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).
Not the question most EV owner’s would ask. Alternative titles: Taking the Bolt with you, or, even better, burning as much gas as you can with a Bolt (yeah I know–what?).
On occasion I’d like to take the Bolt with us when we go camping; even before picking up one I checked the owner’s manual to see if they can be towed behind an RV. Here is what the owner’s guide says about that:
Tow the vehicle with the two rear
wheels on the ground and the front
wheels on a dolly.
To tow the vehicle from the front
with the rear wheels on the ground:
1. Put the front wheels on the
2. Shift the transmission to
P (Park). See Shifting Into Park
3. Set the parking brake.
4. Secure the vehicle to the dolly.
5. Follow the dolly manufacturer’s
instructions for preparing the
vehicle and dolly for towing.
6. Release the parking brake.
7. Turn the vehicle off.
8. Open the hood.
9. Wait two minutes.
10. Disconnect the negative (-)
terminal connector from the
11. Close and latch the hood.
Ok lets give this thing a go: Steps 1-3:
Note at middle right in the picture above: I’ve added a knife disconnect to make disconnecting the – 12V battery terminal easy.
Step 11: Lets go:
I took the RV/Bolt combo for a short drive: about 8 miles or so, including a 2 mile stint on the local freeway. The Bolt pulls pretty easily, tracks well (about the same as our C-Max and Escape do–since all three are of similar size and weight–within about 300 lbs of each other).
The real trick: Once your done and ready to unload you have to use the key to open the door: all the locks and nifty features of the Bolt run off the 12V battery thus it must be reconnected to use them.
Once reconnected I’ve discovered a few things that the car’s settings lose:
The home location is lost and thus the setting for home charging gets disabled–only the location is lost; none of the settings are. Thus to restore all that must be done is reset the location and turn the home charging feature back on.
The audio cues turn back on (the little jingle it plays on power up). This is even if the setting is turned off–you have to turn the setting on and then off again to get the car to recognize that you want it off.
We’re now all ready to happily burn gas moving our Bolt EV around LOL (this is why I mentioned in my previous post that we’d probably never go a long distance actually driving the Bolt–it will more likely be towed).
Now that fall is here I can start posting about weather and range issues again…! LOL Just kidding. What a busy summer around here with a few life changes thrown in to boot.
As far as the subject matter of the blog here: The C-Max is performing well, however I’ve been noticing some fit & finish issues with it (like any car these days). I’ve got a new commute that is a tad bit longer (+5 miles) than my last one (which brings my round trip mileage to 40 miles). I can still get by using a full charge for one trip on the commute (new job didn’t come with a charger, sadly).
We/I did take a few trips bringing the C-Max along for the ride (one family vacation, and one business trip). In both cases the C-Max was towed along behind the camper and I used the 50A RV plug at the campground to charge it up.
Since then no news from Ford either good or bad (e.g. have the plans changed, will the EV come sooner or later–don’t know…)
Other things: I’ve been able to take the C-Max Energi camping some more:
Here it is with us at the Nashville KOA. It really is a great car for a “toad” (car towed along with the RV). Its small but not too small (same size as an Escape), with a small EVSE like my LCS-20P you can charge it up at the campground and be ready for any adventures/sightseeing/etc. and it can be towed 4-wheels down (we use a dolly so we can take any FWD car). About the only drawback to the C-Max Energi is its weight: at 3900+ lbs it is a bit heavy; enough so that some RV’s may not be able to tow it (the Hybrid version comes in at 3600+ lbs..those 200 lbs fewer may make all the difference).
So, yes, I’m still here and still posting (looks like I’m at a one a month give or take clip)…
But its the only 200+ mile non-Tesla EV around lately.
So what is it now??
Now the Bolt’s owner’s manual is online(pdf) so you can peruse all its features at your leisure. Since we have an RV I searched around for towing–not if the Bolt can tow anything, but if it can be towed. There it is on page 300: Can’t tow it 4 wheels down (I kind of expected that) but it can be towed on a dolly.
For those of you with RVs looking for a green toad here you go, get a Bolt–granted it probably costs a bit more than what you’d be looking for in a toad. Still charge up at the campground on the 50A plugs overnight and you’re ready to go (as long as you don’t trip the breaker LOL).
My 2nd post about combining two of my “hobbies”: EV Enthusiasm, and camping:
Since Ford forbids you from towing the FFE with even a single wheel on the ground I was never able to take it camping–except for one trip where the campground was within the FFE’s range (kind of boring).
The C-Max can be flat towed (we don’t have it setup for that) but that also means you can tow it on a dolly (what looks like the C-Max’s front wheel in this picture is really the dolly’s wheel–the C-Max is parked immediately behind the dolly).
What this also means is I finally get to try out my LCS-20p at a campground. Waaaay back when I first got the FFE I picked up the LCS-20p and made an adapter to work with the 50 amp plugs at campgrounds. (Our only camping trip with the FFE was before I wired up the adapter.)
Once we were all setup (as you see above) with everything plugged in and up and running I dug out the LCS-20p and plugged it in. It flashed all its LEDs as it went through the power on diagnostics and indicated everything was good–yaay that cable I wired up myself was correct.
With the car happily charging we went on with our business. Then about 30-40 minutes later…poof! No power. Uh oh? Was that me? Looking around all the breakers in the camper and out–nope they are all good. Hmmm. Then a neighbor pops their head up: “Do you have power?” “Nope” Wow multiple campsites are down? I don’t think its my cable? The car would not have been drawing much current (the C-Max only has a 3.3 kW charger, unlike the FFE with its 6.6 kW charger now that would have really brought down the system LOL).
A little while later the campground gets the power back up and running: A larger breaker blew for the entire lane we were on–right across the street from us. At this point I’m thinking: Ok it probably wasn’t me charging that caused it with it being a very hot & humid day but it is possible that my car was the little bit that pushed the breaker over the edge. So I decided to forgo any further charging on the car (it got up to 92% anyway more than enough for the weekend).
The next morning as we were getting ready to go out….pop! The breaker blew again. Ah ha! It wasn’t the car (wasn’t plugged in) LOL Knowing what was wrong I waited a few minutes for the breaker to cool, walked over and reset the breaker. A few minutes later a puzzled looking maintenance worker was asking everyone if they had power?? LOL
Now I’m ready for the next C-Max’ing camping trip… 🙂
The BMW i3 has a cool REX option where they include a small motorcycle engine to extend the range by a hundred miles or so. There is another way to extend the range of your i3, if you have the cash:
(Click on the image to see more of the RV)
This form of range extension was featured on the Travel Channel’s “Extreme RV” show.
That’s right: simply build in a garage into your RV. They even wired an outlet into the compartment so that the car can charge while the RV drives down the road (no mention on the website or during the show if the EVSE is a Level 1 or Level 2). The neat thing here is that the ramps extend: You don’t drive the car up into the RV; you just drive it up onto the ramps and then retract the ramps.
The cost of this is completely on another level. There are people who could afford a Tesla Model S at $100k+ but could not afford this combination ($250k+ for just the camper alone, then you still have to pick up the i3). Not to mention that you’ll be burning a lot of Diesel going from city to city.
Comparing the dimensions of the i3 vs the FFE we find that the Focus might be a better fit in there: The i3 is about 5″ taller and 15″ shorter than the FFE. Thus the “garage” could be a little shorter (and longer) to fit the FFE. Here the important thing is shorter–this makes more standing room in the bedroom above the garage. The steep rake on the FFE’s front windshield may also help out since the car is stored on an angle which may allow for an even shorter garage.