Been a while since the last post. Not really a lot to post about lately: The Bolt is doing well–still only saying about 150 miles on a hilltop-reserve charge. Soon, however, things may change.
In our neck of the woods the weekends forecast is calling for temperatures in the 50’s F. The following week looks even better, perhaps hitting the 60’s F. This would mean that my Guess-O-Meter range should start to gradually creep up with the temps as it will have to use less and less heat.
Around this time of year people start getting pretty “spring crazy” as they eagerly anticipate the warmer temperatures of Spring. (Word is that nobody does opening day like the Detroit area–having been to a few for different teams I would have to agree.)
Its so easy to not post–much like anything I suppose. Probably why many blogs (and podcasts) don’t last long. You get back to living life and forget to post and suddenly its 3 weeks (months, years, ahh forget it) later…
We recently took another ~90 mile trip, but this time we used one of the gas cars instead of the Bolt. The trip was similar in distance to our Frankenmuth trip we took the Bolt on. Being in the middle of winter, however, makes a difference on if we can EV it or not.
Even though this particular trip was to the south it wasn’t near far enough to get to warm weather. Right now the GOM is showing about 130 miles of range (hill top reserve mode on so I probably could cram another 10-15 miles in to “full”). Thus we would need to charge at the destination and since we weren’t going to be there long enough (I’d estimated the trip would take 40+ kWh to get there meaning we would need somewhere around 30 kWh charge to get back which would take about 4 hours on a Level 2).
The funny thing was: Once we got there the parking lots were quite full, requiring us to park far away from where we were going. While driving around looking for a spot to park we discovered a charge station really close with no EV charging ! LOL So we could have taken the Bolt and just stayed a bit longer. In addition there are at least two CCS stations on the way home that we could have stopped at and not had to wait as long. Sadly, however, the family isn’t as adventurous as I am and didn’t want to try.
I keep reading in articles that “EV’s aren’t quite there yet” for everyone. Given my experience I would kind of agree but I would also add that everyone isn’t there yet for EV’s either.
Owning an EV can sometimes be like owning an RV in that you collect various accessories for it. You’ll find yourself in that odd situation where your RV is too far from the water spigot so you pick up that extra 25ft reel of hose, or you notice a cool new gadget that makes it easier to level, or hey I could add a WiFi extender and cell phone booster…
With the EV you have to pick up at least one EVSE if you intend to Level 2 charge at all (although some of the Level 1 EVSE’s that come with the cars can be modded to work with 240V–but they still wouldn’t charge at the fastest rate).
In my case I collected a few EVSE’s for the Focus Electric (FFE) that have now been employed for use with the Bolt (initially got a Bosch/SPX EVSE, won the Juicebox EVSE, and picked up a Clipper Creek Level 2 for portable charging mostly at campgrounds).
Now our city is telling us the replace some concrete on our driveway–pretty much the whole apron (We have a “sidewalk repair program” here where the city marks sections of concrete that need to be fixed. You have until a certain date to fix them or the city will come along, fix them, and send you a bill–how nice of them).
In the process of getting quotes and details and such I come to find that the new concrete will take up to a month to cure. A month of time where we can’t drive on it. Uh oh..how/where to charge? (yup this is an issue conventional cars don’t have to deal with LOL but then how often do you get your driveway rebuilt?)
Now I could make use of the many local public chargers (both near home, and one within walking distance of work). I get the impression that the one near work is only for guests of that business (since I’ve noticed it, there has been a C-Max (yeah not mine) charging there daily. Now all of the sudden the stations have disappeared from plugshare and the C-Max isn’t there hmm). Just about every Level 2 charger in the area is free so this would actually be the cheaper option LOL but I’m not all about that when I can get some fancy accessory:
What is that? Its a 40ft 40amp J1772 extension cable of course. Now I can park the car in the street while we have no driveway and still be able to charge. It even comes with a handy lock so people won’t steal it.
Here is what that will look like:
I let the car charge up like that for a few minutes to make sure everything worked (one of the reviews for it said it does get a little warm).
I will still have a use for it once the driveway has cured as well. When taking the Bolt along camping sometimes the electrical access is too far for the Clipper Creek to reach–now they won’t be.
Oh great ice, that means another winter weather post…yup.
This is what the Bolt looked like when I woke up. In the midst of an ice storm here in Southeastern Michigan (this is after a deep freeze last week and springtime temps in the 50F’s over the weekend truly a dizzying winter). The temperature swings have allowed me to experiment a little with the Bolt.
Experiment #1: How well does the preconditioning work when the car is encased in ice (the ice appears to be a little less than 1/4″ thick and is very granular in nature–not really a continuous sheet).
Well here it is after one precondition (10-15 minutes):
Not bad, the front windshield has a large clear area as does the passenger window. Lets try another precondition:
Look at that! The entire front windshield is clear as is the passenger window (and rear passenger window also has some clearing). As well is some of the front hood. (Temps are hovering around freezing.)
This is after about 1/2 hour of total preconditioning (it runs about 15 minutes per start).
I had also documented a similar experience with the Focus Electric (FFE) (however I can’t seem to find those photos). That experiment was with about 1″ of fresh snow on it and after 30 minutes the results were similar to the Bolt’s above.
Experiment #2: How sensitive is the Bolt’s Guess-O-Meter (GOM)?
The FFE’s GOM was really sensitive: If you drove on the highway you could see the range to empty fall really quickly, then once you exited if you drove slowly for any length of time you could see the range increase dramatically.
On the Bolt the trip meter will display your average consumption since last reset in miles/kWh. In the summer I can get 4+ miles/kWh (which yields around 250 miles on a charge). During the deep freeze using heat, etc. It was reading around 2 miles/kWh (and thus the GOM was showing 120 miles or so).
The experiment: How fast does the GOM react if I get that miles/kWh value back to 4. For the warmer days I was able to drive around with the HVAC off and get as high as 4.5 miles/kWh (now that its closer to freezing it has fallen back to ~4 except for when I have to run the HVAC to clear the windows).
What did the GOM do? Its still reading around 124 miles of range on a full charge even though I’ve been stretching it. Thus it is far less sensitive than the FFE’s GOM (by now the FFE would be reading its max range). It does give the car a less “flaky” feel to it even though in rapidly changing conditions like this it may be less accurate.
This is interesting: The local power company has pledged to invest about $13 million in EV infrastructure projects. You could say they are late to the game, but they have been doing things like this all along (They are our utility company and provided us a deal for our Level 2 EVSE installation six years ago).
Here we are in the depths of winter and we’re finally getting substantially cold weather (this morning the Bolt’s thermometer read -5F, tomorrow’s low is supposed to be -15F–just about the coldest it gets around here). The news has been reporting that this is the coldest spell we’ve seen since the 1990’s. Interestingly enough if I check the archives it was -14F back in January 2014. That was when I had the Focus Electric (FFE) and posted a ton about it being cold.
Today and tomorrow a bunch of stuff around here is closed (and people are advised to stay indoors if they can). Thus I have no reason to be out and about–except to see how the Bolt handles the cold temps of course.
This morning with the -5F reading on the thermometer it was also only showing a 116 mile range to empty (this is with hilltop reserve turned on thus we could add about 10% or so to get the full range). Note that this is less than half the summer range and also note that since I don’t need to stretch the range like I did with the FFE I just leave the climate control on a nice toasty 72F all the time (this also means the graph showing where power is going to does show roughly 50% of the power going to climate control).
I have yet attempted any “extreme cold” driving in the Bolt as that is unnecessary for my usage. With the FFE to make my round trip to work and back I’d have to wear several layers, leave the HVAC on fan, and precondition the car to 80F. With the Bolt I just leave the HVAC on its 72F setting, precondition before leaving to go to work and go. Its a nice comfortable ride in. When I get home I usually have over 50% of the battery charge remaining..
I’ve also had the chance to drive the Bolt in the snow a few times. I’d say that it handles as well as the FFE did (or as bad as if you think the FFE handles bad in the snow). It has similar low rolling resistance tires and thus slips around about as much. I do find that when starting from a stop on snow/ice it does accelerate quite a bit faster than the FFE did (the FFE was the worst on ice from a stop–just barely moving). The only issue I noticed was that it seems the Bolt has lower ground clearance than the FFE did, but it can’t be by much. Even in rutted snow the Bolt moved along without issue.
Hopefully this is the worst that winter has in store for us in Southeastern Michigan, but I doubt it.
In a past posting I had described how I was experimenting with regenerating a little (very little) bit of energy by leaving the Bolt in L (one pedal mode) while going through the car wash.
Since I wasn’t really sure what would happen I would start the car wash in neutral (“car wash” mode as described in the owner’s manual). Then at some point near the end, just prior to the blowers, I would shift to L and the car would roll along regenerating a watt or two (probably less LOL).
Car Wash 2 Bolt 0
Thus I haven’t had a chance to try it for a full car wash from the very start….
I pulled in and let it just stop (in L/one pedal mode). The operator hit the buttons to pop up a roller to push the car along. As soon as the roller hit the rear wheel and the Bolt moved a little the car freaked and engaged the e-brake. (The roller proceeded under the wheel towards the front wheel.) I was able to disengage the e-brake and put the car in neutral before the roller hit the front wheel. The operator just shrugged and mouthed “it happens” ! LOL
Car Wash 2 Bolt 1
Clearly the engineers were concerned about the Bolt rolling somewhere uncontrollably and thus put in the software an aggressive strategy for engaging the e-brake (indeed its no wonder the instructions for towing the Bolt call for disconnecting the 12V battery so all the computers are shut down). I would bet that this feature is some sort of hill stop protection. Can’t really blame them as this is a safety issue–just takes away a little bit of car wash fun LOL. Now it is possible that, had I put it in neutral first before putting it back in L it would have worked fine. That will have to wait for the next car wash.