2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV: Monthly Update for June 2017
by Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
Does commuting on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles count as going anywhere? Most times, it sure doesn't feel like it. Then again, driving our 2016 Chevrolet Bolt EV means access to the carpool lane no matter how many people are in the car, so at least that helps a little. It's one of the big reasons why our Bolt has spent so much time on the highway compared to running around town.
Once the weekend hits, however, several of our drivers made use of the Bolt for various shopping trips; its small size and handy cargo area make it great for grocery runs and getting spots in crowded parking lots. And let's face it, the Bolt may have some serious range, but no one is going to pick it for a road trip. It's destined for this kind of domestic duty, and it's good for it in more ways than one.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
We averaged about 160 miles between charges in the month of June, which is quite a bit higher than the previous month. A couple stretches around the 200-mile mark likely resulted in the jump, but the fact that our staff is becoming more and more comfortable with its capabilities is probably a factor as well. It takes a while to realize that, even though you're well over 100 miles into a charge, there's still well over 100 miles of range left. It's a learning curve after driving EVs with only 7 to 80 miles of range over the years.
By the end of the month, we had added another 1,000 miles to the Bolt's odometer for a total of just over 7,000 miles.
Maintenance and Upkeep
"After several consecutive days of above-average temperatures, I've had to lean on the Bolt's A/C system more so than in the past several months. It's a fully automatic system, so it's just a matter of setting the temperature and letting it do its thing. In more than one instance, the Bolt was sitting outside in direct sun for several hours so the interior was pretty hot. I was pretty impressed how quickly it was able to cool down the cabin once I started driving. I'd say it took maybe 2-3 minutes before it was steadily blowing cold after start-up. When set at 71 degrees, it kept the fan on one of the higher speeds until I manually turned it down to reduce the noise level.
"Rear-seat passengers said they were comfortable although there are no rear seat vents. Overall, the system works well, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise. GM has always had solid air-conditioning systems, but for some reason I'm always curious how well they'll work in an electric car versus a system running off the engine. In this case, the engineers of the Bolt managed to build a very capable system." — Ed Hellwig, senior editor
"Electric vehicles are all well and good, but with still limited infrastructure, we're a while off from thinking about these cars the way we do about those with gas engines. So when I needed to hit the local mall for about an hour, I planned to use the nearest DC fast charger at a hotel parking lot near the mall. The Bolt's battery was still half-full, and I'd actually scheduled some time the following day to visit the charger for a full charge. But since I had an hour to kill, I figured maybe I could get a near-full charge and maybe skip the next day's visit altogether.
"The trouble began at the first of the two ChargePoint chargers. It returned a 'charging error' message each time I tried to initiate charging. So I tried the other charger. Both were, surprisingly, unoccupied, but it was soon clear why: The second charger didn't work either. Finally I ended up going around the corner to another lot with a 240-volt charger, which added only 10 miles of charge after about an hour. If you roll up to gas pump that's out of order, you move to the next pump or you drive to another gas station. In this case, the nearest DC fast charger was miles away. I didn't bother going into the hotel lobby to ask anyone about problems with the charger. It was already late, I needed to get over to the mall, and I assumed no one at the desk would know much, or care much, about the fussy chargers. Or at least I didn't plan to stick around for the time it would take to find out.
"In this case, the 10 miles added by the 240-volt charger was enough to get home, with still plenty of miles to get to another fast charger later. It also pays to have a contingency plan or two, something you don't normally consider when driving a gas-powered machine." — Dan Frio, automotive editor
"I've noted before that the Bolt has a very usable cargo area, but I think it's worth noting again given its size. This is a small car in terms of footprint, but it's able to swallow cargo very easily and without much moving of seats. In this case, I moved the cargo floor to its lowest position so I could load a few things and keep them snug while I continued with a few more errands. Much like the minivans that offer this same feature, the dropped load floor does a great job of keeping things from sliding around. And if you don't need the extra space, the floorboard can be repositioned for a completely flat floorboard. It makes the Bolt quite a bit more practical compared to your average hatchback." — Ed Hellwig