My Week with a Bolt

Bolt

We just returned from our Spring Break vacation in Northern California. I used Turo to rent the above Bolt. If you aren’t familiar with Turo: It is a service like AirBnb but for cars (e.g. you can rent out your own car to make money–interesting concept that could have a blog post all its own but I’m not here to talk about that).

I did mention in my previous post that the Bolt is a strong contender for my next vehicle. So now that I’ve driven one for a week how does it fare?

Lets start with the looks: I’ve read many opinions about that with a few people still thinking it looks a bit odd which makes it stand out. To me it looks very similar to the other small GM CUV’s (Chevy Traxx or the Buick Encore–of course some may think those have polarizing looks themselves). Comparing dimensions it is very similar to both of those (wheelbase, length, track width, etc.). To my eyes I don’t think it looks much different from a Ford Escape or the C-Max from the side (the front looks much better than the C-Max).

One of the major complaints about the Bolt is the front seats. Now that I’ve sat in them for a week I understand. To describe it: The seats have a curve to them from side to side for both the back and the bottom. It almost feels like a folding chair where the two side bars holding the canvas aren’t wide enough. Thus if your frame fits within the curvature of the seats you’ll be comfortable, if it doesn’t you won’t. For myself: After a few minutes driving I stopped noticing the curve and found them rather comfortable. By the end of the week seat comfort was a non issue as I could hardly notice anything odd about them.

The Premier trim levels of the Bolt get a panoramic rear view mirror. Flipping the day night switch on the bottom of the mirror switches between a normal mirror and the panoramic one. The panoramic one uses a wide angle camera at the back of the car and when in that mode the mirror is just a monitor.

mirror

This takes some getting used to. When driving with a normal mirror you keep your eyes focused at infinity looking in the mirror which makes it very easy to quickly glance in the mirror and back out the front window. When in panoramic mode the mirror is a monitor which means you have to refocus to a short distance (much like looking down at the dash: you have to refocus at the closer distance). Initially I had found it difficult to do, but our car had some advertising on the back window which I found more distracting than the panoramic mirror LOL. After a day or so using the panoramic mode got to be no more difficult than checking the speed, or charge, etc.

One pedal mode: Putting the Bolt in “L” (as opposed to “D”) enables one pedal mode. In this mode it no longer creeps and taking your foot completely off the accelerator will quickly bring the car to a stop. I had briefly tried one pedal mode when driving around a family member’s Model S. I didn’t have enough time in my brief test drive of the S to get the hang of it. On the Bolt one pedal mode is really easy to get used to and a joy to use. You can and sometimes still have to use the brake–especially on hilly San Francisco streets but with normal flat terrain you can get away without using the brake at all.

dash

The dash is a bit simpler than the Focus Electric or the C-Max–although there could be a more complicated display; I really didn’t explore all of those options (this was mostly because I was cognizant that this was someone’s car and I didn’t want to mess with all of their settings). The important things are there and are an improvement on the Ford implementation. The range display at the left, for example: On the Focus electric Ford’s attempt varied widely based on your most current usage (a reason for the Guess-O-Meter name it has been given). On the Bolt that value was pretty stable and you’re also given a Maximum value if you drive super efficiently and a minimum value if you drive like you stole it. To the right hand side (the 7kW value on the picture above) is your current power consumption or regeneration value. This display is similar to the Focus Electric except that it also shows the power value during regeneration–very nice (in addition that yellow line going through the value is a graph that moves up for driving and down for regeneration).

With 200+ miles did I experience any “range anxiety”? Well I can honestly say that I never really had any “range anxiety” when driving the Focus Electric with its paltry 70 miles of range, so 200+ miles was a cake walk. Note that I’m saying 200+ miles here and not 238–the Bolt’s official range–because this car would only “fill” to a bit above 200 miles; most likely due to the terrain. Since we couldn’t charge at home it was interesting experiencing the “find a charger” problem in California. Fortunately I didn’t mind using the more expensive chargers (which were almost always available) because I was just doing an extended test drive and not using them to charge daily. If I were to own a Bolt between its range and the fact that we have a home charger I wouldn’t expect to use public charging at all unless we went for an extended drive.

Fast charging: Neither the Focus Electric, nor the C-Max have the capability for DC fast charging–this Bolt did (its optional on the Bolt). This is a must have. Even if you never use it it will be there for resale value. I did try out fast charging for about 15-20 minutes: plugged in the car, turned on the charger and went grocery shopping. Upon returning to the car it had gained almost 40 miles and was making a racket LOL (something I had expected: all the cooling systems were in full swing).

On the whole the Bolt is a very nice solid car. It has always pretty much been the top contender for my next car since it came out. Now that I’ve experienced one for a week I’m pretty positive it will be my next car (was a little disappointed I had to return it).

 

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My Week with a Bolt

Whats next…

The closer I get to the end of my C-Max lease the more it is apparent that Ford will have no BEVs of any sort available (they will, in fact, have even less plugin vehicles to choose from than when I started the lease).

This means that to get a BEV I have to look at other manufacturers for that battery goodness. From what I can see of the market I’ll have about 6 different options for a 200+ mile BEV:

Going through them:

The Model S, and X are simply too expensive and thus can be ruled out.

The Model 3 just won’t be available as I didn’t add myself to the 300k+ of people who reserved one.

The Chevy Bolt is pretty much at the top of the list because its affordable, and available in my area (and I’ll have some experience with one as I did get to rent one for our next vacation).

The Jaguar I-Pace looks really cool, but it is a Jag…and expensive (although its cheaper than the Tesla’s! LOL). The only way I can see getting one of these is if there is one available at a local dealer and they make a killer lease deal.

The Kona EV….this one has given me pause for consideration: It will likely be the least expensive EV of the list above. The big question here: will one be available (in Michigan) in time for my lease end–I’ll have to see if I can check out an ICE Kona (as Hyundai has been doing the “multiple powertrains available” thing: you’ll be able to get a Kona as an ICE, a Hybrid, a plug-in Hybrid, and a BEV). If I do end up with one it will be the first foreign car I’ve ever owned/driven.

Interesting times ahead…

 

Whats next…

Really coming to an end now..

No, not the blog… ! LOL

Focus Electric (and Focus, and C-Max) production in North America is coming to an end May 7, 2018 (see here). This is a bit of sad news: Knowing that there will no longer be Focus Electrics produced, that I can’t just order another..

As I write this Ford’s plans (at least the ones publicly announced) are to build the next generation of Focus in China and import those to the US (since the US market has really shifted towards SUV’s, cars are “out” these days). It is likely that there will be a Focus Electric produced there since China is really pushing EV’s hard–so it may not be the end of the FFE?

The C-Max Hybrid, and Energi, however are probably done forever. Simply because these cars (well the FFE too) are stepping stones to better plug-ins and BEV’s–at least you’d think. Ford seems lost in a fog these days (and its stock prices reflect that): They tried going old-school when the rest of the industry was marching head first into hi-tech…the stock market didn’t like that.

 

Really coming to an end now..

Time flies…

Here we are, February 2018 already. Wow its been 2 years since I turned in the FFE (and 5 years since I picked it up).

So far 2 years on the C-Max: I’m averaging about 800-1000 miles on a “tank” of gas (in winter I burn a little more to generate heat). This usually means I’m getting gas about once a month. Which isn’t too bad all things considered.

In Ford news they did¬†up their commitment to 40 electrified vehicles by 2022¬†still, however, they haven’t shown a single prototype, rendering, or anything for that matter. This means that when my C-Max lease is up in a year there won’t be anything available from Ford with a plug (assuming they stop making the Focus Electric, C-Max Energi, and Fusion Energi when the Focus plant switches over to Ranger production this year–Focus production is moving overseas).

Given that I have to start looking elsewhere for an EV to lease. The most logical one to choose would be a Chevy Bolt EV (given that it is A) available, and B) a bit less expensive than a Tesla Model 3). To that end we have a vacation coming up…perhaps I’ll try to rent one…hmmm.

 

Time flies…

Well it isn’t working…

A few weeks ago I had mentioned that the value charge/charge now settings were working after I had the telematics module reflashed for a recall….

Well not so much. On any given day there is/was a 50/50 chance that it would to decide to charge or wait to charge (when it always should have decided to wait to charge). So I’m back to just using the default again (deleted the home charge location and simply setup the default to charge between midnight and 6am–all I do now is switch the default from charge now to value charge and back depending on what I want to do).

I found that even watching the screen as I pull up to the house and see it switch over to value charge showing the time that it would start and finish was no guarantee that it would actually do what it said. Sigh..good thing its a lease.

 

Well it isn’t working…

A Tesla in the family

For the past few hours I’ve had this guy plugged into my home EVSE:

Tesla

A relative picked it up and will be visiting for a few days. Now my little 30A @ 240V charger really can’t do much for a Tesla (the Tesla app says its charging at about 20 miles an hour–for this afternoon they have been here long enough for maybe 60 miles of charge). Fortunately for them we do have a supercharger about 20 miles away (which they plan to hit on the way home).

I’ll likely have another post soon after I take it for a spin…

 

A Tesla in the family