2023 Chevy Bolt, image courtesy of GM

My First EV, Part 2 — How Far Can You Drive In A Chevy Bolt? How Much Will You Pay?

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First see “My First EV, Part 1.”

Three weeks ago, I picked up my new Bolt from the dealer. The dashboard showed a fully charged battery and a range of 241 miles. It also showed max and min numbers which I did not pay too much attention to.

When I got home 120 miles later, the dashboard showed 120 miles left in the “tank.” The car’s estimate was right on the money. To avoid any “range anxiety,” I decided to check it under various conditions.

According to FuelEconomy.gov, the Bolt gets 131 mpg in the city and 109 mpg on the highway. This is based on the assumption that 1 gallon of gas = 33.7 kWh. In my neck of the woods, if I charge at home, I pay $0.15/kWh, and 1 gallon of gas is now $6. This means instead of 33.7 kWh, for the price of 1 gallon, I can buy 40 kWh of electricity, which pushes the average to 155 mpg in the city and 129 mpg on the highway. If you consider an EV, you can figure your numbers where you live.

I took a few short trips around town. Before each trip, I noted the estimated range and the odometer. At the end of each trip, I calculated the differences and I had a pleasant but somewhat expected surprise.

The range displayed on the screen is an average based on combined driving. When I drive only on city streets and I brake almost only with regenerative braking, I get about 30 miles for every 20 miles of depleted battery. When the dashboard shows a range of 250 miles, it also shows a max of over 300 miles, and for city driving I think it’s true.

I also took two long trips of about 250 miles each. I charged once at an EVgo station and once at a ChargePoint station. Each time, I bought 70–80 miles in 30 minutes for $12. The charging time was about twice as fast as the factory estimate of 100 miles per hour. The estimated range was exactly the driving range, almost to the mile. Most of the time I drove on Super Cruise at 65 mph.

The Bolt has a factory estimated range of 259 miles. After a few full charges, now it shows 266 miles. My next trip was 33 miles, about 25 of which were on the highway. On the way up, I was late, so I drove on the 280 freeway, flowing with the traffic at about 75 mpg. On the way back, I was not in a rush, so I stayed at 65. The net result was 35 mostly highway miles, for 33 miles on the battery.

Leaving for a short trip with 266 miles of full charge. Photo by Mihai Beffa.
35 miles later, still 233 miles left. Photo by Mihai Beffa.

If the estimated range goes down even with 1 mile, the dashboard says “Plug in to charge.” I am assuming GM knows what it is talking about, and actually the car does not charge to 100% but keeps a safe margin to prolong battery life. At least, that’s what seems to be the consensus on the net, so I keep the car charged to 100%.

Please note the average energy spent of 3.9 miles per kWh. At $0.15 per kWh charging at home, I am paying 3.8 cents per mile, and no oil changes in my future. I like my Bolt.

Next week, I am scheduled for my Level 2 charger installation. This should “upgrade” my charging speed from the “economy” 4.5 miles per hour to the “business class” 35 miles per hour. Please stay tuned. I will make some measurements as soon as I have the charger installed.

By Mihai Beffa

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