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…

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

What the FFE got right?

For the last few months I’ve been posting about various features of the Bolt and how they work (or how to work with or around them LOL). There are a couple that the Focus Electric (FFE) had that the Bolt doesn’t that I miss.

The first one is the ability to precondition on a schedule–I’m sure I’ll miss this one even more in the winter (oh yeah I haven’t even started my daily rantings about winter driving with an EV again LOL–I suspect the Bolt in winter will be easier to deal with than the FFE was due to the larger battery). In the FFE you could setup a daily schedule and temperature: “Have the cabin at 72F by 7:00 am M-F”. This was great, especially when I parked it outside. I got very spoiled walking to a 80F car on a cold February morning with 1″ of fresh snow everywhere–except the car’s windows because it had all melted off. Once the schedule was set you could just let the car do its thing and forget about it. Even the C-Max has the precondition schedule although it didn’t seem to work as well: The car didn’t feel like it was 80F or even 70F in the morning (It seems like the C-Max will only precondition for about 15 minutes where the FFE would precondition for a good 30 minutes). Now the Bolt does have preconditioning: There is a “Precondition” button in the app but you have to remember to press it; there is no schedule to setup somewhere to “have the car ready by X:XX time”. At the moment the Bolt is stored outside which means preconditioning will be necessary in the coming winter (to clear the ice/snow off the windows, etc.).

The 2nd feature the FFE had that the Bolt doesn’t is a tightly integrated navigation system. The Bolt has no navigation: it relies on Android Auto(AA) or Apple Car Play(ACP) for navigation. In most ways this is a good thing: both AA and ACP will have the latest version of maps, points of interest, etc. and they are both “free” (as long as you have the expensive smartphone). This is pretty smart on GM’s account as the smartphone navigation features tend to be a little better than the built in ones in cars. Except for the FFE: Ford had integrated the navigation system with the range of the car on the dashboard (I’m sure this was an effort to reduce “range anxiety”) but it worked.

I’m talking about the “Status” indicator on the FFE here. When no destination was programmed into the Nav system the Status indicator would show how well you are driving compared to the last “tank” of electrons. If you were driving “worse” the status indicator would show a negative value (the number of miles you’ll be short). If you were driving “better” the status indicator would show a positive value (the number of “extra” miles you’ll get). In the Bolt a similar display is at the very left of the range gauge–a bar graph showing how well you’re driving against your past driving style.

When a destination was programmed into the Navigation system, however, is when the Status indicator showed its true value. Since the car now knows where you’re going it can compare the range left in the battery with the distance remaining to the destination that calculation became the status indicator. This is the feature the Bolt is missing and can’t really do because the Nav is in your phone which has no knowledge of the car’s current range (they could do it in the Chevy app since it is talking to the car but that has its own list of bugs ! LOL).

I found myself frequently using this feature in the FFE. Now the Nav system has another use: Not only can you use it for directions (very rarely, in fact, in a car that only goes 70 miles) but you can also use it for the “can I make it” questions. I would program in a destination even though I knew how to get there because I could adjust my driving style so that I could make it to that destination (by keeping the Status value positive). This was especially useful in the winter when the car’s range would drop to 50 miles or less.

You could argue, however, that with the Bolt’s 238+ range that such an indicator isn’t necessary and I would agree with you most of the time. There are instances where knowing if you’ll make it or not would be nice especially if knowing you’ll make it means you can increase your speed or use extra A/C or heat. This would have been handy on our long range run we did a few weeks ago.

Of course both of these features are “nice to have” I’ll happily live with the Bolt without them (and if I never had the FFE before the Bolt I wouldn’t have even known about them), but it would have made the Bolt a little bit nicer to live with had they been there.

The real question I have is will the next Ford BEV’s have these features (of course if we ever see any of the Ford BEV’s they have been promising for some time now)?


What the FFE got right?