Can it be towed?

Not the question most EV owner’s would ask. Alternative titles: Taking the Bolt with you, or, even better, burning as much gas as you can with a Bolt (yeah I know–what?).

On occasion I’d like to take the Bolt with us when we go camping; even before picking up one I checked the owner’s manual to see if they can be towed behind and RV. Here is what the owner’s guide says about that:

Tow the vehicle with the two rear
wheels on the ground and the front
wheels on a dolly.
To tow the vehicle from the front
with the rear wheels on the ground:
1. Put the front wheels on the
dolly.
2. Shift the transmission to
P (Park). See Shifting Into Park
0 206.
3. Set the parking brake.
4. Secure the vehicle to the dolly.
5. Follow the dolly manufacturer’s
instructions for preparing the
vehicle and dolly for towing.
6. Release the parking brake.
7. Turn the vehicle off.
8. Open the hood.
9. Wait two minutes.
10. Disconnect the negative (-)
terminal connector from the
12-volt battery.
11. Close and latch the hood.

Ok lets give this thing a go: Steps 1-3:

boltloadedcloseup

Steps 4-8:

boltloadedstrappedhoodopen

Steps 9-10:

bolthoodopen

Note at middle right in the picture above: I’ve added a knife disconnect to make disconnecting the – 12V battery terminal easy.

Step 11: Lets go:

boltreadyletsgo

I took the RV/Bolt combo for a short drive: about 8 miles or so, including a 2 mile stint on the local freeway. The Bolt pulls pretty easily, tracks well (about the same as our C-Max and Escape do–since all three are of similar size and weight–within about 300 lbs of each other).

The real trick: Once your done and ready to unload you have to use the key to open the door: all the locks and nifty features of the Bolt run off the 12V battery thus it must be reconnected to use them.

Once reconnected I’ve discovered a few things that the car’s settings lose:

  • The home location is lost and thus the setting for home charging gets disabled–only the location is lost; none of the settings are. Thus to restore all that must be done is reset the location and turn the home charging feature back on.
  • The audio cues turn back on (the little jingle it plays on power up). This is even if the setting is turned off–you have to turn the setting on and then off again to get the car to recognize that you want it off.

We’re now all ready to happily burn gas moving our Bolt EV around LOL (this is why I mentioned in my previous post that we’d probably never go a long distance actually driving the Bolt–it will more likely be towed).

Happy camping….

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Can it be towed?

The challenge is gone..sort of

When the first few EVs came out (Leaf, Focus Electric, etc.) which couldn’t even reach 100 miles some negative nancy pundits coined the phrase “range anxiety” for them (something which has been mentioned on this blog a few times). Having driven one (the Focus Electric, or FFE for short) I can happily say that there really is no such thing. Once you’ve driven it for as little as a week you get to know what the car can and cannot do and plan accordingly–the FFE never left me stranded.

In fact, I always considered driving the FFE more of a challenge than something to be fearful. The challenge was always “where can I go today?” and “how can I figure out to get the FFE to there?”–never “Oh no I’m running out of charge!” LOL. That is the thing here: With the Bolt having a range of 238 (or more, the GOM so far has read 250 miles and more for the first two charges) I have none of those thoughts. In fact, I’m finding I can drive it on my commute for an entire week before needing a recharge (it may turn out to be 4 days–since I’ve only had it just over a week and charged it to full twice I don’t quite have enough data for that).

Thus the immediate challenge is gone: I’ve found myself browsing plugshare.com to see where I would be able to charge but frequently stop when I realize that I don’t need any of the local chargers (even the 3 DC fast chargers (DCFC) within a few miles from my house).

In reality, however, the challenge has just been moved further out. Since my day to day or even weekly needs are met by the range of the Bolt I’ve been browsing plugshare to see: “ok, how far can I get with a Bolt via DCFC’s, Level 2’s, or even campgrounds?” Well take a look at this:

DCFCmap

This is the plugshare map of all CCS DCFC chargers in the US. Hmm looks to me like I could make it all the way across the country–almost (at the least I could make it out East from my base here in the Detroit area, or down to Florida without a problem). There are a few gaps longer than 200 miles or so. Who says there is no DCFC infrastructure to support EVs other than Tesla? Look its there–and growing rather quickly. Instead of just one company trying to build out an infrastructure all on its own here are many companies building out a redundant infrastructure. Companies like Dunkin Donuts, AAA, and Walmart–all of which are starting to add (or have added) chargers at their stores (the 3 DCFC’s near me are two Dunkin Donuts and a AAA).

Ironically I’ll probably never take the Bolt on such a journey–if I’m taking a trip that long I’ll drive the RV and tow the Bolt on a dolly (yeah I realize the irony here using the gas powered RV to take the Bolt for a long distance trip LOL). You never know, however, I may do it at least once….just for the challenge of it 😉 .

 

The challenge is gone..sort of

There is a lot going on here

Check out the Bolt’s dash:

BoltDash

This is the “enhanced” view (there are 3 views: ok, better, and this one LOL). The enhanced view shows the most information of all the 3 views.

For the basics you’ve got the speed in the big digits top center (along with a compass above it). To the left is the cruise control’s settings (on/off, set speed). Below that is configurable; things like the radio display, trip meter (as seen here), tire pressure, phone, etc. (Note that there are only 25 miles driven on this charge in city streets so my miles/kWh value is much higher than I’ve been getting. Since I reset the trip meter at full charge its artificially high–I’ve been getting between 4 and 4.2 miles/kWh so far. May have to make another post about the kind of range I’ve been getting; perhaps when I put a few more miles on the car…)

The ring around that display (in grey here) changes color based on your current efficiency (this would be similar to “status” on the FFE except that its more instant efficiency–there is another piece in this display that is closer to the FFE’s “status” indicator; more on that in a moment). The ring changes from green to yellow based upon your current driving style/state. Most noticeably it begins to turn yellow when you go faster than about 65 mph and is full yellow at 70 mph (haven’t gone much faster to see if it goes completely red or not).

On the right is the power display. The number will tell you how much power draw (or generation) the car is using. It turns green for regen (and the little regen display animates). In addition to that the horizontal line just to the left of the 1 kW is a bar graph growing one way for power consumption and the other for regeneration.

Below that is the PRNDL display and the go/no go green car (similar to the FFE’s green “ready to go car”). On the top right is the parking brake indicator.

The left contains the “fuel gauge”: The green bar graph gives you a decent approximation of the % of battery left (with tick marks at the quarter positions). The three numbers comprise the car’s GOM (Guess-O-Meter): The top one is an estimate of your maximum range remaining if you drive as efficiently as possible, the middle one is your range based on your current driving habits/style/etc. and the bottom is the minimum range to expect if you drove it like you stole it. Now there is another gauge hidden here: That grey arc just to the left of the green bar graph. This one is the display that more closely matches the FFE’s “status” indicator (when no route is programmed in). This graph will display how well you’re driving against your past history. If you drive more efficiently a green bar will grow from the center towards the top; less efficiently a yellow bar will grow from the center towards the bottom. This gauge isn’t instant like the power meter at the right; its more of a rolling average–like the GOM itself–so it reacts slower. Thus you may be driving on the freeway at 70 mph and see the green bar grow and think: “what? how can I be more efficient at 70 mph”–its because its more of a trend over your trip instead of an instant value. My guess here is that it is an indication of which range to expect given how you’ve been driving. The closer the bar gets to one of the values (max, average, or min) the more you can expect that range from this charge.

To finish things off: the bottom left has the vehicle’s odometer.

Compared to the FFE’s dash; I like it. Sure it doesn’t display some of the things the FFE did (many of those values can be seen on the entertainment system’s display: like the proportion of energy devoted to climate controls instead of propulsion, electricity consumed since last charge, etc.) and in some cases you get more information (specifically a power value for regen–the FFE just had a twirly thing letting you know it was regenerating).

 

There is a lot going on here

Bugs, we’ve got bugs

I was hoping that once I used a different OEM’s mobile app I would be free of all the bugs that Ford’s MyFordMobile app had. To some extent that is true, but the myChevrolet app comes with its own set of bugs. Here is a good example of one:

2018-06-12 05.51.00

Note that the battery level is at 98% showing 252 miles to go (yup more than the EPA rated 238 on the Bolt–at 100% charge it read 265 miles on the GOM). Tapping “Ok” shows a map with the current location in the middle of the ocean somewhere (didn’t think to zoom out enough to see where in the ocean).

Not sure where the app is reading the location from (the phone, or the car) but in either case it doesn’t have the proper one. I’m guessing its the car because when I used the “save parking location” feature to grab the car’s location the above range warning stopped.

You’d also think that they would disable this message whenever the car is plugged in (it was charging at the time).

 

Bugs, we’ve got bugs

Bolt size, looks

I’ve heard some comments that the Bolt has “that funky EV look”? Really, or are you predisposed to think it looks funky because it is an EV?

Lets compare its looks to a contemporary CUV from a competing manufacturer (yeah ok a Ford Escape LOL):

2018-06-10 09.48.092018-06-10 09.48.202018-06-10 09.48.35

Not that it really isn’t that much smaller, perhaps an inch or two smaller in height and length. The hood is definitely smaller which stands to reason since you don’t need that much room for the electric motor.

The roofline is about the same (and pretty much looks like all CUV’s these days). I’d argue that the rear window having a little bit more of an angle than the Escape gives it a slightly sportier look..but that is splitting hairs.

Interior wise: there is a lot less room for stuff in the hatchback but that may be because there is tons of legroom in the rear seat–much more than available in the Escape.

To my eyes it just looks like another on of the millions of CUV’s on the road–its most distinguishing feature is how they put the “Bolt EV” name above the front quarter panel.

 

Bolt size, looks

This feature looks really familiar?!

This morning I was playing around with the myChevrolet app on my phone. There is a menu item named “Energy Assist – Plan Your Route”. When you tap on it you are presented with a map with your location in the middle with some options. The option on the bottom right with the car on it with a circle around it presents a map shaded with your max distance at the current battery state, and your max distance if you intend to return at the current battery state:

2018-06-06 18.09.57

The dashed line represents how far you can drive and be able to return back to your starting point, the light area is the maximum distance you can go when completely depleting the current charge. This display looks really familiar…very early on in this blog I had made a google map page that would display the same information (given a starting point and some distance the map would display a diagram representing that distance from the given starting point–sadly the map page disappeared thanks to DropBox). Here is an image of that drive distance map:

drivecircle

The shaded circle is the radius entered and the green area is how far you could get driving that distance from the red push pin.

The really cool feature with the myChevrolet app here is you can tap a “What if?” button and it presents you with the display above: Note that slider–yes you can move the slider around from 0% to 100% to see how far you can go on any state of charge given the car’s current position! Nice!

 

This feature looks really familiar?!

Another plugin..a bowtie!

I’m now on my 3rd plugin vehicle, two BEV’s and one PHEV. This one is interesting: I’ve been purchasing Ford’s for the past 30 years or so. Walking into a Chevy dealership was a bit odd and the same (all of the American dealerships are essentially the same–just a different logo on the front of the car). After a few minutes conversing with the salesman the odd feeling disappeared and we got down to business.

I’ve now driven it a whopping 15 miles or so (spent most of the evening playing with all the configuration settings/charge settings/pairing phone/etc.–I may have to make a few posts about that). Took some people for a ride; spoke with a neighbor about it (kind of obvious it isn’t a Ford in the driveway LOL).

This one a is a little different from the one we rented in California: For one thing its in LT trim, not Premier so its missing a bunch of options (like lane keeping assist, the fancy screen/mirror, etc.). Many of those features I’d likely not use so I didn’t get them but the biggest difference is the seats…

I mentioned in my other post about the complaints the Bolt front seats were getting. On the Premier one we rented they felt like the side bars of the seat were too narrow and would press/dig into the sides of your rear. It wasn’t that big of a deal for me as I did fit in between the sides but I do understand the complaints.

On the LT trim the seats are…just fine!? (The Premier has leather seats, the LT has cloth seats). The cloth seats don’t have the bucket feeling like the leather seats do–in fact they feel pretty flat (like inexpensive seats would) and thus there is no issue with them..they feel like any other car seat and are quite comfortable. This also could be a model year difference: The one I rented was a 2017 Bolt and mine is a brand new 2018.

I’m sure my posting rate will increase now that I have something new to post about…stay tuned.

Another plugin..a bowtie!