Camping with a Bolt

Now that camping season is upon us we can include the Bolt. Of course the weather almost didn’t cooperate as about 5″ of snow was forecast for overnight Saturday. Fortunately none of that materialized.

Later on in the season we have a few longer trips planned which include pulling the Bolt; this trip was a mere 90 miles to ensure everything worked ok (also the annual “make sure nothing broke in the RV over winter” trip as well). The results (as you can see above): The Bolt made it the 90 miles on the dolly without major issue. There were some minor things:

  • For some reason a flock of birds decided to target the Bolt (and completely miss the RV) necessitating a car wash.
  • The Bolt briefly panicked and set off its alarm when I reconnected the battery (which included a quick e-mail from OnStar indicating that someone was attempting to steal it ! LOL)

With a weekend trip to a town that is about 10 square miles a fully charged Bolt was more than adequate for any touring and even a drive home if necessary without needing to recharge. Thus I wasn’t able to try charging it up in the campground (in addition: My site only had a 30 amp plug).

One bonus of having an EV at a campground is that you can creep around in the car without anyone hearing you (could also be a detriment if you’re not careful, however, as many campgrounds are quite busy with all the activities and people milling about).

On the whole a successful weekend…bring on smmer.

Camping with a Bolt

What’s charging at Rivian?

Yup Rivian, that Rivian (LOL as if there is more than one).

My daily commute takes me past their Michigan office. Out in front of said office is a row of (at least) 6 Level 2 charge stations (which are not listed on plugshare–I’ve seen a few charge stations disappear from there recently like the companies where they are at didn’t want them “visible” hmmm).

Nonetheless I often see a car or two charging there in the morning when I pass–sadly none of them have been their R1T or R1S–but then I hear they have only one “production intent” copy of each and those are usually off at shows (until production gets going sometime in 2021). Lately, however, the car or two have been all different and varied but today was quite the collection: A 500e, Jaguar I-Pace, Chevy Bolt, and a Tesla Model 3 a veritable smorgasbord of EVs available in the market (only needed an S and X LOL).

The office’s location doesn’t lend itself to just parking your car and walking somewhere (like a mall or something to do) thus I have to conclude that these are likely all employee cars that they left there overnight to charge (I’d guess that since Rivian is an “EV manufacturer” they would also encourage employees to drive electric)–they also could be “competitive evaluation vehicles”; company cars they use to see the competition (although since they make trucks and these are all cars how much competition is there??).

We’ll see what tomorrow brings, maybe there will be a model S or X, perhaps a Kona electric, an eTron, etc. Who knows LOL.

What’s charging at Rivian?

Is it Spring?

At this point we are well into “Spring” here in Michigan. This means Monday is 60F or more and sunny, Tuesday we awake to 3″ of snow, Wednesday rain in the 40Fs, Thursday back to 60F, etc. All four seasons within a week…

This means I’m still charging every day as overnight temps go low enough that plenty of heat is required in the morning. At some point I’ll be switching back to the summer charging cycle of only charging when needed as the summer range is sufficient for several commutes.

The range has been increasing as the temps increase–now up to almost 200 miles (hilltop reserve still on so not all the way to full). Holding it back has been those morning temps: the morning commute has usually been less than 40F and thus limiting the range.

At least this weekend we missed the big blizzard (it passed mostly to the west of us even postponing some MLB baseball games)…

Is it Spring?

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 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.

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.


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