You knew it was coming..

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time (well ok at least a year) you knew what was coming: another darn winter weather post lol!

Well yup, and I haven’t even mentioned that Ford will be revealing its long awaited EV SUV on 11/18 (or is it 11/17–I’ve seen both dates published).

Nonetheless Southeastern Michigan (and a whole lot of other areas in the midwest) got an early present from Mother Nature this week. In our case that involved over 6″ of snow and some decidedly January like temperatures.

Of course that happened to fall on a day where we had a place to be across town with a set time to be there. No problem the Bolt can handle it–even when the driver decides to take a wrong turn and gets stuck (a little rocking and we’re out).

The thing with EV’s and snow/ice is that since EV’s don’t generate the heat like a conventionally powered car does the accumulations of snow/ice around the car stick and don’t go away (especially with the packed stuff in the wheel well). No matter, an overnight in the garage melts most of that stuff (I still get some grumbling when turning the wheel all the way one way or the other–must be hard to melt off the stuff really packed back in there). Note that preconditioning the car only heats up the cabin and melts some of it off the windows.

I’ve long since switched the charge routine back to “winter charging” (turn on hill top reserve and charge every night vs charge to full every 3 or 4 days). This routine ensures there is enough charge for anything needed during a winter day (it yields around 150+ miles of range in the cold).

So friends, bundle up as it looks like this winter will be a long one.

You knew it was coming..

Road trippin with a Bolt

Now here is an interesting article (courtesy of PlugShare’s twitter feed) about several people taking long road trips in their Bolt:

Five Inspiring Chevy Bolt EV Road Trips

I’m sure there are many more Bolt owners who have taken a “longer than a tank” drive with their cars. (I’ve mentioned before that I’d be willing but I don’t think the family is up for such a road trip in our Bolt–they’d much rather tow it and bring the RV.) For a long drive it is a bit of a small car to cram a bunch of adults in comfortably but it is doable.

Road trippin with a Bolt

It’s a (insert brand) thing

It is common that you notice more of the car you’re driving (once you get a new, different, car you start noticing that car more). Often you’ll find drivers of certain niche vehicles waving at each other. Something that has been promoted by their advertising (notably Jeep, and Harley Davidson). More ubiquitous cars don’t have such a cult (you don’t see Ford Escape or pickup owner’s waving back and forth–they’d always be waving).

I mentioned this behavior in a past post about the Bolt saying that I think there are too many Bolts on the road to prompt a response from fellow drivers. This may also be reflective of the area I live in: since the cars are designed and, sometimes, built in the area many of the drivers aren’t necessarily owners. (Of course all of this is anecdotal from my sample size of one.) Nonetheless I haven’t witnessed many, if at all, Bolt drivers waving back. (Focus Electric drivers never got the chance to wave since it took too long to get the look of shock off their face at seeing another one on the road to wave at! LOL)

Imagine my surprise, then, when driving down a local freeway a fellow Bolt driver pulls up next to me and waves. Not just the driver, however, every passenger in the car (all children) were also waving and flashing a vigorous thumbs up. After a second or so they sped off on their way. Hey maybe there are a few Bolt owner’s willing to acknowledge a fellow Bolt.

It’s a (insert brand) thing

Construction charging

In an earlier post I mentioned that we were getting some driveway work done where I discussed my solution to charging when I can’t park close to the charger.

Well, that day has come: We no longer have a driveway and have to park (and charge) in the street. Now I can post a similar picture to the one in the above linked post, except that there is no concrete…!

So far so good: No parking tickets (I would hope our local police are a bit understanding in that we don’t have a place to park), the cord was still there in the morning, and, most importantly, the car was fully charged. We will have to live like this for the next 3 weeks or so (once the concrete is poured it can’t be driven on while it cures). Of course I could always charge up at a local public charger (most of which are free–except the fast ones) but where is the fun in that (to be fair I have used many of the local free chargers in the past, and will likely do so in the future this just posed another challenge to overcome).

Construction charging

Travelling with the Bolt

This is a bit different as anyone who knows about EVs will read the above headline and expect a post describing an EV road trip talking about how easy it is to go from A to B, where fast chargers were found, and attempts at debunking the many EV myths about long distance EV travel.

This is not that blog post. Here is how our Bolt goes long distance travelling:

Taking the Bolt for a trip

This summer has been and will be filled with some long-distance (400 miles, 800 miles, etc.) trips with the RV + Bolt combo. So far things have gone well: Bolt pulls very nicely on the dolly behind the RV. I even haven’t had to charge up at a campground–the Bolt’s 200+ mile range has been more than sufficient to handle any running around the campground without requiring a recharge. Nonetheless I’ve been reserving 50-amp sites so that I can recharge if necessary. Now that I have that long “extension cord” I don’t have to move the car close to the power pedestal.

Here we are all setup near Toronto, Canada–visiting our last ballpark (might do a long post about that in the near future as well). I don’t even think anyone gave it a 2nd thought: seeing a Michigan plated Bolt/EV long way from its home–we did notice a few fellow campers pointing out the Bolt, however.

The manual lists a specific sequence that must be performed to tow the Bolt on a dolly (can’t tow it 4-wheels down)–I detailed that a bit in this post. Part of that is to wait 2 minutes and then disconnect the 12V battery. This is required because the Bolt has an electronic e-brake and it really really likes to engage it; a lot. I installed a knife switch to make it easier to disconnect the battery but even so I wrap 3 or 4 rubber bands around the knife switch just in case the “knife” part somehow falls and makes closes the disconnect (with the rubber bands blocking it the circuit won’t be made). Can’t be too careful.

Stay tuned I may have another post or more about dragging a Bolt around–maybe even one that doesn’t talk about the Bolt at all, just some goofy ballparks.

Travelling with the Bolt

A year with the Bolt

Today marks a complete year with the Bolt. My few thoughts on a year:

  • The seats: I find the seats quite comfortable and haven’t had a single issue with them. (I believe GM addressed the seats in the 2018 model year–mine is a 2018. There may also be a difference between the leather seats and the cloth ones.)
  • As far as an EV: The Bolt drives very much like the FFE did: silently, and efficiently.
  • The best part of the Bolt vs the FFE range baby. Its pretty amazing what 238 miles vs 70 miles will do for you. Even in winter I was getting 150 miles. This really was a game changer: I can drive several days without charging and the odd long trip simply isn’t an issue.
  • When parked next to one of our Escapes it looks almost as big but it isn’t: Its skinnier, a little shorter and thus can’t hold as much (although there is a lot of rear seat legroom).
  • There isn’t as much of a “family” of Bolts (e.g. if you see another on the road it isn’t that big of a deal–seeing another FFE on the road is surprising and you usually would get a wave).
  • The choice of included features seems a bit odd: I have the LT trim level instead of premier. It has power mirrors, blind-spot alert, but manual seats, and auto headlamps. It seems like GM just went through a check list for LT: “don’t need that, uncheck, don’t need that uncheck, etc.”
  • The HVAC system still takes some getting used to. In the FFE it was easy to put it into “vent” mode (turn A/C off and turn temp to “LO”) in the Bolt you turn off Heat/A/C but that doesn’t seem to turn off all the high-current HVAC systems.
A year with the Bolt

Adding a new EV to the stable..sort of

Today I added another EV to the garage. The battery isn’t nearly as big as the Bolt’s, its open air, has two wheels, and …. pedals. (Yeah not a motorcycle although those Zero’s look cool but I’d probably kill myself on one.)

The recommendation for this addition comes from a rather unusual source–at least for EV related things: a camping forum. There has been some discussion about eBikes over in a camping forum I follow. I’ve enjoyed the occasional bike ride since I was a kid–I wouldn’t call myself a “serious” rider, just a casual one. The idea, however, of a bike that I could ride for miles and wouldn’t tire me out nearly as much sounded very appealing.

The next decision is: wow that is the most expensive bike I’ve ever purchased (yeah I know you can find bikes much much more expensive but again “casual” rider). At some point, however, you have to decide: either s$$t or get off the pot…

So here we are, an ebike in front of an ecar LOL:

Bike in front of Bolt

That my dear friends is a Rad Mini eBike. Like I said above: $1,499 is the most I’ve ever paid for a bike, but boy is it fun. It arrived today and I’ve already put 14 miles on the thing–more miles than I’ve put on my normal bike in the past year (yeah I said “casual” LOL). I figure I’ll get out on this far more than my old bike.

What to do when you get a new bike? Head off to the local park with a bunch of bike trails (actually two different parks but who’s counting). The thing really eats up the trails and pavement.

All of the Rad bikes have both a throttle (if you’re feeling really lazy), or an assist feature. The assist feature has 6 levels: 0 – 5. Level 0 is no assist–you can feel what it takes to push you and the bike’s mass (31 kg) around. Level 5 is maximum assist: you barely have to pedal to keep moving. The bike has a rotation sensor on the front sprocket measuring how fast you’re pedaling. That speed combined with the assist level determines how much power is sent to the motor. Since its a speed sensor and not a torque sensor it takes about a revolution of the front sprocket before you feel the motor kick in (this invisible hand just pushes you along LOL).

I’ve found, in the short time I’ve had it, that it is really easy to use the gears to set how fast you want to pedal, then you set the assist level to determine how hard you want to pedal. The park I visited is very flat with wide open spaces that are prone to a lot of wind. On the non windy areas I was using level 2 and when the wind kicked in level 3. Both settings made it easy to maintain about a 16 mph pace–a bit faster than the parks 10 mph limit..oops! LOL

At the end of the day, however, its time to pack up the bike and bring it home. I don’t have a rack that can hold the Mini–yet so what to do? Well it has a neat trick: it folds up so I can just shove it into the Bolt LOL:

A Bike in a Bolt

You may be wondering: hey if the bike is doing the work, how are you getting any exercise? Well on 2 or 3 I still have to pedal and help move the bike, and if its more fun I’ll be out using it a lot more than the regular bike–just don’t tell Google fit; it thinks I’m an Olympic Cyclist now.

Adding a new EV to the stable..sort of