Something else for the EV

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.

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Something else for the EV

Car-cicle, Car-cicle, I want to ride my…

What? Don’t like Queen? (I could have gone with Ice Ice Baby too…)

Oh great ice, that means another winter weather post…yup.

Bolt-cicle

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):

Precondition #1 note windshield

Not bad, the front windshield has a large clear area as does the passenger window. Lets try another precondition:

All clear!

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.

Car-cicle, Car-cicle, I want to ride my…

Winter is upon us…finally

Hey look a cold weather posting 😉

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.

Winter is upon us…finally

Bolt vs Car Wash part 2

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….

Until now…

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.

Bolt vs Car Wash part 2

New Features?

Its always fun to find/hear about new features. Whether that is a feature of your car, phone, computer, whatever. In the past your discovery of said new feature was due to re-reading the manual or finding some tidbit online as your device didn’t get an update. Today, however, new features are found by simple software updates (lately every 6 months or so you get a whole bunch of new Windows 10 features–and bugs–with their semi-annual updates). Tesla has been in on this game from day one issuing software updates to their cars on a regular basis (including introducing features such as Monty Python searching, and making the car fart ! LOL).

Traditional OEM’s haven’t joined the party just yet as not many will do an over the air update to the same extent as Tesla (Ford does allow you to download Sync updates to a thumb drive and it appears that Chevy can update the radio via WiFi–my Bolt hasn’t done that yet). One easy way traditional OEM’s have been able to get in on this game is via their mobile apps: These are regularly updated and, sometimes, with new features.

I happened to be reading an Inside EVs article about GM partnering with several charging providers and read this little nugget of info:

The myChevrolet app was recently updated to enable projection of the Energy Assist feature to the vehicle’s infotainment system via Apple CarPlay2 and Android Auto3 for drivers with model year 2017 or newer Bolt EVs.

Inside EVs

Since I have an Android phone I only see the five buttons across the bottom of the screen: Map, Phone, Home, Audio, and “Car”. The Home button really only shows you a list of current things (much like the notification menu) so where could they have hidden this new menu? (On Apple Car play you get a proper home screen with icons–I’m sure the new feature just shows up as a new icon although I haven’t plugged an iPhone in to find out.)

Well after poking at the screen for a few minutes it turns out that you just have to hit the “Car” button and it lists either “return to native” (e.g. the car’s normal screen), or myChevrolet. When you hit myChevrolet you see this:

Woa..a place to show the battery % value (at left) and what it would be if you drove to home or work. Cool! But wait, there is more, tapping on the left panel (“My Energy Level”) shows the Energy Assist screen:

This is the same “how far can I go” display that you can see on the app but in the car. Better yet you see your current battery %, and your home and work programmed points. If you tap on the triangle position indicator (which seems to be hidden in this image) it zooms in to a block level view for a minute or so. You can also pinch to zoom, drag to pan, etc. on this screen. Tapping the lightning bolt at bottom left pops up a list of the closest chargers (and what your battery level would be if you drove there from your current position).

Of course this display isn’t without its bugs: Several times while exploring the feature (and leaving the map display up while driving) I would get a “lost vehicle data, next time you’re parked unplug and replug your phone to restore” (or something to that affect) message.

Still its nice having that “how far can I go” map displayed on the main screen in the car. Almost makes you want to take another road trip….

New Features?

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