Get your (electric) motor runnin’; head out on the highway..

Since we have the RV if we were to take the Bolt on any really long distance trips–the kind where you’d need multiple charges and/or charge overnight–we would more likely plop the Bolt on the dolly and simply tow it. No quick charging required, not pre-planning of the route, etc. Of course we’d burn a lot of gas (yeah negating the “greenness” of having an EV to begin with–but the miles we put on the car that way is a small fraction of the total miles put on the car due to commuting).

Nonetheless I still may want to take a short road trip or two with the Bolt. Perhaps a trip or two may even come close to or be longer than the range of the car, what then? I guess first I’d have to know: for a road trip; how far can I drive it on a charge?

(Now about a week after picking up the Bolt we did have an opportunity to do such a thing: but the driver would have been our teenage son putting some miles in on his learner’s permit and the adult in the car wouldn’t have been me–so we opted to use a different car in that case. The mileage for this case was about 180 miles.)

There is a small town about 90 minutes North of the Detroit area: Frankenmuth. Its known for the Bavarian theme of the town and for yummy greasy chicken. For us its 93 miles from our door to the parking lot there. Perfect: A round trip comes to a nice 186 miles. I proceeded to ask the family if they were up for some greasy chicken (they were and then some…the son invited two friends!).

Doing my research on the net to see if the Bolt is capable of such a thing (you’d think so given that its rated for 238 miles right)? My searching revealed blog posts and news articles that all pointed to something like 180 miles of range with the cruise set at 70 mph (one blog post with graphs seemed to indicate close to 200 miles at 70 mph). Oh!? Hmm better come up with some contingency plans..

Plan 1: There is a campground in town within walking distance of everywhere we were going to go. Great I have a 20kW charge cable I can use at a campground. If I get there and the car is below 1/2 a “tank” of electrons I’ll park the car at the campground and let it charge up while we’re off for said greasy chicken.

Plan 2: Just in case the campground objects to us borrowing a site (I would offer to pay and we’ve stayed in that campground many times in the RV so they know us, but just in case) there are a couple of fast chargers along the route. We could stop at one and charge up for 10-20 minutes (would only need that much to get home anyway).

Ok, now we’re ready: Load the car up with us and two extra hungry teens, its 85F out, set the HVAC at 72F, and the cruise control at 66 mph, its 106 miles to Chicago, we have a full tank of gas, 1/2 pack of cigarettes, its dark out and we’re wearing sunglasses…hit it!

That’s funny, all the readouts about power consumption are doing much better than all the “180 mile” articles said the car would? The dash says 4 miles/kWh (or 250 wh/mile..that is really good, I used to have to work at that with the FFE).

Speaking of the FFE I had often planned this trip but never executed it because it would require 3 stops to charge at 3 hours each…oh well.

Well we pull into the parking lot in Frankenmuth and here is what the car said for energy consumption:

energytofrankenmuth

Wait? What? The battery level indicator was only two ticks below 3/4–ok so we only used 1/3 the battery for 93 miles, not 1/2. That makes more sense given the EPA 238 mile rating (note that I’ve also been getting readings of 250 miles of range on the guess-o-meter after a full charge lately). The car was showing 148 miles of range remaining.

Ok then, no contingency plans necessary. Park the car, have greasy chicken, walk around a bit, and drive home.

Here is the display at the end of the round trip:

roundtripfrankenmuth

The guess-o-meter was showing 56 miles to go, and 1/4 “tank” still available. Wow not at all what I had expected given my research.

My guess is that my 66 mph cruise control setting had a lot to do with the range we got, even though I kept increasing the speed the closer we got home since I could see we would easily make it. The last 10 mile leg of the trip or so the cruise was set to 70 mph.

Still after this experience I wouldn’t hesitate to take the Bolt on a 200+ mile trip somewhere (at least now with a new battery). Very interesting indeed.

 

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Get your (electric) motor runnin’; head out on the highway..

Fill ‘er up…

Its about time I see if the CCS charger in the car works, right?

fastcharge3

Here we are at a local EVgo fast charger. Looks like this one is only 35kW (100A @ 350V). I know the Bolt is capable of fast charging a bit faster. Hmm take a look at this blog post about tapering (reducing charge rate) while charging. It is possible that the 35kW value was limited by the car and not the charger.

Lets look at something else: I only charged for a bit over 6 minutes (really didn’t need a fast charge, just trying it out in the car). Here is what EVgo charged me:

fastcharge4

So 3.46 kWh and currently the car says I’m getting about 4.5 miles/kWh so this means that in 6 minutes 23 seconds I gained 15.6 miles or so for $2.23 (I’m on the “pay as you go” EVgo plan as I don’t plan on using that often so don’t really want to pay the monthly flat rate when I can go months without charging from them at all). That is rather expensive and more expensive than gas in our C-Max (closer to the cost of gas in our Escape). No wonder that charge station remains unused most of the time! (Right next to it are two ChargePoint J-1772 chargers which are free and get more use.)

If we do some wild extrapolation: Had I sat there for an hour (and the car continued to charge at that rate) I would have driven away with an additional 140 miles of range…not to shabby considering the snails pace of J-1772 charging ! (Yeah I’m aware its nowhere near as fast as a Tesla Supercharger, but since the car only has a 60 kWh battery charging at 100 kW isn’t really necessary.)

 

 

Fill ‘er up…

The Tesla invasion..

Hasn’t hit Southeastern Michigan yet. I am seeing more and more Tesla’s when I’m out and about on the roads, however. In the past month or so I’ve seen several Model X’s (different colors so I know they are different cars), and a few Model S’s. I believe I’ve only seen one Model 3 so far–you’d think I’d start seeing more given that Tesla has really started cranking out the cars and deliveries.

Of course Michigan isn’t really a Tesla friendly state: The auto dealers managed to get a law passed “clarifying” that its illegal for OEM’s to have a dealership–must be a franchised dealer not owned by the OEM to be able to sell cars. As such I think there is only one Tesla gallery in Michigan at The Somerset Collection in Troy, MI. That pretty much makes it so only the people that really want a Tesla get one. (Tesla does go to great lengths to make it easy to purchase: You can even order one right off their website.)

(Saw a Model X this morning which was the inspiration for this post…)

Waiting for the 3’s to arrive en mass.

 

The Tesla invasion..

Bolt report two months in

Wow its been almost a month since my last post–time flies if you don’t pay attention!

I guess you could call this my first “long term test report” LOL–unless you don’t think two months could be considered “long term”. (Mid-term?)

I’ve settled on a 1/4 tank charging pattern: When the car gets down to about 1/4 “full” I’ll recharge it. This comes out to about every 4 days (depending on how much I’ve driven on the weekend). It also makes for an interesting situation on that 4th day because we still have the C-Max (my wife has been driving it) and it also needs to be charged up. Since the C-Max can be fully charged in about two hours I’ll put that on “Charge Now” and let it charge up after she gets home, then I’ll switch the plug to the Bolt and let it charge overnight. Typically if its at 1/4 “tank” or less it will need to start charging by 9 or 10pm in order to be completely charged in the morning (even then a few times the app said “full” but the car didn’t think it was full as some of its stats on full charge didn’t reset).

The funny thing about that pattern is: At 1/4 “full” the Bolt says it has about 70 miles of range left in it–about the same as the Focus Electric did on a full charge. In the Focus’ case I would often drive it down to 10 miles or less before charging it up. What a difference having 200+ miles means!

I’ve been playing around with Google’s voice commands when using Android Auto. It seems to be a limited set of what you can ask the phone–for instance: you can do general web searches when talking to your phone, in the car with Android Auto that doesn’t work. I’ve found that only navigation commands (“where am i”, “find pizza place”, etc.) and cell phone commands (“call xxx on mobile”) reliably work. (On the Ford’s most of the voice commands are handled by Sync unless you have Sync 3 which is compatible with Android Auto or Apple Carplay.)

One interesting thing I’ve noticed: If the HVAC fan is blasting away and you trigger Google’s voice input the car automatically lowers the fan setting so it can hear you–a nice subtle touch. None of our Ford cars with Sync ever did that; instead you’d get “I cannot understand you…” prompts.

Since we live in “Ford country” more than a few of our neighbors work for Ford so I’ve gotten more than one funny looks with “Why the Chevy?” questions ! LOL (Um can’t get a Ford EV at the moment–why don’t you go work on that LOL.)

 

Bolt report two months in

Seen on the road..

Wow, two posts in one day…

Head on out to dinner tonight and come across an identical Bolt on the road. A nod to the driver and off we go our separate ways….

Now seeing another Bolt on the road isn’t that unique of an event; before I picked one up I’d see one around here every one or two weeks.

After dinner, however, we saw a much rarer beast: Leaving the restaurant I happen to notice a Ford charge port on the car next to us. After backing out the car is revealed to be a black Focus Electric (FFE)! I really don’t see many of these..even when I had one I think I saw one a year other than mine, and my coworkers. Given that these are that rare it is likely that I’ve seen this FFE before.

The real question, for me, is: Did they notice the Bolt and purposely park next to it….

 

Seen on the road..

Since last full charge

Its been a while since my last post, you’d think with the new car I’d be posting like crazy (and I did for a few days there). The timing was such that we got the car and then went on vacation without the car–oh how difficult was that LOL not driving the car for 10+ days.

The car has an interesting display: Since last full charge. It will display the miles driven and the power usage since the last full charge:

sincelastfullcharge

This display will automatically reset on a full charge–and it has to be plugged in a bit after the car reads 100% before it resets (as I found out once).

In the above picture I even had a little battery conditioning going on as it was very hot here (90+F) for about a week.

Here is what I find interesting about this display: Since the car has such a long range (250+ for me for the last few charges) there may be some “opportunity charging” in there (stop at a mall or store with a free charger–might as well add some miles on since its free) which means this could read more than the battery size.

This was especially true for the Bolt we rented when on vacation back in April as I never charged it to full. When we picked it up it had about 180 miles available on the battery and I would charge it for an hour or two here and there (even used a fast charger once on it, but still not to full). We ended up putting close to 200 miles on it without ever bringing it to a full charge–thus skewing the numbers in this display.

Would it be a little beneficial for these numbers if it also included a number about charging (a simple stat: kWh added since last full charge which would also reset at full charge)? Then someone could glance at it and go “oh yeah I charged a bit in there”.

We’ve only had ours for about a month, and I haven’t really settled into a pattern of how I’m going to charge it (still leaning towards charging it to full over Sunday night so I have the full range for the week, and then possibly charge to full on Friday depending on how much driving over the weekend we’ll be doing). Even with that pattern I find that I’ll sometimes opportunity charge (was just at a movie theater with a charger so I plugged in for 2.5 hours while we watched a movie).

Much like the Focus Electric: There is a bunch of neat (useful?) things that the car displays, but there always can be more. Hey the OEM’s are still learning how to make these EV things (even though the Bolt is GM’s 2nd EV, and 4th modern plugin car).

Since last full charge

What is that noise?

Been driving the Bolt around now for a couple of weeks and I’ve started to notice a very subtle noise it makes. Its a bit odd, almost sounds like something is boiling under the hood. You can only hear it at slow speeds…

Of course many EV owners read the above and knew exactly what I’m talking about: Its the pedestrian alert noise (In Chevy’s abbreviation terms its the PFAF or Pedestrian Friendly Alert Function). New EVs must make some sort of sound by September 1st, 2019 according to the law/rules set forth by congress and NHTSA.

Our Focus Electric (FFE) did not have any pedestrian noisemakers at all. There was some discussion about it and Ford even went to the length of producing some youtube videos asking FFE owners which sound was the best (none of them–they all sounded like airplanes LOL). I got really used to driving the FFE around in silence and never really had a problem. If you think about it: The biggest issue is a residential street with no crosswalks where someone blind could potentially walk out between some parked cars thinking nothing is there. Well if you’re going slow enough you’ll be able to stop in time, and if you’re going too fast the car will be making tire noise but I’m sure there is some sweet spot of speed were you couldn’t react fast enough and the car wouldn’t be making enough noise (its almost as bad as the trolley problem !).

When I searched around the internet I found many threads in different Bolt forums discussing the function. Almost all the threads started with someone asking how to disable the noise because they don’t like it (pull a fuse) with the thread devolving into the ethics of why you shouldn’t (its there as a safety feature to prevent you from plowing into blind pedestrians since they can’t hear the car, etc.).

On my Bolt at around 10-15 mph the noise made by the gears is louder than the noisemaker LOL (sounds like an ICE car in reverse). I don’t know, maybe the car really is too quiet and all I need is a bit more noise from it? Naaaah…I love my silence LOL.

What is that noise?