi/kwh and I have sticky 18″ rubber. Need to bump the psi to 45 and use Hilltop. On a trip like this I would not use heat and just use the heated wheel and seats if it was cold.

Bradley typed this article while sitting at a qualified dealership, waiting for his Bolt to be diagnosed. Right?

You may want to inquire at the dealership about a software update if the charge isn’t showing 238 or near to that.

No riddle. Your driving style on freeways is fast. 60 mph should get you 4 m/kw. At 80 mph you’re hitting the drag coefficient hard which increases by the square root. If you go twice as fast you increase drag (of all kinds) 4 times. At 80 mph drag I’d MUCH higher than 60 – or 40. Average mph is insignificant. It doesn’t account for geometric drag coefficient. If you charge the car it projects range on your past driving behavior. If your behavior changes then it will take that into account in future projections – and not immediately. If your driving @ 40 mph you will exceed the expected range easily under normal conditions. The only other large varIable, assuming properly inflated tires, etc is heating the cabin for outside temps.

Your range achieved concerns me. I am considering the purchase of a Bolt as an Uber car. I live in South Florida, so that means 365 days of air conditioning. I know with my Prius that A/C sucks watts. Does anyone here, especially EV owners, think that a Bolt is a practical vehicle for this?

I have driven the Bolt in 100 deg+ temps and with the AC on and set to a cabin temp of 72deg, the range is only decreased by 15-20 miles (summertime range is 250 miles, 230 miles with AC on…if you are doing a lot of stop and go driving, then your range will easily be 250 miles or more).

The Chevy Bolt for Uber/Lyft/Maven etc. is absolutely a “practical vehicle” for ride share. In California there is a significant Bolt EV Maven fleet that current drivers are rent/leasing from Maven and GM. YRMV depending on your driving and the amount of your fares.

The ballpark Maven rental fee is approximately $229. – $239. per week (different regions), to try it out, and see for yourself what you think. I don’t know if Florida has a Maven ride share rent/lease plan available.


Until manufacturers start defining the elements of their range-remaining algorithm, I’ll simply rely on their displayed SoC% and do my own computations … oh, wait, the Bolt EV doesn’t have a SoC% number displayed on their dashboard (just a 20-element cutesy picture on the center screen), and one needs to go to the app to get that number! While we’re at it, could we please define consumption in terms of wall-to-wheels and not battery-to-wheels?

I have two 2017 Bolt EVs – my wife’s has right around 24K miles and mine has just over 25K miles – the average range on both is at least 250 miles in the summer and as low as 200 in the winter (milder year around temps on the Oregon coast) and we have done multiple 700 mile roundtrips in both Bolts as well as a 1200 mile roundtrip in mine. Best vehicles we have ever owned…so quiet, efficient, spacious, and quick!
Anyway, I agree with many others that you either have a software calibration problem or a few of your battery pack cells are bad (or a combination of both). You should contact your dealer and/or GM and have them check it out.

Bradley, your most efficient driving would be stop & go, not highway driving. The regenerative brakes recharge the battery, especially if you use the one-pedal driving mode which has more aggressive regen.

Like techlover, my 2017 Bolt gets about 300 miles on a full charge from Spring through Fall (even when using a/c), and around 160-200 miles in the cold weather. Most of my driving is stop & go, and I always drive in one pedal mode (which is just more fun).

Part of my big drop in range in winter is use of climate controls, but also because the battery requires conditioning in extreme temps. (I’m in Pennsylvania)

My 2018 Bolt estimated mileage seems very accurate. I regularly receive an estimate above 238 miles, with a max much higher, and a minimum, lower. My experience just isn’t consistent with the article. Longer trips seem to go just as planned for me, without the need to get a charge along the way.

Something wrong here.
I can very “easily” get more than 420 km (262 mi) out of the Bolt during summer – that is last September.

Have it checked.

It seems your driving style is not “efficient” or you have a dud. My bolt routinely gets me well over the 238-mile mark, as much as 344. A friend’s does the same. I have recently taken it to San Diego, from north of Sacramento and on 2 quick charges, an overnight on a L2, i had 130mi to spare, even after doing some touring around LA and Orange county. Climate control, acceleration, Regen (driving in L) all factor in to your range and perhaps you need to reevaluate your style before scaring people like some of the commenters below. The Chevrolet App Smart Driver feature can help you understand your driving style better.

Your usable battery capacity is in the low 40s kWh….the lowest usable battery capacity of any Bolt I have seen. The good news is it will be below the 36 kWh warranty replacement level long before you reach eight years, or 100K miles. It would be great to see your Telek/Torque Pro battery capacity. Please do the entire Bolt community a huge favor, and set your car up ASAP.


I have had a Bolt for over a year. 53,000 kilometers
The battery registers 430 plus kilometers in the summer but down to 300 or less is cold weather. But it always goes no matter how cold. Cost of fuel is a penny a kilometer. No service except wipers and fluid. In Ontario we have lots of level 3 charges to fill up in less than am hour . But you always leave home full. So in summer unless I drive more than 430k I do not need to charge but after that I need a break and stop to fill car and stomach.

My Bolt GOM always reads low leaving home — since I live on a hill and the last miles driven are what its using to compute my range — and those miles were all up hill getting home. I can drive 25 miles to work and have the GOM say I have more range than when I left, yet I’ve actually used 5 kWh of juice.

Hmmm. I have a 2017 Chevy Bolt and it is averaging 4.8 to 4.9 miles /kWH. My wife drives it most of the time between Petaluma and Rohnert Park. When fully charged the range is estimated between 270 and 280 miles. I have seen a significant drop in range if one is going faster than 65MPH. The drag coefficient on this car is not very good. I have driven the car from Petaluma to San Jose and back and still have 1/3 of a charge. When we know we want maximize our range we tough it out by not using the AC or the Heater and stay at 65MPH. We also use the Low drive setting to take maximum advantage of regenerative braking. The only time we use the drive setting is on the freeway and if the traffic is stop and go we shift back to the low setting.

From my understanding, the Bolt’s range estimate is based on things it knows now (such as driver climate selection and outside temp) and things it measured for the last indeed miles or so. When I commute to work in the city in winter, the energy consumption of climate controls take a big hit in efficiency. The Bolt factors this observed past behavior in and computes the future range estimate based on this. But when I then go on a long trip, even in the same temp weather, my practical range will be far greater than the 150ish miles that it guessed. This is because the ratio of every used by climate control to vehicular travel has changed a lot. After a few hundred miles, the prediction will change again. There are a lot of things that you might not think about affecting range besides just outside temp and driving speed. Wind direction and speed, sleet, snow and rain, humidity (how hard climate system on auto or driver overriding auto has to work to keep from fogging the interior) roof racked accessories, slow terrain elevation changes, all of these things can affect the current efficiency, and therefore prediction of future.

Not sure what to say. My experience has been totally opposite. I have a 2017 Bolt and I leave hilltop reserve on all the time, so I never charge to more than 90%. Even so, on my most recent charge, the guessometer gave me 270 miles; this is somewhat unusual, probably due to my recent driving history; more usually, it is in the 230 to 240 mile range. I normally get between 4.8 and 5.0 miles per kwh, even with some use of the A/C. I’m in Hawaii, so rarely use any heat, and I never loose any kwh to battery conditioning (either heating or cooling).

That doesn’t countv

Folks. Some of you are missing the whole point here. The GOM is doing a good job of estimating his range. The problem is the actual battery capacity available. The twenty bars on the left don’t lie. They are not guessing. And the device he has plugged into the OBD2 port is reading actual data from the car, it’s not an algorithm trying to predict the future.

If Brad will install Telek’s Torque Pro PIDs, he will be able to see the actual voltage of the 96 cells (actually three cells in parallel) in his pack, out to three decimal places. By watching the voltage as the pack gets near the bottom, he should see one or more cell’s voltage drop over the knee in the voltage curve. I would be amazed if all 96 were deteriorating at the same rate. I suspect he has one or several bad cells. He will even know which module they are in. And most interesting he will be able to watch the total battery capacity drop over time.

I average 5 miles per kilowatt hour and get nearly 300 miles poorer charge.

You need to take your Bolt to the dealer and get a professional opinion.

My Bolt’s screen estimates have been spot on. After a night’s charging I register 230 mile range or more, with the hill reserve on (charging only 90% capacity). On long drives (such as up and over the mountains from Los Angeles to Lancaster) I have been surprised to only find about a 10% penalty for the hilly terrain. Everything has been very predictable and without problem in the City. I’ve only needed to be slightly aware when going beyond, such as a couple of trips to Palm Springs where I just made sure to stay at a place with a charger for overnight charging.

Like some others I would be concerned that you may have a battery issue and I’d have it looked at soon.

Brad, I hope you take your Bolt to a qualified dealership very soon and have the problem properly diagnosed. The solution to this “riddle” is most likely a few bad battery cells and/or in need of a software calibration update. A few of the early 2017 Bolts had/have bad battery packs and GM will either replace the bad cells, replace the whole pack, and/or update the battery calibration software/hardware.
Looking forward to reading the follow-up article once you have had a proper inspection by GM.

This will be an interesting situation to see play out. All the previous defective packs have had rapid loss of capacity. The two battery management updates are to prevent the Bolt from stopping on the highway without warning. GM has been monitoring all the Bolt batteries, and contacting owners when they see the problem develop, often before the driver is aware of it.

Brad’s situation appears to be different. Our 17K mile Bolt has less than 56 kWh of usable capacity. I don’t expect GM to step up until it hits 36 kWh of usable capacity. Brad being an EV journalist, GM would feel pressured to replace his pack before it reaches the warranty limit. But they also know that owners, like me, would be upset by preferential treatment.

Let’s add that the battery issue is not some widespread problem. “All previous defective packs” likely are a fraction of 1% of all Bolts out there.
I’m curious if the author’s Bolt has had the BMS updates applied that solve the “suddenly dying on road” problem that a handful of owners suffered, and that the updates solved the problem by locking out the portion of the battery pack that went bad. Of course you would think the car would throw several error codes if that was the case.

I agree that the percentage of faulty packs appears to be pretty small. But I also suspect GM’s decision to build a battery assembly plant, along with LG, next to their test lab in Michigan is as much about control of quality as it is about expanding production.

Thanks to everyone for your analysis and suggestions. I’m going to do all of the above–meaning that I’ll continue to do my own studies and alert GM to do a diagnosis. I should point y’all to the fact that my battery was already replaced once after this event more than a year ago:

Now that folks are saying my Bolt’s capacity is about 40-kWh, check out the second chart in the story–and the final entry there in which I charged from 21.96% to 100% with 34.83 kilowatt-hours. That seems like a big clue.

Stay tuned. And I’m continuing to use the data device on other EVs with reports to come.

Gad! I had forgotten you were one of the unlucky ones. The fact that your second battery appears to be a stinker is not encouraging.

You definitely have had a bad run of luck with that particular car…seems that your 60kW battery pack is only giving you a power capacity of only somewhere between 40 to 48kW! Hopefully the dealership/GM fix it properly or just take it back and give you a new one (yours obviously happens to be a lemon!).
My experience, with two 2017 Bolts and over 24K miles on each, has been just great with an average range anywhere between 200-270 miles under all driving conditions over the past two years. Good luck and looking forward to the follow-up!

Seems like the problem is with your GOM. You report averaging 3.9 miles per kWh on the trip. And your global average is 3.8 after 8k plus miles. Your display shows 25 percent energy left in the battery at the end of the trip, yet your GOM shows only 35 miles of estimated range. The Bolt’s battery stores 57 kWh of energy. A quarter of that is 14.25 kWh, times 3.9 miles per kWh average for the trip, equals 55.57 miles of estimated range. You say your GOM never displays more than 160 miles of range even after a full charge. With your 3.8 mpkWh global average, at least some of the time your GOM should display 215 miles of range. Problem is with the GOM. By the way, the advertised 238-mile range is just an EPA-approved estimated average to give consumers a general idea of the vehicle’s capability. Actual range varies wildly depending on weather, terrain, speed and driving habits. In the summer months I can get as high 340 miles of range versus only 120 miles during winter months when the temperature drops significantly below zero.

Soemthing that would help in the case of the Chevy Bolt would be to select the Driver Information Center setting for the more techical display that modifies the gauge on the left to show predicted range based on current behavior as well as maximum and minimum predicted range. The elephant in the room is not knowing how much energy the HVAC system is going to use. Preconditioning the car while it plugged in helps a lot. Of course the energy used to heat up or cool down the car still costs money, but the energy does not have to be substracted from the high voltage battery where the energy could be better put tomuse for driving. If I drive my Bolt while when the car has been sitting cold and the windows need to be de-iced, the energy consumed by the heater is almost as much as the energy used for driving. When then weather is very cold, the car will also turn on heat to warm the battery to acceptable operating temperature. Heat is the real range killer. On the Bolt the power consumed is 1:1 due to the fact it is resistance heat. On other cars like some… Read more »

So what was your actual kwh/mile efficiency?

Totally practical… until you need to charge. Like right smack dab in the middle of your shift, and again before you go home.

Totally practical… until you get to the charging station and it’s full of Uber drivers.