Monthly Archives: January 2018

Chevy Bolt after one month

We bought our Bolt on December 12th, just over a moth ago, so I thought I’d take advantage of a lazy, cold Sunday to jot down a few thoughts.

First, overall, both Jan and I are quite pleased. We’ve put about 1400 miles on it. That’s more than we’ll usually drive in a month, which I’m guessing will be more like 1000 miles. It drives very well, and matches stated economy specs. We routinely get well over 4 miles per kWh on running around with trips that are for local (50-60 mile round trips) shopping or errands. We’ve driven from EI to the RTP area twice (175 miles each way), including freeway driving. Once, we overnighted, and then I drove it for a day trip to go fishing on January 13th. On these trips, we got 3.7 to 3.8 miles per kWh. However, it’s important to note that we tried not to exceed 65 mph, even in a 70 mph zone. Also, we ran the heat sparingly as this can reduce mileage by several percent. Instead, we used seat heaters and the heated steering wheel. The heater works very well, you just see the cost directly, since heat is a waste product in an internal combustion engine (ICE). By way of comparison, today we drove to Sam’s Club in Jacksonville, a 54.3 mile round trip, urban driving with about 20 miles at 55-60mph. Used 12 kWh for an average of 4.5 miles per kWh.

The Bolt is fun to drive on curvy back roads, since it has a very low center of gravity, great regenerative braking, and excellent acceleration. A key to good efficiency (higher miles per kWh) is to accelerate moderately from a stop and not use the 200hp engine to show off its capabilities.

A sidebar here on regenerative braking. While you have brake and accelerator pedals, there are two modes to drive an EV, traditional and “one-pedal.” In one pedal mode, it goes when you push down, and brakes (regenerating strongly) when you reduce pressure. This gives excellent control for sport driving and you almost never need to use the friction brake. For freeway driving, however, I shift to traditional mode, especially if I’m going to use cruise control.

The Bolt is roomy, though the seats are narrow. Frankly, if you have a big butt, you won’t like it. I’m 6’5″, 230 pounds, and I’m ok. But a stockier person might have issues. It’s roomy for 4 people, and can seat 5, and works fine for the granddaughter’s car seat. The hatchback-style trunk is good for groceries, and will even hold 2 Labrador retrievers for 3 hours, with the backseat folded down.

Our JuiceBox EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) works well. It’s a misnomer to call it a charger, technically, as the car contains the charger and the EVSE is a smart switch. One thing that was interesting is that in very cold weather low 20s and below, the car will consume power periodically to keep the battery pack warm. This is very evident in the charging logs from the JuiceBox. The opposite takes place in very warm weather, where it cools the battery. The heating process seems to be as much as 2 kWh every 4 to 6 hours. Obviously if you have the car in a garage this is mitigated. The JuiceBox provides the Bolt with its maximum of 7.6 kW input, for an effective rate of about 30 miles per hour. Remember this relates to your efficiency, so that at 3.7 miles per kWh it recharges 28 miles per hour, and at 4.5 miles per kWh, it charges 34 miles per hour.

I’ve just charged the car once at “station,” which in this case was a free charge at a library in Durham, with all other charges being at home at EI, or using the dryer plug in Chapel Hill (but that house is now sold, and we’ll be out in February) and Winterville. I have charging credentials with EVGo, ChargePoint, and Greenlots. I’ll use them at some point. Again the key is that charging an EV is not like going to a gas station and being back on the road in 10 minutes. You just have to think differently about refueling, with the ideal being an overnight stop with an EVSE.

However, again, the key is that an EV will do a heckuva lot of the things you do, and with an ICE 2nd vehicle or a rental as a backup, you can cover the other use cases.

Clearwater 2018

Sam and I met at Camp Clearwater for a day of trout fishing today. The local TU chapter puts 1,500 pounds of trout into the lake each year for a winter trout fishery (it’s too warm for them to reliably survive the summer). It was a cool, blustery day with temps dropping all day into the 40s on stiff northwest winds. However, that’s better than last weekend when the lake was frozen over!

We arrived at 9 (this is 9-5 fishing, with a TU lake warden in attendance) rigged up and started fishing. I tried a Chili Pepper, a copper colored wooly bugger. Sam used a black bugger. We went thru many flies and all around the lake with only one fish between us by lunch, a 10-inch largemouth I caught on a black bugger.

We ate lunch in the camp office, sitting by the heater. After lunch however, our luck changed. Sam and I each hooked several fish, all big fish, 16″ or better. I caught one that was easily 24″ long, and fat like a football. That one gave me quite a fight before Sam netted it.

We caught our fish on the Chili Pepper and small black buggers, exclusively.

Here’s a shot of Sam with a nice fish

It was a great day of fishing, catching and fellowship. Glad we have another day scheduled this season!

2017 EV sales continue to rise

Saw a good statistical summary of electric vehicle (EV) sales for 2017. Nearly 200,000 battery electric and plug in hybrid vehicles were sold in the US in 2017, up by 26% from 2016, and 1.6% of US sales in December. Estimates are that we’ll see sales of 300,000 in 2018, depending on the Tesla Model 3 rampup, and vehicles like the new Nissan Leaf, and the Chevy Bolt.

The EV is probably still not an “only car” for most folks, but as a second car, it will fill a lot of niches with current and emerging products.

EV chargers

Saw an interesting article on Level 2 and DC fast chargers, with a summary of chargers by state, here. I was interested to see both a good number of chargers in NC, as well as the ratio of DC chargers. The page says the total includes public and private chargers, as well as the Tesla network. What it doesn’t say and probably doesn’t include, are privately owned chargers but made available thru networks like PlugShare. We installed a JuiceBox Pro 40 (a Level 2 charger), which at 40 amps, is faster than many commercial Level 2 chargers. Like many other EV drivers, I’ve listed this on PlugShare in case anyone is in a bind and needs a charge. EV chargers are not as ubiquitous as gas stations, and are nowhere as quick, particularly the Level 2 chargers, but there are more out there than you might think.