Chevy Bolt One Month Review — Still 4½ Stars

A couple of weeks in the past, I wrote a narrative concerning the 2017 Chevy Bolt my spouse and I bought in June. There have been two issues concerning the automotive that made it enticing to us. First, though it was a 2017, it had solely 26,500 miles on the odometer and it had a brand new battery pack put in in Could, which implies the battery is beneath manufacturing facility guarantee till Could of 2031 (assuming, after all, Normal Motors is still in business by then.) Second, it’s eligible for the federal $4,000 used EV tax credit score.

A 3rd issue is that whereas we most likely overpaid a bit contemplating what new ones are promoting for (if you’ll find one), we additionally received silly cash for our trade-in, a 2013 Honda Civic Si. The online impact is that the Civic depreciated by solely $500 a yr since we purchased it in 2015. The market giveth and the market taketh away.

Our Chevy Bolt After One Month

It takes some time to get used to the Bolt. There’s a host of buttons, dials, switches, and push buttons to determine. We had been caught in a cloud burst at some point and wanted the defroster. So we pushed the defrost button and that labored advantageous. However after the rain stopped, we couldn’t shut it off. I assumed at first it was on a timer the way in which many rear-window defoggers are. I assumed after we shut the automotive off at dwelling it might reset. It didn’t.

The proprietor’s handbook had no clear rationalization. I signed up on the Chevy Bolt forum to see if anybody there may assist. [A quick shoutout: The people who run the forum are first class. Highly recommended for Bolt owners.] In the end, it was a Google search that did it. It seems you possibly can’t disable the defrost operate (not the max defrost operate) until one of many buttons that directs air to the sprint or ground vents is chosen. After I realized that bit of knowledge, the issue went away. (There are occasions once I yearn for the nice outdated days when air flow methods had been managed by levers and cables. I should be getting outdated!)

Charging A Chevy Bolt

Chevy Bolt

Picture by Steve Hanley for CleanTechnica. All rights reserved.

Vary anxiousness. Everybody talks about it, however many individuals don’t perceive it. They suppose driving an electrical automotive is identical as driving a traditional automotive. We’re accustomed to going to a fuel station, filling the tank, and driving till we have to fill the tank once more. It’s like a camel slurping down lots of water after which heading out throughout the trackless desert to the subsequent oasis. Electrical vehicles are extra like hummingbirds, taking little sips each time the chance arises.

Most individuals who don’t personal an electrical automotive don’t have any clue concerning the other ways to cost them. The slowest is Degree 1, which is mainly plugging into the closest 120-volt wall outlet. It’s sluggish — on the order of round 3 miles for each hour.

The second is Degree 2, which makes use of a 240-volt outlet. Most of us aren’t electricians and don’t perceive that not all 240V circuits are the identical. Some are 20 amps, some 30, some 40, some 50, and a few extra. 60 amps is roughly equal to what you want for an electrical range. The upper the amperage, the extra electrons get transferred to the battery for each hour the automotive is plugged in.

Degree 3 chargers use direct present (DC) as an alternative of alternating present (AC) and they’re obtainable with completely different energy ranges. The naked minimal is 50 kilowatts, abbreviated as kW. Some are 350 kW. Once more, you don’t should be an electrician or know the definition of a kilowatt. Most of us don’t know what the definition of 1 horsepower is, however we perceive that extra is healthier.

The Achilles heel of the Chevy Bolt is that it will possibly solely settle for about 50 kW of energy whereas charging. The charger itself could also be able to rather more energy, however the automotive is unable to utilize it. This implies, sadly, that on street journeys with a Bolt, drivers will sit and watch different electrical vehicles arrive, cost up, and get again on the street whereas the Bolt continues to be ready for extra electrons to get downloaded.

That’s the most obvious weak point of the automotive, and if that’s a problem for you, don’t purchase one. I’ve a neighbor who routinely drives his Bolt backwards and forwards between Ohio and Florida. He bemoans the freeway charging expertise, however the ache of spending just a few extra hours on the street is greater than offset by the enjoyment of not having to pay for a rental automotive for just a few months. You pays your cash and also you takes your selection.

Chevy Bolt

Picture by Steve Hanley for CleanTechnica. All rights reserved.

I had event to return to the supplier two weeks after I purchased the automotive. I had found a minimize within the sidewall of one of many entrance tires and the supplier agreed to interchange it. We agreed to separate the fee for 2 new tires, since each entrance tires had been about half worn. Within the service bay was a shiny new DC quick charger that proudly proclaimed it had 50 kW of energy. Woo hoo!

I didn’t need to embarrass the workers by telling them 50 kW is yesterday’s information. It is a Cadillac/GMC retailer, and after they (lastly) begin promoting Lyriqs and Hummers, that charger isn’t going to be as much as the duty of charging these vehicles. However for the Bolt, it was good. I didn’t have to cost up. I had about 75% SOC. However I wished to search out out what this DC quick charging was all about (did I point out it was free?), so I plugged in.

OMG! I didn’t fairly perceive what all of the brouhaha about CCS vs. NACS was earlier than, by no means having used a CCS quick charger. First off, the cable appeared like one thing you’d use to tie an ocean liner to a pier. And the plug on the tip? Yikes, it was massive, and ponderous, and arduous to deal with. I’m used to Tesla Superchargers. The wire is slim and supple and the connector is that this fantastically designed piece that feels good in your hand. The CCS connector felt like a canned ham compared.

Chevy Bolt

Picture by Steve Hanley for CleanTechnica. All rights reserved.

Finally, I received the Bolt connected and charging started. The automotive received as much as 80% pretty rapidly after which charging slowed to a crawl. It took totally 40 minutes to get to 100%. I didn’t have to cost to 100%, however I wished to expertise this for myself. Lesson realized. If you’re travelling, cost to 80% and get on down the street to the subsequent charger. Ready to get to 100% is torture and in the end takes longer than charging twice to 80%. That hummingbird analogy is wanting extra correct on a regular basis.

Driving The Chevy Bolt

I’m pleasantly shocked how good a automotive the Chevy Bolt is. My different automotive is a Tesla Mannequin Y, so my expectations had been excessive. The Bolt is not any Tesla, however in some methods, I want it. It really appears to trip extra quietly with much less tire noise. I get used to the radio and local weather controls. I nonetheless just like the little orange lights that seem within the side-view mirrors to warn me if there’s a automotive in my blind spot.

The trip is comfy and managed. The regen works marvelously effectively, making one-pedal driving a delight. The automotive doesn’t creep when stopped. The guess-o-meter that estimates vary is entertaining, because it plummets when going uphill after which provides miles again while you go down the opposite facet. The estimated vary numbers really correspond fairly effectively to precise miles pushed.

I’ve discovered it’s easier to concentrate to the inexperienced SOC indicator on the left facet of the instrument cluster and consider it like a fuel gauge. With expertise, I do know that if it reveals a 50% cost, I can drive about 125 miles. If I have to go 200 miles, I might want to cost up alongside the way in which. If not, I’ll merely plug in once I get dwelling.

I’m utilizing a 120-volt wall outlet at dwelling. It’s painfully sluggish, however it’s common for the automotive to sit down for a day or two with out getting used. Whether it is plugged in all that point, who cares? I by no means need to cease at a fuel station anymore, and nobody ever got here and crammed the tank of our Civic whereas it was parked. It’s all what you get used to. As soon as you determine the brand new regular, the fears about vary and charging principally disappear.

Remaining Ideas

There are many complaints concerning the entrance seats within the Chevy Bolt, particularly on early vehicles like mine. How an organization that has made hundreds of thousands of seats may get issues so mistaken is a thriller to me. I discover the entrance seats within the Bolt to be like sitting on a picket bench — and never in a great way!

Chevy Bolt

Picture by Steve Hanley for CleanTechnica. All rights reserved.

I discovered a number of movies on YouTube about how you can add padding to the seats. It appeared like extra bother than it was value, particularly the half about not damaging the wire to the seat heaters. I checked on-line and located any variety of seat cushions starting from about $25 to over $150, however studying the evaluations, it appeared individuals weren’t thrilled with any of them.

My spouse advisable I attempt a Cush reminiscence foam cushion, so I ordered one from Amazon ($20). It’s nice! I put it on the entrance seat and it’s like I’m driving a Rolls Royce. Greatest twenty bucks I ever spent and it makes driving the automotive so rather more nice.

Chevy Bolt

Picture by Steve Hanley for CleanTechnica. All rights reserved.

Here’s a screenshot of my newest vitality effectivity report, which refreshes each time the automotive is totally charged. It reveals I’m driving practically 5.5 miles for each kWh used. That’s fabulous, particularly since lots of these miles are in pretty hilly terrain. Then again, I’m virtually by no means on the freeway and rarely want to make use of the A/C.

Total, I’m delighted with the Bolt. Yesterday, I made a visit by means of Bigelow Hole, which has numerous hills and curvy roads main as much as and away from it. It’s a street that I used to savor once I had my Mazda Miata. The Bolt flattens the hills and the regen tames the curves in a manner that’s completely different than the Miata however simply as satisfying.

I even had a possibility to cross a slower automotive on a two-lane street on the way in which dwelling. The Bolt simply leapfrogged that automotive prefer it wasn’t even there. No throbbing engine. No gnashing gears. Simply easy, easy acceleration. As quickly as I made a decision to cross, I used to be by and had the street to myself. Electrical vehicles are superb!

The Takeaway

There are some issues I don’t look after with the Bolt. To regulate the side-view mirrors, you first need to press both the appropriate or left button after which make the adjustment. It’s an annoying distraction. However I’m studying to essentially benefit from the automotive. The primary few weeks, I babied it, fearing I’d deplete the battery if I drove con brio. However now I’m driving it the way in which I usually do, with a sure diploma of élan.

No automotive is appropriate for each driver, and a Chevy Bolt does have some limitations which can make it not the appropriate selection for some drivers. However for most individuals, it’s a completely advantageous car that simply occurs to be electrical. I nonetheless price it 4½ stars as a result of it isn’t as refined as a Tesla, however it’s a rattling good automotive that’s effectively well worth the cash.


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