2017 Chevrolet Bolt: Monthly Update for February 2018
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing
Where Did We Drive It?
Our 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV accumulated only 774 fresh miles this month, which brings it up to 14,563 miles in all. Sure, February is a short month, but more nefarious forces were at work. Our trusty Bolt let us down and spent a full week at a local dealer going nowhere while it awaited a brand-new replacement battery pack.
Full details will come in a stand-alone writeup that will appear soon, including how we learned this was a known issue supposedly confined to early Bolts that had long since been discovered and resolved in production.
But this knowledge did not impress Kurt, the person who was driving when the Bolt abruptly toggled from 60 miles remaining to reduced power mode while in the leftmost HOV lane on a crowded freeway. As power ebbed away, he somehow steered it across lanes and onto the shoulder of a long exit ramp. Still, something like this leaves a bad taste in your mouth as you sit waiting for a tow truck for 90 minutes for no understandable reason.
Unlike January, there were no long trips out of town. Kurt's pre-problem drive was typical of this month's miles. It was all local go-to-work driving.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Those 744 miles were distributed across five charges, but only four were usable. The miles Kurt drove before getting stranded were lost because that failed battery pack was removed without being refilled, a step we must take to calculate consumption.
What's left is 584 miles of fresh data — hardly enough to move the needle much. That said, 262 of the commuting miles that followed the battery swap came in at a thrifty 25.4 kWh/100-mile consumption level, which beats the car's EPA rating of 28 kWh/100 by a healthy margin. We are back in business, and the Bolt's lifetime average remains impressively ahead of its official EPA rating.
Average lifetime consumption: 27 kWh/100 miles (125.1 mpge)
EPA consumption rating: 28 kWh/100 miles combined (119 mpge)
Best fill: 18.3 kWh/100 miles (184.3 mpge)
Current odometer: 14,563 miles
Data miles analyzed: 10,106 miles
With all that was going on, no one had the opportunity to make a run at any of our existing range and distance records. Those numbers are unchanged from last month.
Maximum single-charge distance driven: 334.3 miles
EPA range rating: 238 miles
Average distance driven: 104.6 miles
Maximum projected range: 351.5 miles
Average projected range: 251.5 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
Normally, EV maintenance amounts to filling the windshield washer bottle when it gets low, slapping on new windshield wipers once in a while, minding the tire pressure, and rotating the tires every so often. And we did, in fact, have to add washer fluid this month.
But, as you know, something else went terribly wrong. The car was towed in to Nissani Bros. Chevrolet on Thursday, February 8. After some diagnosis, a new battery pack was ordered. But the Bolt is a new model, and something like this isn't supposed to fail this soon. Since this part isn't locally stocked, it had to be trucked in over a long distance. The projected arrival time was Thursday, February 15, with the repaired car available for pickup the next day on Friday, February 16, after a time allowance for charging.
But then something changed. Maybe GM got involved and sped up the shipment. Maybe the trucker drove through the weekend. We don't quite know. All we know is the battery arrived well ahead of schedule on Tuesday, February 13, and was installed that same afternoon. We were called the next morning with word that it was ready to pick up.
Cost to us: $0. This was an obvious warranty job. The dealer also rotated the tires and checked the tire pressures.
"The Bolt ran out of wiper fluid so I swung by the gas station to buy a jug. The guy tried to charge me $15 for a gallon. I thought it was a joke. When he repeated himself I laughed, told him that was crazy and said no thanks. The gas station across the street sold me the same jug for $3. Still pricey by some standards but much more in line with typical convenience store prices. The Bolt drank it all." — Mike Schmidt, senior manager, vehicle testing operations
"$#!*" — Kurt Niebuhr, photo editor
"Unlike other infotainment systems (like Ford's Sync, for example), our Bolt's infotainment system can't automatically determine what kind of phone you're hooking up to it. It's not a problem for single-phone users; they can set it and forget it. Multi-driver households that use both Android and Apple products (or, in my case, a single driver with both type of phones) should be aware that if your smartphone doesn't automatically sync up, a visit to the Settings menu may be in order. Also, while I prefer Android Auto for its voice recognition and Google Maps, the fact that the screen doesn't scale properly causes me some degree of consternation." — Calvin Kim, road test editor
"If I pushed the front passenger seat most of the way forward, lowered the back seat and bottomed out the adjustable cargo floor, I could fit a full-size bike inside without needing to remove anything. Then I could easily plug in at my nearest charging station, get on the bike and ride the 2 miles back home." — Mike Schmidt