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.