Published Sunday February 11, 2018:
Chevy Bolt

In the past, I struggled with maintaining my sanity on long road trips. I would get annoyed by other drivers, traffic congestion and would lose my cool when young kids were screaming in the back. It didn’t take much before I would go all Clark Grizzwold and freak out. Because of this, we would avoid vacations that involved me driving long distances. 

Our big vacations were few and far between and when we did travel far, it involved flying somewhere and doing minimal driving in a rental vehicle or being shuttled from the airport to the hotel. That was fine by everyone and it worked for our family. 

Because of my impatient automotive operator shortcomings, I was perfectly happy owning only electric vehicles that by design only had a 40-100 range. 

•Toyota Pickup Truck: 40-50 miles of range

•Geo EV:  60-80 miles of range. 

•Nissan Leaf 2012: 70-80 miles of range.

•Nissan Leaf 2013: 80-100 miles of range. 

Short range electric cars were and still is are the perfect commuter car. I didn’t miss having longer range because I had no desire to go any farther. 

Then one day a switch flipped in my brain. Something changed inside my core. In April 2017, we decided to push the envelope, rent an RV and go on a southern Utah RV road trip. It involved driving 1200 miles and visiting several State and National parks. To everyone’s surprise, I didn’t freak out. In fact, I absolutely loved it. 

Weeks after that RV road trip, I kept thinking back to how I felt seeing those beautiful landscapes and being in and experiencing those desolate and ancient places. I longed to get back there and experience nature in it’s remote and primordial beauty. 

But a short range EV can’t go that far and even with a rapid charging infrastructure it would take far to long having to stop and charge every 50-60 miles. 

The long range Tesla vehicles were still out of my budget and the affordable Model 3 was still years away from being available. 

Enter the Bolt. 

The Chevy Bolt was available in some markets but not in Utah. But somehow, Jerry Seiner Chevrolet in Salt Lake City got ahold of 5 Bolts a couple of months before they were to be released in Utah.  I test drove one and immediately fell in love. 

It was so fast and powerful. It was very Tesla like in its acceleration. It has amazing regenerative braking, great looks, a 60kWh battery which yielded and an amazing 238 miles of range. 

When I traded in my home-converted Geo Metro EV for a Nissan Leaf, the instant upgrade in convenience and comfort made me feel like royalty. Well take that upgrade and double it because it is the same amount of upgrade in convenience and comfort going from the Leaf to the Bolt. 

After 114 days of non-stop thinking about this wonderful engineering marvel, I finally pulled the trigger and took ownership of my own Bolt on August 31, 2017. 

Never in my life have I have ever loved a car more. I love taking it on long road trips. I used to only drive 10,000 miles a year. Now I drive 10,000 miles in 5 months. Oops! Well at least most of those miles are solar powered. Admittedly this bumper sticker, (I’m not going slow, I’m simply driving with more intelligence) is not as applicable as it once was. 

The Bolt is so peppy it’s almost a quantum car in that it doesn’t travel from point A to point B. It disappears from point A and reappears at point B. 

I love jumping off the line at a traffic light or pulsing ahead when you are trying to change lanes. With double the power of the Leaf (160kW vs 80kW) it really does accelerate fast. It has more than double the regen too, (70kW instead of 30kW). You can literally slow down to a stop without touching the brake pedal. It has a very powerful heater (I’ve seen it has high as 9kW) and warms up in the winter time lightening fast. You can remotely pre-condition using the key FOB. Like the Leaf you can pre-heat the car inside an enclosed garage without fear of carbon monoxide poisoning as opposed to every gasoline/diesel car on the planet. 

Battery range is absolutely amazing. Without even trying I can easily get >280 miles of range in the summer time. In the winter time while cranking the heater, range drops to around 180 miles.  I used to drive around 63 mph on the interstate because I was trying to conserve battery range. Sadly I am not as efficient of a driver anymore because this car has so much battery capacity and is too fun to punch and drive fast. In the summer time I charge up the battery about once a week. I plug it in on a Thursday evening and the car is ready to go Friday morning for another week of care free driving. 

in the winter time I do this about 2 nights a week. 

The Bolt has a 60kWh of usable capacity. To have this much usable capacity means the battery is actually around 68kWh in size. 

Data points for when Chevy Bolt gets a low battery. 1/17/2018

Warning: Charge Vehicle Soon 53.8 kWh (10.3% of remaining usable capacity)

Warning: Propulsion reduced (120kW of power vs 160kW on a full battery) 56.2 kWh (6.3% of remaining usable capacity)

Warning: Mileage estimates go away and only blinking low battery warning 56.9 kWh (5.167% of remaining usable capacity)

Arrived Home: 57.5 kWh (60-57.5)/60 = 4.167% of remaining usable capacity. 

Personal record for lowest yet remaining 58.5 kWh (60-58.5)/60 = 2.5% of remaining usable capacity. 

I have never taking it lower than this. 

Because the Chevy Bolt thermally manages its battery pack, I suspect that it’s life will be greatly extended. While a Nissan Leaf battery pack that is not thermally managed is pretty much toast after 100,000 miles or so. The Bolt can do much better. 

Hypothetically supposed you charged the Bolt’s battery every 180 miles. If the battery has a suable lifespan of 3500-5000 cycles, we can estimate that the Bolt battery will last for 180 x 3500 = 

630,000 to 900,000 miles. Geeze the chassis will rust out long before the battery needs to be replaced. 

If the Bolt is what Chevrolet can do when their heart isn’t even in EVs yet, I can’t wait for what the future holds for EVs once the rest of the auto industry finally comes on board? 

Facebook Conversation with Eric xxxx on Bolt page:

Wow! 360 miles on a single charge is impressive. How slow did you have to drive to achieve that phenomenal range?  Of my 761 miles, most was driving on I-15 in Southern Utah through some very rugged country in cold weather with heat on and where the speed limit is 80mph through most of this. I kept my speed at 70mph and under but not by much as it is unsafe to drive so slow when traffic is all going 80+ mph. There was one spot where I was concerned about not making it to the only charging station in 150 miles and dropped my speed down to about 57 mph. It was foolish and dangerous of me to drive so slow when all the traffic is going 25-30 mph faster but I didn’t want to risk running out in such a barren, hostile wilderness. 

I can regularly get 285 miles to a charge when I am driving in the city and keeping my speed below 67 mph. Driving the interstate in the city with where the barrier-walls and other traffic cause a peloton effect and keep the air all moving in the same direction I can get much better driving range.  But out in the middle of the wilderness with frigid cross-winds, high mountain passes, rain, fog and snow, I was lucky to get 180 miles on a charge. 

I have seen my Bolt show as high as 58.5kWh (285 miles) consumed on a single charge but I am nervous to take it any further. I’m used to driving a Leaf using LeafSpy where it will hits turtle mode and stop moving shortly after with 0.5kWh remaining in the battery pack. 

My question that I am trying to convey to you is when you are driving 360 miles on a single charge, at what point (in kWh consumed) does your Bolt display the first low battery warning? Like 56kWh or 57kWh? 

At what point do you get the warning that propulsion has been reduced? 58.5kWh?

At what point does the Bolt stop estimating miles remaining and just displays a low-battery warning symbol? 59kWh? 

And when you hit 60kWh consumed on a single charge, is the car still drivable or are you calling a tow truck at that point. 

If you could please answer these question it would be very helpful for all of us Bolt drivers amazed at your phenomenal driving range on a single charge. 

That’s weird because my Bolt started showing low battery at around 54.5kWh remaining from a full charge.