Chevy Bolt first drive

Electric cars, trucks, ATVs, NEVs - things bigger than a motorcycle.
Warren   100 kW

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last week's Blue Ridge Parkway trip

Post by Warren » May 24 2019 12:34pm

I have wanted to see the entire Blue Ridge Parkway since moving here in 1974. I had been up and down the northernmost 120 miles by car, and bicycle, but not the remaining 289 miles. Switching to the Bolt made the adventure even more attractive to me. I realized last week that it was now practical, thanks to the VW Dieselgate chargers going in.

My plan was to do the 409 miles north to south, then drive up the 31 miles through Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and on to Dandridge, Tennessee, to visit my cousin...686 miles in two days. The third day I would drive back home 363 miles on interstates.

Day 1

Left home at 8:36 am with 90% "hilltop" charge. It was 55 F, and partly sunny, when I left. I had preheated the cabin while still plugged in. I ran with outside air on the windshield, and seat and steering wheel heat. Drove Rt 250 to the north entrance of the BRP. Getting on I-64, briefly, around Charlottesville, I saw a Tesla Model X.

Headed down the BRP at 9:35 am. Left the BRP at milepost 91, up Rt 43 for 17.6 miles to the fast charger at Brugh's Mill Country Store. Arrived at the charger at 12:30 pm, with 29% SOC.

The car connected fine, but the credit card reader failed to read my card. Rather than fool with it, I headed into the store to empty my bursting bladder, and get some lunch. The store's credit card reader took my card just fine. At this point I had lost 10 minutes of charging time. I went out to the charger and tried again. Same problem. I called the customer service number. The nice gal on the phone had me try it all again while she watched on her computer. She asked me to move the car to another charger and try again...same result. This time she shut down the entire charger. All the high tech looking green and blue lights went out, the display screen went black, and the machine restarted. The display finally came back up with the time showing 5 pm. She said that was the default setting, and it would show the correct time once it finished rebooting. The display showed 1:02 pm when it finally accepted my card!!

I headed back to the BRP at 2 pm, with 83% SOC..

Past the Roanoke area, the road flattened out, and it was mostly rolling farmland to milepost 229, where I got on Rt 21 to the Fairfield Inn in Elkin, NC.

Arrived at the hotel at 6:28 pm, 331.6 miles, 4.8 mi/kWh, 21.6% SOC. There were two ChargePoint pedestals, with two cables each. I had never seen a J1772 unit that required an RFID card to unlock. I called the customer service number, and the friendly gal unlocked it for me. Plugged in and the dash said it would be charged to 100% at 2:30 am. I checked into the hotel, and walked down the road 0.7 miles to a strip mall with lots of food options. I went to a Mexican restaurant and had my usual...rice, beans, chicken burritos, and a Corona.

Day 2

After a great night's sleep, a shower, the included breakfast, and my travel mug full to the top with black coffee, I left the Fairfield Inn at 6:29 am with 100% SOC. I preheated the cabin while still plugged in, and again drove with only outside air on the windshield, heated seat, and steering wheel. It was 44 F.

There were three DC fast chargers along the remaining 240 miles of the BRP. Never having been on the Parkway down here, I figured I would watch my energy consumption, and decide where to charge as I went along.

The terrain turned out to be much more dramatic than anything in Virginia, but the speed limit is still 45 mph. I hardly had an opportunity to straighten the wheel for more than a few hundred yards at a time. I lost count of the number of tunnels, some with tight spiral turns, one even had an S turn! There was a spectacular bridge, cantilevered off of a rock cliff face. I wish there had been a place to pull off to catch a picture of that. Likewise, a section of road between a rock face, and a roaring river, that curved around about 180 degrees. Saw lots of jutting rock formations, springs, rapids, etc.

As someone who enjoys carving around curves in a great handling car, this was a day to remember. I was not alone. I encountered one Chevy Volt, hundreds of flailing motorcycles, sports cars, muscle cars, hot rods, and more three-wheeled sport buggies than I have seen in my life.

I can't imagine how terrifying the BRP, in North Carolina, must be for the many dozens of bicyclists I saw...especially in the dark tunnels where they must count on the line of reflectors, three feet from the tunnel wall, to keep them safe from crazed motorists.

Even with very spirited driving, I was seeing 4.2 mi/kWh at my first charging decision point. At milepost 292, I could have driven down Rt 321 for 20.4 miles to the fast charger at the utility office, in Lenoir, NC. We used this charger twice, on our trip to Tennessee, in October of 2017, a 150 mile detour off of I-81. I decided that, even with a side trip up Mount Mitchell, I would still have plenty of charge to make it to the DC fast chargers in Asheville.

The 4.8 miles to the top of Mount Mitchell was nice. At 11 am, at milepost 355, I headed up the steep, narrow, winding road, which thankfully has a 25 mph speed limit. At that speed I rolled the window down to enjoy the air. I saw a Tesla Model S at the restaurant just down the hill from the parking lot at the top. I reset the energy center screen at the bottom to see what kind of mileage I would get going up. The green bar sat at about 1.5 mi/kWh. I parked at the top, and hiked, with dozens of others, to the observation platform at the summit. I chatted with two motorcycle tourists, one of whom has a BMW i3, in addition to his BMW touring bike. On the ride down I picked up 1.5 kWh.

At milepost 384, I drove the 6.8 miles up Rt 240 to the DC fast chargers at Asheville, arriving at 1:35 pm, with 34.1% SOC. I plugged in, and tried the credit card. Thankfully, it only took the gal at customer service five minutes to get this one working. This was the first time I had ever been at a Sam's Club. Fortunately, you don't need to be a member to use the restrooms, as I didn't see anything else nearby. I left Asheville at 2:35 pm, with 84.3% SOC.

As I rolled along watching the scenery, and the other road users, I kept thinking of the moonshiner movies I saw as a kid. Off the interstates, the mountainous roads in North Carolina, and Tennessee, seem to instill two philosophies of driving. One I would call a vehicular version of snake handling, where the driver motors along at the limit of tire adhesion, around blind curves, without a thought of deer, turkeys, fallen rock, or pedestrians. The idea being that, if you believe, Jesus will protect you. The other, for the less devout, is a fatalistic attitude of, "If it's your time, it's your time." The results for both, as my cousin assures me, are weekly flaming wrecks.

At 5:25 pm, and 51.0 % SOC, I stopped at the Oconaluftee Visitor's Center, a half mile up Rt 441, past the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway, in the Great Smoky Mountain National Forest, 621.1 miles, 5.0 mi/kWh since leaving home. I checked out the Greenlots DC charger at the visitor center to confirm that it was still out of service, as PlugShare users had mentioned for months.

The first half of my 65.5 mile drive to the hotel, and EVgo fast charger, in Dandridge, Tennessee was a very pleasant surprise. The 31 miles through the Great Smoky National Forest was posted at 35 mph, and was at least as spectacular as the southern end of BRP.

I arrived at the Holiday Inn Express at 7:27 pm, 33% SOC, 686.2 miles, 5.1 mi/kWh average, so far. I checked in, and drove to the Exxon next door to use the EVgo charger. These are old 50 kW chargers, not nearly as fast as the new 150 kW units, but in my experience, EVgo chargers just work without hassle. I walked across the road to another Mexican restaurant for a repeat of the previous day's fare. I restarted the charger after my meal, as the EVgo charger shuts down after 45 minutes. I stopped the second session at 88% SOC. and parked back at the hotel.

Day 3

Thursday was forecast to be 20 F warmer than the first two days, and I opted for shorts, and a tee shirt, after two days in jeans and sweatshirt. After breakfast, I drove several miles to hang out with my cousin for a few hours. I headed back to the interstate, for home, at 11:15 am. I ran 75 mph, with AC set to 68 F, to the DC fast charger at Wytheville, Virginia. Even exceeding the speed limit, I arrived when Google maps predicted, due to continual tie-ups with trucks.

I arrived at the Wytheville Sheetz at 1:31 pm at 17.3% SOC, 154 miles since the hotel, 840.4 miles, 4.8 mi/kWh, so far. The chargers were out on the white concrete, with no shade, as usual. The sun was blasting directly into the display screens, making them almost impossible to see. The first charger I pulled up to said "not available", and I noticed that the fancy light bars down the edge of the chargers were red. The bars on the next one were green, so I pulled over there. Before attempting to charge, I went in to use the restroom, and buy lunch. I got a turkey and veggie wrap and coffee, and verified that the store's credit card reader took my card. Charging went off without a hitch, and I noticed that the light bars are blue during charging. I was so shocked by my good fortune that I forgot to record any data, other than heading out at 2:55 pm.

I continued at 75 mph, AC on, arriving again almost to the minute per Google, at Brugh's Mill Market at 4:11 pm, at 47.8% SOC. I have been to this location four or five times now, and only once managed to charge on the first try. This time, I plugged in, the charger said the car was connected, I ran my card, and it was accepted. I was so happy I ran to the store. When I got back some minutes later, with my coffee and snack, it said the charge had failed. Everything worked on the second try, and I managed to leave at 5:04 pm, again failing to record any data.

I ran 75 mph, AC on, up I-81, and down I-64, arriving home at 6:49 pm, at 25.9% SOC, 1,049.1 miles total, 4.6 mi/kWh average, and 43.4 mph average speed for the three days.

I am sure I could have saved a few dollars, and maybe an hour, if I had tried to calculate the minimum charge needed to make it from one charger to the next. I didn't even consider it. This was a fun adventure, not a timed event.
BRP trip Elkin.jpg
BRP trip Mount Mitchell 1.jpg
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BRP trip 15 mile descent.jpg
BRP trip Oconaluftee.jpg
BRP trip Dandridge.jpg
BRP trip Wytheville.jpg
We are over 24K miles now, and the Bolt is still the best car we have ever owned.

Warren   100 kW

100 kW
Posts: 1398
Joined: Oct 05 2010 11:35am

1153 mi round trip...central Virginia to Rochester and Ithaca NY

Post by Warren » Oct 27 2019 9:44am

The first week of October looked good for our first trip to New York in the Bolt. Left at 8:15 am, and arrived home at 9:45 pm, a week later. The non-Tesla DC charging infrastructure is still a joke, but at least now the trip is doable, with luck. We drove Rt 15 mostly...no interstates.

1153.3 miles, 4.5 mi/kWh average, 251 kWh total.
Charging at Gettysburg 2.jpg
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Taughannock Falls.jpg
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Warren   100 kW

100 kW
Posts: 1398
Joined: Oct 05 2010 11:35am

Bolt to Vanagon transplant

Post by Warren » Oct 27 2019 9:48am

I figured folks on this forum would enjoy this guy's conversion. Check out all the photos. He has just,about completed his epic trip.

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewt ... sc&start=0

Warren   100 kW

100 kW
Posts: 1398
Joined: Oct 05 2010 11:35am

Re: Chevy Bolt first drive

Post by Warren » Nov 28 2020 4:27pm

Just an update on our Bolt. So we are at 34,722 miles. Have only put on 2,428 miles since mid-March. Only grocery curbside pickup, and medical visits.

Added a few things to the cargo area for curbside pickup...a cough shield, and a cardboard floor cover.
covid shield 1.jpg
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Can't wait for a vaccine, so we can go back to normal attire.
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I did do a long solo drive two weeks ago, up to the Blue Ridge, and several towns along the James River, just to check out the battery. Ran it from "hilltop" charge to empty, just for fun. Still could have gone 8 miles at 50 mph on "fumes."
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11-15-20 back.jpg
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Part of the reason for wanting to check on battery health is that GM has issued a battery recall. Over the last year, five US Bolts, and two European Opel Ampera-e/Bolt have burned up. Most just under the backseat. But several had total thermal runaways. They haven't decided on a permanent solution yet, just a software hack to limit to 95% SOC. Since we seldom charge over 90%, it is not worth going to the dealer. Especially since they would take away our 100%, and 90% options, and replace them with 95% only?!

https://youtu.be/2W4NzUQffcE

Hillhater   100 GW

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Re: Chevy Bolt first drive

Post by Hillhater » Nov 29 2020 5:09pm

Hi Warren,.... very interesting data.
I see you used approx 300 W/mile on averaage
Have you any info on energy consumption at various speeds ?, kW , or Wh/mile .
This forum owes its existence to Justin of ebikes.ca

Warren   100 kW

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Posts: 1398
Joined: Oct 05 2010 11:35am

Re: Chevy Bolt first drive

Post by Warren » Dec 06 2020 12:06pm

Hillhater wrote:
Nov 29 2020 5:09pm
Hi Warren,.... very interesting data.
I see you used approx 300 W/mile on average
Have you any info on energy consumption at various speeds ?, kW , or Wh/mile .
Yes. I did most of this drive with the heat set to HI/90 F to get me home well before dark. With just heated seat and steering wheel, on these mostly two lane state roads, I average 200 Wh/mi.

I have an engineer friend who, two years ago, put seven early Leaf modules in his golf cart, to replace the lead acid batteries. He swapped in a D&D 42A hi-torque motor, SPM-48225 controller, 5 amp onboard charger, and Cycle Analyst. It is 298 lbs lighter. He top balanced the cells, and charges to 57.0 volts. On his first full run he did 16.27 miles total, 40.38 Ah, 2,134 Wh, 131 Wh/mi, 7 mph av, 20 mph max, mostly on paths up and down in their woods.

After he did that I got to wondering how efficient the Bolt would be at golf cart speeds.

Turns out the Bolt will do 24 mph on cruise control. You can only get it to engage down to 25 mph. But once in cruise, you can use the minus button to get it to go 24 mph. I did it on a section of the Skyline Drive. I did 11 miles up and 11 miles back, from the south entrance. Overcast, calm, low-to-mid 70's F. Rode with the window rolled down, eating kettle corn, and drinking a soda. It never varied from 24 mph. Saw under 3 mi/kWh on steep climbs, and up to 24 mi/kWh on descents.

Here is the section with elevation per Google.

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/38.1344 ... !3e1?hl=en

The 3600 pound Bolt averaged 113.6 Wh/mile!
Skyline Drive.jpg
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Hillhater   100 GW

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Re: Chevy Bolt first drive

Post by Hillhater » Dec 06 2020 5:20pm

Thanks Warren ,.. interesting data.
So would you say that regular city & highway driving would return 200Wh/mile ?.....5 miles per kWh.
This forum owes its existence to Justin of ebikes.ca

Warren   100 kW

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Joined: Oct 05 2010 11:35am

Re: Chevy Bolt first drive

Post by Warren » Dec 06 2020 9:44pm

Hillhater wrote:
Dec 06 2020 5:20pm
Thanks Warren ,.. interesting data.
So would you say that regular city & highway driving would return 200Wh/mile ?.....5 miles per kWh.
There are folks on the Bolt forum who regularly see that commuting, with little or no use of HVAC.

We don't think about efficiency unless we are doing 500 mile days. For just driving around the state we run HVAC for comfort, as we did in ICE vehicles, which keeps us at 250-350Wh/mi.

Hillhater   100 GW

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Re: Chevy Bolt first drive

Post by Hillhater » Mar 04 2021 7:49pm

Warren,
Have you had notification of a Factory recall from GM regarding a possible issue with the Bolt battery pack ?
I understand GM are recalling many (all ?) Bolt’s for a pack replacement following some unexplained fires in the LG packs.
Hyundai Kona EV’s ...also with LG supplied packs, are also being recalled for pack replacement.
This forum owes its existence to Justin of ebikes.ca

Warren   100 kW

100 kW
Posts: 1398
Joined: Oct 05 2010 11:35am

Re: Chevy Bolt first drive

Post by Warren » Mar 07 2021 4:36pm

Hillhater wrote:
Mar 04 2021 7:49pm
Warren,
Have you had notification of a Factory recall from GM regarding a possible issue with the Bolt battery pack ?
I understand GM are recalling many (all ?) Bolt’s for a pack replacement following some unexplained fires in the LG packs.
Hyundai Kona EV’s ...also with LG supplied packs, are also being recalled for pack replacement.
I have gotten 4 or 5 official letters, as many official emails, and as many phone messages from our local dealer. They all want me to come in to have my software changed to only allow me to charge to 95% SoC, because they had seven out of 68K Bolts catch fire when charged to 100%. From new it has two charge settings, 90%/hilltop, and 100%/full. We always charge to 90%. We reserve 100% for trips, and only top up just before leaving home. This is to preserve the battery, and gives full regen at all times, which doesn't happen at 100% until you have used up several kWh's. Why on earth I would charge to a higher percent to prevent a fire at 100% escapes me. This is lawyers covering their asses.

They claim their problem is entirely different from Hyundai's. They say they are not going to replace any batteries. They claim they are working on a software update that will alert them to potential problems, while still allowing charging to 100%, by April or May. I figure I will give it a few months to see how many times they have to redo the fix to get it right, before I go in.

Late 2019, and all 2020, and 2021 Bolts are not included in the recall. Those packs were all assembled in Michigan, instead of Korea.

As it stands now, I monitor our battery using the Torque Pro app.
Battery health screen 2.jpg
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LeftieBiker   100 kW

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Re: Chevy Bolt first drive

Post by LeftieBiker » Mar 07 2021 5:11pm

It's my understanding that they now have the aforementioned software fix. Watch for cheap Bolt leases on 2019 & 2020 models to follow.

Hillhater   100 GW

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Re: Chevy Bolt first drive

Post by Hillhater » Mar 07 2021 7:39pm

Hyundai also tried the sofware fix to limit the max charge...
...but once they had a fire in a pack with the latest software, they reconsidered the options.
12 fires in 86,000 cars.
Hyundai maintain the pack replacement is primarilary to ensure their reputation for “customer care and safety” rather than a technical requirement...( they dont want to use customer cars as test units for various “fix options”.
I guess LG have their industrial reputation riding on this also .!
This forum owes its existence to Justin of ebikes.ca

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