Monthly Update for August 2019

2017 Chevrolet Bolt: Monthly Update for August 2019

by Rex Tokeshi-Torres, Vehicle Testing Technician

At a Glance:

• We drove 1,105 miles in August
• Long road trip up to Fresno
• More daily commuting
• Steering wheel click and clicks some more
• The pain with EV charging
• 2020 Chevrolet Bolt gets more range — we have different thoughts

Where Did We Drive It?
The long-term 2017 Chevrolet Bolt had its lowest miles recorded since April at 1,105. That’s still up from the 846-mile average from the previous three months of January through March. The roughly 265-mile one-way trip to Fresno can account for a big chunk of that distance in one day of travel — even though that had its own snags, as you can read below.

From there, it’s commuting duties! Yay for consistency!

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Our average lifetime mpg keeps getting better. I know 0.1 kWh/100 miles doesn’t seem like a lot, but that means we’re using less energy per 100 miles of use. It has been much of the same for the Bolt — even with a long road trip to Fresno toward the end of the month. Keep charging forward, little Bolt.

Average lifetime mpg: 25.8 kWh/100 miles
EPA consumption rating: 28 kWh/100 miles combined
Best fill consumption: 18 kWh/100 miles (187.4 mpge)
Best range: 334.3 miles
Current odometer: 30,775 miles

Maintenance and Upkeep
None.

Logbook Highlights

Interior
“Chevrolet has announced that the 2020 Bolt is getting an increase in range to an estimated 259 miles. That’s certainly welcome. But I’d guess that most of us at Edmunds would gladly keep the original 238-mile range if we could instead get some improvements in interior quality and seat comfort for 2020.” — Brent Romans, senior editor

Performance
“I drove our Bolt from the Edmunds home office in Los Angeles to my home in Fresno, California. It’s about 235 miles one way. In theory, our Bolt has just enough range to make it. But I’ve spent enough time with the car to know that open highway driving (at least in California with its 70-plus mph speeds) is fairly inefficient for an EV. As such, this trip requires a stop midway to recharge at a DC fast charger.

“Doing this can be a little dicey. Here’s an example: I had planned my route to stop at a ChargePoint charger in Bakersfield. I’ve used this charger before, even though it’s not very convenient. (It’s about a 10-minute drive off the highway.) Alas, when I got there I realized the charger wasn’t working. Argh! I hadn’t bothered to check the ChargePoint app. If I had done that, I would have likely noticed the charger was down. But since I didn’t, I had to sit there and figure out how to make it to another charger.

“The next closest ChargePoint station, according to the app’s map, was about a 15-minute drive away. With about 50% battery left, I left the dead charger and drove to the next one. The location seemed a little odd because when I got there I realized I was right next to a Harley-Davidson dealership. Huh. It turned out that the dealership had just installed a charger to support Harley’s new electric LiveWire bike. I went inside the dealership to ask about the charger’s status and met the general manager. He said that they had just installed the charger, and it had never been used!

“Thankfully, they were cool with me using it. I plugged in and went inside to check out the bikes for about 20 minutes. After that, I got in the Bolt. It was then that I noticed that it wasn’t charging very quickly. Most DC fast charging stations I’ve encountered in California are rated to provide 50 kW of power, though they usually put out a max of around 40 kW. This one at the Harley dealership was only providing about 17 kW, according to the Bolt’s charging readout. Another ‘argh!’ It was going to take a long time to get enough juice to finish my drive.

“I decided to go to a third charging station, this time an EVgo-brand station in a Walmart parking lot, which was another 20 minutes away. Thankfully, I had enough driving range to make it there. When I arrived, one of the two fast charging stations was taken up by a Nissan Leaf. Fortunately, the other was free. But even then, it was tricky. By now it was late in the day, and the setting sun was washing out the station’s touchscreen, which already seemed like it wasn’t working all that great. I could barely see where to touch the screen to activate the charger. After a few minutes of trying to shield off the sun, I finally got the thing working.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt

“Overall, it was just a big hassle. You’d never have these problems with a gas-powered car (barring some sort of significant power outage that rendered all the gas stations inoperable). It also points to Tesla’s huge advantage with its Supercharger network.

“I really like EVs, and I think they’re great for around-town driving. But taking long trips on unfamiliar routes requires faith and patience.” — Brent Romans

Miscellaneous
“One of my coworkers wrote a comment a few months ago that our Bolt’s steering wheel column makes an occasional clicking sound when turning the wheel. I definitely noticed this issue as well. I wouldn’t call it annoying, but it does reduce my confidence a little in Chevy’s workmanship.” — Brent Romans

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