Chevy Bolt One Month Evaluate — Nonetheless 4½ Stars

A couple of weeks in the past, I wrote a narrative concerning the 2017 Chevy Bolt my spouse and I bought in June. There have been two issues concerning the automotive that made it engaging to us. First, though it was a 2017, it had solely 26,500 miles on the odometer and it had a brand new battery pack put in in Might, which suggests the battery is below manufacturing facility guarantee till Might of 2031 (assuming, in fact, the Common Motors remains to be in enterprise by then.) Second, it’s eligible for the federal $4,000 used EV tax credit score.

A 3rd issue is that whereas we most likely overpaid a bit contemplating what new ones are promoting for (if you’ll find one), we additionally obtained silly cash for our trade-in, a 2013 Honda Civic Si. The web impact is that the Civic depreciated by solely $500 a yr since we purchased it in 2015. The market giveth and the market taketh away.

Our Chevy Bolt After One Month

It takes some time to get used to the Bolt. There’s a host of buttons, dials, switches, and push buttons to determine. We have been caught in a cloud burst someday and wanted the defroster. So we pushed the defrost button and that labored effective. However after the rain stopped, we couldn’t shut it off. I believed at first it was on a timer the best way many rear window defoggers are. I believed after we shut the automotive off at house it might reset. It didn’t.

The proprietor’s handbook had no clear clarification. I signed up on the Chevy Bolt discussion board to see if anybody there might assist. [A quick shout out. The people who run the forum are first class. Highly recommended for Bolt owners.] In the end, it was a Google search that did it. It seems you may’t disable the defrost perform (not the max defrost perform) except one of many buttons that directs air to the sprint or flooring vents is chosen. After I realized that bit of data, the issue went away. (There are occasions after I yearn for the great previous days when air flow methods have been managed by levers and cables. I should be getting previous!)

Charging A Chevy Bolt

Chevy Bolt

Picture by Steve Hanley for CleanTechnica. All rights reserved.

Vary anxiousness. Everybody talks about it however many individuals don’t perceive it. They suppose driving an electrical automotive is identical as driving a standard automotive. We’re accustomed to going to a fuel station, filling the tank, and driving till we have to fill the tank once more. It’s like a camel slurping down plenty of water after which heading out throughout the trackless desert to the subsequent oasis. Electrical automobiles are extra like hummingbirds, taking little sips at any time when the chance arises.

Most individuals who don’t personal an electrical automotive don’t have any clue concerning the alternative ways to cost them. The slowest is Stage 1, which is principally plugging in to the closest 120 volt wall outlet. It’s gradual — on the order of round 3 miles for each hour.

The second is Stage 2, which makes use of a 240 volt outlet. Most of us are usually not electricians and don’t perceive that not all 240V circuits are the identical. Some are 20 amps, some 30, some 40, some 50, and a few extra. 60 amps is roughly equal to what you want for an electrical range. The upper the amperage, the extra electrons get transferred to the battery for each hour the automotive is plugged in.

Stage 3 chargers use direct present (DC) as an alternative of alternating present (AC) and they’re obtainable with totally different energy ranges. The naked minimal is 50 kilowatts, abbreviated as kW. Some are 350 kW. Once more, you don’t must be an electrician or know the definition of a kilowatt. Most of us do not know what the definition of 1 horsepower is however we perceive that extra is healthier.

The Achilles heel of the Chevy Bolt is that it may solely settle for about 50 kW of energy whereas charging. The charger itself could also be able to far more energy however the automotive is unable to utilize it. This implies, sadly, that on street journeys with a Bolt, drivers will sit and watch different electrical automobiles arrive, cost up, and get again on the street whereas the Bolt remains to be ready for extra electrons to get downloaded.

That’s the most obtrusive weak spot of the automotive and if that’s a difficulty for you, don’t purchase one. I’ve a neighbor who routinely drives his Bolt forwards and backwards between Ohio and Florida. He bemoans the freeway charging expertise however the ache of spending a couple of extra hours on the street is greater than offset by the enjoyment of not having to pay for a rental automotive for a couple of months. You pays your cash and also you takes your alternative.

Chevy Bolt

Picture by Steve Hanley for CleanTechnica. All rights reserved.

I had event to return to the seller two weeks after I purchased the automotive. I had found a reduce within the sidewall of one of many entrance tires and the seller agreed to interchange it. We agreed to separate the price for 2 new tires, since each entrance tires have been about half worn. Within the service bay was a shiny new DC quick charger that proudly proclaimed it had 50 kW of energy. Woo hoo!

I didn’t need to embarrass the employees by telling them 50 kW is yesterday’s information. This can be a Cadillac/GMC retailer and after they (lastly) begin promoting Lyriqs and Hummers, that charger will not be going to be as much as the duty of charging these automobiles. However for the Bolt it was excellent. I didn’t have to cost up. I had about 75% SOC. However I needed to seek out out what this DC quick charging was all about (did I point out it was free?), so I plugged in.

OMG! I didn’t fairly perceive what all of the brouhaha about CCS vs. NACS was earlier than, by no means having used a CCS quick charger. First off, the cable seemed like one thing you’d use to tie an ocean liner to a pier. And the plug on the top? Yikes, it was large, and hulking, and laborious to deal with. I’m used to Tesla Superchargers. The twine is slim and supple and the connector is that this fantastically designed piece that feels good in your hand. The CCS connector felt like a canned ham as compared.

Chevy Bolt

Picture by Steve Hanley for CleanTechnica. All rights reserved.

Finally, I obtained the Bolt connected and charging started. The automotive obtained as much as 80% pretty rapidly after which charging slowed to a crawl. It took totally 40 minutes to get to 100%. I didn’t have to cost to 100% however I needed to expertise this for myself. Lesson realized. In case you are travelling, cost to 80% and get on down the street to the subsequent charger. Ready to get to 100% is torture and in the end takes longer than charging twice to 80%. That hummingbird analogy is wanting extra correct on a regular basis.

Driving  The Chevy Bolt

I’m pleasantly stunned how good a automotive the Chevy Bolt is. My different automotive is a Tesla Mannequin Y, so my expectations have been excessive. The Bolt is not any Tesla however in some methods I favor it. It truly appears to trip extra quietly with much less tire noise. I get used to the radio and local weather controls. I nonetheless just like the little orange lights that seem within the aspect view mirrors to warn me if there’s a automotive in my blind spot.

The trip is comfy and managed. The regen works marvelously nicely, making one pedal driving a delight. The automotive doesn’t creep when stopped. The guess-o-meter that estimates vary is entertaining because it plummets when going uphill after which provides miles again whenever you go down the opposite aspect. The estimated vary numbers truly correspond fairly nicely to precise miles pushed.

I’ve discovered it’s easier to concentrate to the inexperienced SOC indicator on the left aspect of the instrument cluster and consider it like a fuel gauge. With expertise, I do know if it exhibits a 50% cost I can drive about 125 miles. If I have to go 200 miles, I might want to cost up alongside the best way. If not, I’ll merely plug in after I get house.

I’m utilizing a 120 volt wall outlet at house. It’s painfully gradual, however it’s common for the automotive to take a seat for a day or two with out getting used. Whether it is plugged in all that point, who cares? I by no means must cease at a fuel station anymore and no ever got here and stuffed the tank of our Civic whereas it was parked. It’s all what you get used to. As soon as you determine the brand new regular, the fears about vary and charging principally disappear.

Closing Ideas

There are many complaints concerning the entrance seats within the Chevy Bolt, particularly on early automobiles like mine. How an organization that has made tens of millions of seats might get issues so incorrect is a thriller to me. I discover the entrance seats within the Bolt to be like sitting on a wood bench — and never in a great way!

Chevy Bolt

Picture by Steve Hanley for CleanTechnica. All rights reserved.

I discovered a number of movies on YouTube about how you can add padding to the seats. It seemed like extra hassle than it was price, particularly the half about not damaging the wire to the seat heaters. I checked on-line and located any variety of seat cushions starting from about $25 to over $150 {dollars} however studying the critiques, it appeared folks weren’t thrilled with any of them.

My spouse beneficial I attempt a Cush reminiscence foam cushion so I ordered one from Amazon ($20). It’s nice! I placed on the entrance seat and it’s like I’m driving a Rolls Royce. Finest twenty bucks I ever spent and it makes driving the automotive so far more nice.

Chevy Bolt

Picture by Steve Hanley for CleanTechnica. All rights reserved.

Here’s a screenshot of my newest vitality effectivity report, which refreshes each time the automotive is totally charged. It exhibits I’m driving practically 5.5 miles for each kWh used. That’s fabulous, particularly since a lot of these miles are in pretty hilly terrain. Then again, I’m nearly by no means on the freeway and infrequently want to make use of the A/C.

General, I’m delighted with the Bolt. Yesterday I made a visit via Bigelow Hole, which has plenty of hills and curvy roads main as much as and away from it. It’s a street that I used to savor after I had my Miata. The Bolt flattens the hills and the regen tames the curves in a method that’s totally different than the Miata however simply as satisfying.

I even had a possibility to go a slower automotive on a two lane street on the best way house. The Bolt simply leapfrogged that automotive prefer it wasn’t even there. No throbbing engine. No gnashing gears. Simply clean, easy acceleration. As quickly as I made a decision to go, I used to be by and had the street to myself. Electrical automobiles are superb!

The Takeaway

There are some issues I don’t take care of with the Bolt. To regulate the aspect view mirrors, you first must press both the appropriate or left button after which make the adjustment. It’s an annoying distraction. However I’m studying to essentially benefit from the automotive. The primary few weeks, I babied it, fearing I’d deplete the battery if I drove con brio. However now I’m driving it the best way I usually do, with a sure diploma of élan.

No automotive is appropriate for each driver and a Chevy Bolt does have some limitations which is able to make it not the appropriate alternative for some drivers. However for most individuals, it’s a completely effective car that simply occurs to be electrical. I nonetheless fee it 4½ stars as a result of it isn’t as refined as a Tesla, however it’s a rattling good automotive that’s nicely definitely worth the cash.


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