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Autonomous Vehicles

Published on May 19th, 2018 | by Guest Contributor

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Why This Chevy Bolt Owner Decided It Was Time For A Tesla Instead

May 19th, 2018 by  


Originally Published on EVANNEX.
By Charles Morris

Last year, EV driver Jay Lucas of Alexandria, Virginia, contributed an account of a road trip in a Chevy Bolt to Green Car Reports. However, he’s now driving a used Tesla Model S, and he wrote a follow-up piece for GCR, explaining why he finds the Tesla to be a superior choice for long-distance driving.

Giving up a Chevy Bolt for a used Tesla Model S (Image: Alex Venz)

Lucas still loves the Bolt. “I think it is Chevy’s supreme creation, and it carried me with spirit and verve all around Northern Virginia,” he writes. “But now I have a Tesla, and my son has the Bolt. I have given up some things, but boy, have I gained others.”

“Last summer, my buddy Stewart accompanied me on a 600-mile trek in the 2017 Bolt EV — I’ve just completed that same journey in the Tesla with my wife,” Lucas writes. “The two cars provided very different experiences: in the Bolt EV, we felt like pioneers, whereas in the Tesla, the level of worry and unknowns was far lower. That’s why I switched to Tesla — for a better long-distance trip experience.”

Lucas calls the Bolt “a really good car if you’re not doing long-distance trips,” but listed a number of reasons why he prefers the Tesla for long hauls. If your driving pattern includes frequent road trips, his new article is worth reading in its entirety.

GM’s Chevy Bolt (Flickr: Dave Pinter)

The main reasons the Tesla excels on the highway have to do with the company’s Supercharger network. First, charging at a Supercharger is much faster than using a CCS fast charger. “The half-hour to 45 minutes at a Supercharger is much more satisfying than the typical hour or 90 minutes required at any 50-kilowatt (non-Tesla) fast-charging site,” Lucas writes. Also, “Many of those commercial sites stop after 30 minutes of charging, requiring a restart of the charging process, which I’ve always found infuriating.”

Tesla started building Superchargers years ago, before other EV-makers were even thinking about the need for fast charging — observers of the charging scene have noted that Tesla’s head start allowed it to grab much of the best real estate, and Lucas confirms this advantage: “Superchargers are sited better, with a greater selection of nearby restaurants and other facilities. They’re also closer to the highway. While some CCS charging stations were well-located, and more and more are appearing in highway rest stops and travel plazas, that’s still the exception rather than the rule.”

“The on-road charging process is automatic and hassle-free for a Tesla,” Lucas continues. “While some commercial charging networks are better than others, most require some type of interactive card, credit card, or phone app to be used. With the Tesla Supercharger, I just grab the charger cord and bring it close to the Model S, the port springs open, and in goes the plug.”

→ Related: Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure: Guidelines For Cities (2018) 

Accessing Tesla’s Supercharger network makes road trips easier (Flickr: David van der Mark)

Everyone knows that Tesla makes the fastest, most powerful EVs on the market. However, many may not realize that this gives them a practical advantage on the highway (not just bragging rights at the drag strip). “My Bolt EV was spunky off the line, but on a recent trip in the Tesla, I had to pass some fully loaded gravel trucks on a winding two-lane mountain road with a very limited passing zone,” writes Lucas. “The Tesla shot me past the trucks well before the dotted line became solid, far faster than I had imagined.”

Lucas also finds that high-speed driving doesn’t seem to drain the Tesla’s battery as much. “In the Bolt EV, 70 mph seemed to be a bright red line. Above that speed, my energy use per mile skyrocketed and range dropped noticeably. The Tesla seems to slip through the air more gracefully, and while I don’t use a heavy foot, I can be freer with the accelerator.”

When it comes to the navigation system, Lucas notes that finding a route that includes charging sites is easier in the Tesla, but that the Bolt’s nav system is more flexible. “Once it decides on a route, it takes heaven and earth — or devious trickery — to change the Tesla’s mind. Using Apple CarPlay in the Bolt EV as my navigation system (it also uses Android Auto), I had access to far more information about slowdowns and accidents ahead, and the system would offer to reroute me to save time.”

On the road in a Tesla Model S (Flickr: Paul Sableman)

Lucas also praises the Model S’s cold-weather performance, and Tesla’s live technical support. Overall, his account makes a pretty convincing case for the Californian car. However, all these goodies come at a price: Lucas bought his CPO Model S for around $70,000 (original price: $100,000). The smaller and less luxurious Bolt EV cost $43,000 brand new (and qualified for the $7,500 federal tax credit).

So, you get what you pay for — no news there. The big question we’re left with: How does Tesla’s more affordable Model 3 measure up on long road trips?


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