Chevy Bolt One Week Evaluation – 4½ Stars

Per week in the past, my spouse and I traded in our trusty 2013 Honda Civic Si for a used 2017 Chevy Bolt. Our greatest concern was that 4 days later we had been planning a highway journey to Newport, RI. We by no means fear about journeys within the Mannequin Y, because of the Tesla Supercharger community, however the Chevy Bolt was an entire unknown. I started having flashbacks to the Nissan LEAF we had a couple of years in the past that was fortunate to go 75 miles downhill with a tailwind.

The Chevy Bolt with the upgraded battery (our automobile bought a brand new battery final month) has a spread of about 265 miles. Once we picked it up on the vendor, it was totally charged, however the vary indicator (generally referred to the “guess-o-meter” on Chevy Bolt boards) confirmed solely 180 miles of vary. After I requested our salesman why there was such a discrepancy, he mentioned the battery wanted to find out how we drive after the brand new battery was put in.

A lot of our route concerned again roads by way of the hills of japanese Connecticut — very scenic, however with a lot of small cities the place discovering an EV charger appeared unlikely. All of a sudden, I used to be having vary anxiousness. The place would we cost if the battery bought low? We had been taking a automobile we weren’t conversant in on a highway journey, and had completely no thought how environment friendly it was. This was going to be a studying expertise, for certain.

Charging A Chevy Bolt

We wanted to start out by giving our Bolt a full battery cost. We stay in a manufactured residence with 30 amp electrical service through the summer season, so including a 40 amp, 240 volt circuit was out of the query. I put in a climate resistant outlet and plugged in. The charging standing gentle turned inexperienced. Success!

Now I needed to decipher the menu of charging choices offered. Did I need to begin at 7 am tomorrow? No, I needed to start out charging now. Did I would like the Hilltop Reserve enabled, which limits charging to 80% SOC? (Or 88%. It is dependent upon who you ask.) No, thanks. Would I prefer to set my time-of-use program to benefit from decrease electrical energy charges? No, my native utility doesn’t get entangled with such folderol. Simply please cost my battery. Ultimately, I bought all the pieces set accurately and charging started.

Once we bought to Newport, RI, the halfway level of our journey, we theoretically had sufficient cost to get again residence, however we actually needed to learn the way public charging labored. We had up to date our PlugShare and ChargePoint apps and added an Electrify America account. PlugShare instructed us there have been two chargers accessible at Fort Adams State Park, and one was accessible. So we went there solely to search out each in use — one by a Mercedes EQS and the opposite by a Rivian R1T.

Chevy Bolt

Picture by Steve Hanley for CleanTechnica. All rights reserved.

We waited round for a half hour to see if both one moved, however they didn’t. So we meandered into Newport, the place PlugShare mentioned there have been six chargers subsequent to the native bus station, with 5 of them accessible. Once we bought there, one other Chevy Bolt was charging, an F-150 Lightning was taking on two areas, a Tesla Mannequin S was charging, and one house was blocked off by orange cones due to development close by. There was one house accessible, and we grabbed it.

We spent two hours roaming across the outlets on Thames Avenue, purchased a hat, and had an excellent meal on the Brick Alley Pub — the most effective eating places in Newport and half the worth of the chi-chi locations on the water. Once we bought again to our Bolt, we had added 13.5 kWh and ChargePoint mentioned we had been charged $3.80 for electrical energy. PlugShare mentioned these chargers had been free for the primary 4 hours, however we didn’t complain. Parking on the charger saved us the $20 that each one the parking heaps required, and the time we’d have spent attempting to find a spot at a meter on a busy Sunday in vacationer season. The ChargePoint expertise was simple, though you have to have not less than $10 in your account to start out charging

The Chevy Bolt & The Guess-O-Meter

On the left aspect of the instrument cluster within the Bolt is a show that reveals what number of miles the pc thinks you possibly can go earlier than operating out of battery energy. It’s based mostly in your state of cost, your driving historical past with the automobile, the skin temperature, the temperature of the battery, whether or not you might be utilizing the heater or air conditioner, and a bunch of different parameters. On the Chevy Bolt boards, it’s usually known as a “guess-o-meter.”

With nothing to match it to apart from the Nissan LEAF we used to personal, I anticipated to see the vary meter drop like a rock with each mile. It didn’t. Actually, the regen within the automobile appeared to be significantly efficient. After 40 miles of driving, the guess-o-meter confirmed a lower in vary of solely 20 miles.

Issues will change after we get on the freeway, I believed. They didn’t. Maintaining with site visitors at a gentle 65 mph, the vary dropped slower than I anticipated. My vary anxiousness was quickly evaporating. Once we bought to Newport after 84 miles, the vary estimate was solely 40 miles lower than after we began. What a reduction!

After taking up a couple of electrons, we meandered our means by way of Bristol and Barrington to Windfall after which headed again to Connecticut. Alongside the way in which, we dared to show the A/C on briefly. Once we bought residence, we had 40% SOC remaining and had pushed 180 miles. It turned out that we might have carried out the entire journey with out the charging session in Newport. My vary anxiousness fears had been gone. The Bolt is definitely fairly environment friendly, and it’s enjoyable to see miles be added to the vary estimate because the regen does its factor at stoplights and down hills.

If I had been doing a film about this journey, I might title it, “How I ended worrying and realized to like my Chevy Bolt.” The automobile’s info middle reveals virtually six miles per kWh, which is spectacular. However I believe that has one thing to do with the battery being new and the algorithm not being totally programmed but. However, the Bolt appears fairly environment friendly.

Classes Realized About My Chevy Bolt

The Chevy Bolt is a severely good automobile. It’s environment friendly, quiet, and comfy. Is it a Tesla? No, not by an extended shot. The inside is just not almost as refined as our Mannequin Y. The match and end of the physique is under that of the Tesla as nicely. However it has some options the Tesla doesn’t have that I actually like.

First, it has these little orange lights within the side-view mirrors that allow you to know if there’s a automobile in your blind spot. This technique works rather well, and is for my part, superior to the video that pops up on the Tesla touchscreen. It warns you earlier than you place your blinker on, one thing the Tesla doesn’t. It additionally has a wonderful rear cross-traffic warning that acknowledges automobiles and pedestrians nicely, one thing that was useful whereas backing out of parking areas in a busy seaside resort city.

This can be a automobile you possibly can highway journey with. It has sufficient vary that you’re grateful for the chance to cease and stretch your legs by the point you have to cost. I’ve not used a DC quick charger with the automobile but and I do know it’s restricted to 50 kW, so it takes a few half hour longer to cost than another automobiles. That’s a minus, however not that large a deal given how we intend to make use of the automobile. Most of our driving will likely be native, with a couple of highway journeys through the summer season, when PlugShare will do a reasonably good job of serving to us discover chargers alongside the way in which. Apple Automobile Play additionally shows all of the route info we want on the central display screen.

One statement — public chargers have gotten extra frequent. Many city halls have them in rural communities. They don’t provide the jolt of a quick charger, however they will take away the concern of being caught on the aspect of the highway with a depleted battery.

Button, Button, Who’s Received The Button?

My goodness, the Chevy Bolt has quite a lot of buttons! After the simplicity of the Tesla touchscreen and its de-cluttered inside, the Bolt has buttons and dials and gauges all over the place you look. A few of them are helpful. I really don’t thoughts working my very own windshield wipers — one thing the Tesla typically overthinks. The shift lever is just not intuitive, however works OK when you get used to it. The local weather management system is simple to make use of after a bit of trial and error.

The steering wheel has buttons all over the place. Cruise management on the left, menu choices on the best, a regen paddle on the again on the left, radio quantity controls on the again of the wheel on the best, and a “favorites” panel within the decrease left quadrant. There are menus galore, and they’re going to take some getting used to. I typically complain concerning the Tesla making an attempt too onerous to assume for me and I want for extra buttons and knobs, however the Bolt has too many buttons and menus accessible and they’re a distraction. Some individuals are by no means happy, I suppose.

The One Week Wrap-Up

The takeaway after one week with our Chevy Bolt is that that is all of the automobile most individuals want. It’s constructed nicely, with no squeaks or rattles. And though the vary meter is predicated on an algorithm, it appears to do a greater job of conveying the data drivers want about their state of cost than the Mannequin Y does. Tesla assumes the perfect and tasks vary numbers that individuals seldom see in precise driving. The Bolt takes a extra sensible strategy that does a greater job of telling drivers what they should know.

General, the Tesla is clearly the longer term. The Bolt has one foot prior to now and one foot in tomorrow and may’t fairly determine between the 2. As soon as you place all that apart and simply drive the automobile, the Bolt is spectacular in some ways. If there is a subsequent technology Bolt and it’s priced accurately, will probably be a wonderful automobile for individuals who are new to the EV revolution.

For many who are snug with a used  EV, a low mileage Bolt with a brand new battery — which comes with an 8-year guarantee from the date the battery was changed — is a superb selection, particularly now with the $4000 federal tax credit score accessible. I’m completely happy to offer our “new to us” Chevy Bolt 4½ stars. It’s a darn good automobile that we’re wanting ahead to driving for years to come back.


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