Power from the car wash?

What? Oh yeah and Happy New year.

The Bolt is the first EV/plugin that I’ve had that has had a “one pedal” driving mode. In short: “one pedal” mode is where the car will use regen to come to a complete stop if you lift your foot off the accelerator pedal. This means you can drive with just the accelerator as the top few percent of the pedal position will actually slow the car and stop it. This also means that if you move the car slowly without your foot on the pedal you’ll put some electrons back into the battery.

Now, curious minds inquire: What happens if you take your one pedal car to the car wash and leave it in one pedal mode there? (By car wash, I mean ones that you put a wheel in a track and a roller drags the front wheel down past brushes, curtains, and, finally, a bunch of blowers.) Will the car wash error out by the braking of the car? Will you get any power out of regen? (ooh electricity from the car wash! LOL) Does this even deserve a blog post? (why yes I was curious)

Well I’ve done it twice now and: Yes the car wash pushes the car along in L (one pedal mode), the car wash doesn’t error out or stop, and it looked like I got a little power out of it (less than a kW of course). Now I didn’t try this through the whole car wash–yeah I was chicken, I may try that once. I waited until the last little bit through the blowers (and no one behind me) before shifting to L from neutral. It makes sense that it would work: the car wash runs slow enough and should be powerful enough to pull through a bunch of cars and pickups. With just me there it was happy to push me along giving me some amps at the same time.

Of course this was just an experiment: I don’t think it would be cost effective to try to charge up using car washes! (Perhaps I should submit this as a question for XKCD’s what if to see “how many car washes to charge my battery”? LOL I’m sure my electricity rates are much much cheaper.)

This also brings another question to mind: Chevy/GM says not to flat tow the Bolt at all. If you want to tow the Bolt it must be on the dolly (and you have to do some 12V battery stuff to disable everything). What if you were to flat tow it, but just leave it in L/one pedal mode. Sure it would put some drag on the towing vehicle (er RV! LOL). Would it reduce the RV’s mpg a lot? Am I willing to try this? (well no because adding the equipment to flat tow a car to the car is more expensive than the dolly we use and just for an experiment..sigh nope) Another issue with this is what the car will do once the battery is full–presumably regen would stop and the car would reduce the rolling resistance (kind of like descending a tall mountain).

Power from the car wash?

Warm/cold? what?

As I type this its 52F outside a tad bit warm for this time of the year in Southeastern Michigan. Go a few hundred (ok like 500 or 600) miles to the West and they are seeing blizzard conditions with temps below 0F.

Oh great, thinks dear reader, another cold weather post…here we go again!? LOL Well, to be fair, I haven’t posted nearly as much as I did that first fall/winter with the Focus Electric (FFE). That first cold season was brutal and provided plenty of blog fodder for managing a short range EV in the winter.

Now, with a 200+ mile range EV and a milder winter (so far) its been barely noticeable–at least in terms of range/comfort management. Sure the car is down to about 150+ miles on the guess-o-meter (GOM) when “full” (I’ve been using the hilltop reserve so it doesn’t charge all the way up since I’m charging nightly now). Just like with the FFE I start my day out with a full “tank”, but unlike the FFE I still have 3/4 or 1/2 a “tank” left at the end of the day and no need to utilize any public charging.

I’m sure the cold days are coming (usually its January & February that are the coldest around here but Mother Nature always manages to slip in a snowstorm in April or even May sometimes). Thus I’ll still get the chance to see how the Bolt handles very cold and ice (I’m guessing about the same as the FFE did).

For now, however, I’ll just take a walk outside in flip-flops, shorts and a t-shirt. 😉

Warm/cold? what?

What, exactly, is in there?

Courtesy of Inside EV’s I’ve found a long (hour) video breakdown of the Bolts electric motor. Its fascinating for its size and things that are there:

It looks very similar to the Focus Electric’s motor in that the driveshaft goes straight through the middle of the motor. The reduction gearing also looks similar–granted traditional car engineers designed it so I would expect some similarity.

One thing that I find really strange is that shifter. The PRNDL inside the car lets you select what “gear” the car in that causes an external motor to move a level selecting a gear in the Bolt’s “transmission”. Inside, however, is just a sensor detecting what “gear” has been selected (discussed starting about 5:30 in that video, and further at about 19:00). I find this a little odd: Why not just have the PRNDL in the car go directly to the motor controller? (My speculation is that the signal from the PRNDL to the transmission is likely some GM standard and that the signal coming out of the transmission to the motor controller is not. This would make it easy to drop in other GM vehicles that have an electronic PRNDL.)

There are other videos in that series that go in depth about various systems in the Bolt. As of this writing there are two additional videos: One about the coolant system and another about the high voltage components. All very interesting!

What, exactly, is in there?

Snow, and defrosting

With winter well on its way one often wakes up to a car covered in snow. Sometimes a lot of snow, but mostly 1″ or 2″ is what we get in Southeastern Michigan (lake effect snow from Western Michigan sometimes makes its way all the way across the state and peters out over the Detroit area).

With the Focus Electric (FFE) I had it set to precondition itself every morning. About 30 minutes or so before I would leave for work it would fire up the HVAC system in the car and heat the interior to a balmy 80 degrees (F). On weekdays with said lake effect snow this means I would wake up to only the roof and hood having a little snow on it. All the windows would be clear from the preconditioning (and the inside was quite warm).

The Bolt, on the other hand, doesn’t have such a setup. There is no way to schedule it to power up and heat up the car. I have to remember to remote start (or precondition as the app says) every morning–if I don’t then its the same as any other car: scrape the ice off. Now when I do remember to precondition the car does warm up: turns on the HVAC, seat heaters, and steering wheel heat. After a small snow and precondition the car will look something like:

This isn’t quite the same result as the FFE. Still works, however, as the snow on the windshield was melted enough to clear off with the wipers. The Bolt only seems to want to run the HVAC for only about 15 minutes before shutting it off (even though it is plugged in to the wall). I think I can get a 2nd chunk of time by asking it to precondition/start again.

Still not quite the same nice drive away ready condition the FFE was automatically left in. Ford: 1, GM: 0 (ok I’ll give GM a 1/2 point for having the heated steering wheel–that is pretty nice): GM: 0.5 LOL.

Snow, and defrosting

New Charging strategy

Yeah ok its a cold weather post..got ya! Well not entirely…

A few things changed the past week to alter how I’m going to be charging the Bolt. To recap: Since I picked up the Bolt I was able to get about 250 miles or so per full charge. Of course this was all during the EV friendly summer months. This meant that I could charge up overnight and drive it for 3 or 4 days without having to charge again. A bonus since our C-Max would need to be charged every night.

Now that we’ve turned in the C-Max as its lease was ending and the weather has been consistently freezing overnight I’ve changed things up. Once again the Bolt can have exclusive access to our plug. The new/winter strategy is now: turn on the “Hilltop reserve” so that it only charges up to 85%-90% and plug in nightly. This will do two things: 1. Not charge to full preserving the battery a little bit (by getting a 2018 Bolt and not a 2019 Bolt I missed the nifty “charge to” selection on the dash), and 2. Allow the car to maintain the battery overnight (e.g. heat it) for those cold nights which is especially important for the Bolt as it spends its time outside of the garage (we’re still a 3-car family and I like to keep the Bolt accessible since its the car we drive the most).

I’ve been getting just about 200 miles a charge in this weather, well at least according to the Guess-O-Meter on the Bolt (which seems to be quite a bit more accurate than the one on the Focus Electric). I really only need about 50 miles or so a day of that which means I can run the heater all I want and still have range to spare. By plugging it in daily I’ll have all that for every day during the winter, and if the range drops further (which I would expect as our temps head relentlessly towards 0F) I’ll still have a significant buffer for my daily commute. Gone are the days of driving with the heater off, wearing a blanket, a sweater+winter coat, and cracking the window to keep the windows defrosted.



New Charging strategy

Its a long road ahead

Had another opportunity to take the Bolt out on the road and stretch its legs or rather the battery.

This trip was very similar in length to our last long drive; about 85 miles each way. The difference this time was that the weather was significantly colder and less EV friendly which means we’d have to use the heater. In addition we didn’t have the car filled with people; just 3 instead of 5.

The trip out started with sunny skies and upper 50s (F) temperatures. I was able to drive most of the way with the HVAC off and cruise set to 71 mph. This trip used a little less than half the battery with the guess-o-meter (GOM) showing around 120 miles left in the tank. The trip back, however, started in the lower 40s and ended in the upper 30s. I had noticed that the GOM’s range to go was dropping much faster than Google’s estimated distance to our destination so I started modulating the defroster trying to keep our buffer at around 20 miles (keep the GOM’s value 20 miles larger than the distance to our destination). This worked quite well and even kept the passengers comfortable. Arriving at our destination with 20 miles to go and the car complaining twice that we should plug in really soon now! Total distance on the trip meter was 175 miles.

We even had a fellow EVer for a travelling companion for part of the trip:


Hey that’s a BMW i3. Oh wait I can see a gas filler..its an i3 Rex that’s cheating ! LOL.


Its a long road ahead

Whats that on my window..

Yup its that time of year again: When my incessant complaining about cold weather begins LOL.

Today marked the first overnight frost of the season for us here in Southeastern Michigan. When I was driving the Focus Electric (FFE) this meant the beginning of some extreme measures to eek out enough miles for my commute.

The 70 miles of summer range of the FFE would easily diminish to half that on those really cold January and February days–even if I wasn’t using the heater (although the car would just to get the battery to operating temperature).

Now with the Bolt were talking 60kWh vs 23kWh so I have almost triple the battery capacity (easily 3x when considering the “usable” capacities). Even if heating in the dead of winter uses up 1/2 the battery I still have more than enough for the commute.

Better still are some cold weather features the Bolt has that the FFE didn’t. The only really nice cold weather feature of the FFE was scheduled preconditioning: I could set it to be a nice and toasty 80F right when I was ready to go to work (which would frequently melt off any snow on the car’s windows). The Bolt, on the other hand, doesn’t have scheduled preconditioning but it does have automatic seat and steering wheel heat. With the HVAC system on auto when I first get in the car on really cold mornings the driver’s seat and steering wheel heat is automatically turned on (this is a bit more efficient than heating the air and it does get warmer faster than the HVAC system). Granted that doesn’t melt the snow off the windshield though.

So this morning I find the Bolt covered in frost. A remote start while I’m getting ready and 10 minutes later no frost. In addition the seat and steering wheel is toasty warm. I didn’t have it plugged in so that 10 minutes sat there and consumed a bit of battery…but it didn’t matter I still had about 180 miles of range to go. Ah the joys of a big battery to overcome the lack of fire…


Whats that on my window..