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Personal: Two Years with My Chevrolet Bolt EVClean Fleet Report

Chevrolet Bolt

A Glad Life with GM’s EV

[Originally posted on Steve’s personal blog—SteveGoesGreen on Jan. 9]

In the present day marks two years of my life spent with my Bolt EV. It’s been an excellent journey, to date since that wet January eight, 2017, once I took supply.

At this juncture, the three issues that stand out for me are:

  1. It’s finished precisely what I needed, with nearly no issues
  2. Time has flown
  3. I actually do love my automotive

As a longtime automotive author (27 years), I approached Bolt possession as a really long-term check. I remembered my fantastic three-month check of a Fiat 500e within the first quarter of 2016, and assumed that I’d take an analytical strategy as soon as my new automotive arrived.

Chevrolet Bolt

Steve and his “love”

What I’ve discovered is that in contrast to the usual week-long analysis, dwelling with a automotive for years makes it actually “yours.” I now should deal with mud on the dashboard, used Kleenex within the cupholder, and cleansing the sunshine grey and white leather-based seats. However as an EV, the automotive has wanted precisely zero upkeep. I’m planning to take it in quickly for belated tire rotation and a basic inspection.

The primary cause to have an electrical automotive of my very own was to really expertise life with one. I assumed that if I used to be going to prescribe switching to EVs to my readers, I had higher “walk the walk” and never simply “talk the talk.” It’s straightforward to have a automotive for every week and provides it a glowing report, however this was meant to be a long-term relationship.

The Plan When it Started

I leased my Kinetic Blue Bolt for 3 years at 10Okay miles a yr, assuming that there’d be higher decisions down the road and in addition that that variety of miles made sense with my periodic testing. Because it seems, I hit 20,000 miles on December 27 on my means house from work. Good.

I’ve examined 34 hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electrical, and fuel-cell automobiles since my Bolt arrived. I all the time use my automotive as a comparability car. Is it as straightforward to drive? How are the seats? How a lot vary is accessible? How does the regenerative braking work? Particularly these final two questions are essential for electrical automobiles.

Chevrolet Bolt

The Bolt has sufficient vary to take me all over the place I’ve needed to go

Relating to vary, my Bolt’s EPA 238 miles of vary eliminates a lot of the issues that early Leaf drivers skilled, with round 80 miles obtainable. I solely skilled a few occasions the place I couldn’t use my automotive and as an alternative opted for an alternate. In a single case, I needed to attend a chamber music workshop final summer time that was 300 miles away, with few charging stations of any variety on the best way. I opted for a gasoline-powered check automotive.

Just lately, I drove my automotive for a couple of days with no recharge and I discovered myself with 50 miles vary. Based mostly on that, I selected to go to a nearer vacation spot than I initially meant as a result of I wasn’t positive I’d be capable of cost up the place I used to be headed and make it residence. Oddly, it was at a shopping mall that had no charging stations. Appeared odd, since they’re typically situated there. Quick access to charging continues to be a problem for EV drivers, though it’s enhancing. Many extra stations are coming right here in California and elsewhere. I usually can do effective charging at work or at house.

Regenerative braking is the best way that hybrids just like the Toyota Prius get their electrical energy, since they haven’t any plugs. For EVs, it’s a strategy to prolong vary, and in addition allows one-pedal driving. Once I put my Bolt into “L” mode (as an alternative of “D”) utilizing the shift lever, I can press down on the accelerator to maneuver ahead and launch it to decelerate. With the Bolt, you possibly can actually come to a whole cease on this mode. I’ve honed my expertise to the place I can see a purple mild forward and ease off on the pedal and arrive proper on the line with out touching the brake pedal. You possibly can think about how lengthy my brake pads ought to final!

Some automobiles have adjustable quantities of regeneration, and a few launch the regen at a couple of miles per hour, necessitating the brake. However my Bolt lets me cease on a dime.

Calculating the Key Journeys

One requirement for getting an EV was I had to have the ability to journey the 85 miles every option to my granddaughters and again with out having to cost. With 238 miles, that is no sweat, however I’ve observed that in colder winter climate, my automotive’s vary goes down a bit. It’s now nearer to 200, and meaning it’s somewhat dicier. On Christmas day, I arrived at my household vacation spot with a few half battery of cost left. Simply to be protected, I plugged into my son’s family present (degree 1 – 120 volts) and partially refilled the battery in a single day.

Chevrolet Bolt

A useful again beat and storage for gear prime off Bolt’s options

Through the two years, most of my charging has occurred at work, on the row of ChargePoint chargers. It takes a pair to a number of hours to fill the battery, relying on how a lot it’s depleted. I typically simply skip charging, since there’s lots there, however it’s good to maintain it topped up. Beginning in April, I’ll cost at residence drawing electrical energy from my new photo voltaic panels.

I’ve gotten the official 238 miles of cost that the EPA provides the Bolt, however in colder temperatures, or if I’ve pushed on the freeway quite a bit, it averages extra like 200 or so, which is generally a lot. Proper now, it’s saying about 185 or 190 when it’s “full,” so I’m going to have my vendor examine it once they look over the automotive at it’s “two-year inspection.” In fact, there might be no oil change or radiator flush (there aren’t any). They’ll rotate the tires, which is an overdue service (at no cost).

The Bolt has value me zero dollars or time in upkeep. The electrical energy I’ve purchased at work prices lower than half the worth of gasoline. I’ve additionally saved half off my bridge tolls by getting my stickers to drive within the carpool lane alone ($22/yr). Simply earlier than the brand new yr, I caught new purple ones over the unique white ones, so I can proceed saving money and time. The stickers final till January 1, 2022.

Spreading the Phrase

With my very own EV, I’ve participated in and written a few bunch of electrical automotive occasions, together with a pair I hosted at my workplace for Nationwide Drive Electrical Week. These occasions give potential house owners an opportunity to pattern EVs with out salespeople or strain. We often let the individuals journey in and typically, even drive our automobiles to allow them to perceive how nice EVs are. I’ll be doing extra firm issues this yr, wanting towards the primary annual Drive Electrical Earth Day occasions.

Chevrolet Bolt

It began in a Chevy showroom two years in the past

Some individuals inform me that they’re ready for an EV that appears like a “regular car” earlier than they’ll think about one. I agree that the Bolt is proportioned just like the Nissan Leaf hatchback–the pioneer–and the odd-looking BMW i3. As for me, I actually like the best way the Bolt appears, and my affection for it has grown through the years. Once I see one other one drive by, I holler, “Bolty!”

However producers have an entire fleet of latest EVs coming within the subsequent few years that may make selecting an EV straightforward. The Hyundai Kona small crossover EV ought to be on sale now. I’ve pushed the fuel model and seen the EV on the auto present, and it’s the sort of small, usable automotive I like. It’s compact, however in contrast to the Bolt, it’s a crossover, not a tall hatchback (a effective however essential distinction), with an EPA-rated 258 miles of vary and a lower cost. It ought to make a huge impact.

The Tesla Mannequin Three has been the large EV star in 2018, promoting a whopping 145,846 automobiles, which dwarfs EV gross sales by the opposite corporations and is an enormous quantity for nearly any luxurious mannequin. Perhaps it’s the Tesla magic, or the truth that it appears like a beautiful sedan. It’s costlier than a Bolt, however that doesn’t appear to have prevented it from proliferating.

What I Like Concerning the Bolt

My automotive’s hatchback configuration has confirmed to be precisely what I want to hold my musical gear. An upright bass slides proper in. I even discovered a method to carry the large bass plus two bass guitars, an amplifier, and my cords, cables, stands, and so on. When not hauling gear, there’s loads of room for 2 adults within the again (and room for a child within the center, if mandatory).

Chevrolet Bolt

I cost at work and residential, however can use a rising charging community

The low window line up entrance provides the Bolt a spacious really feel, as does my automotive’s mild grey and white inside. I selected the brighter sprint, seats and doorways once I positioned my order with out figuring out precisely what it might appear to be. The automotive I noticed on the auto present that yr had the black and darkish grey inside, which I consider is the usual one. The one draw back is the tendency of the sunshine grey higher sprint panel to mirror within the windshield, however with polarized sun shades, it’s by no means a fear.

Electrical automobiles have nice torque, and my little automotive can actually take off once I step on it. I not often push it, because it’s a waste of battery cost, however accelerating up an on ramp is enjoyable. The 6.Three-second zero-to-60 time is equal to a sporty Volkswagen GTI. With 900+ kilos of battery under the ground, the Bolt boasts a low middle of gravity, which suggests stability in curves.

What’s Subsequent

I now have a yr to benefit from the Bolt earlier than it’s time to show it in. What ought to I do? I do know there are many new automobiles on the best way from VW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, Volvo and others. The Hyundai Kona and Kia Niro crossovers are compelling (and reasonably priced), as is the third-generation Kia Soul (in case you like packing containers). GM might have one other all-electric out there in a yr–the idea pictures look spectacular. The Mini EV is due by yr’s finish, too. Additional upscale, the all-new Mercedes EQC–the primary of the model’s new EQ lineup of electrics–was launched in the present day on the Shopper Electronics Present (CES) in Las Vegas.

Ought to I see what sort of a deal I can get to only purchase the Bolt? I’ve time to consider it.

Hyundai Koan EV

Subsequent yr will see extra decisions, like the brand new Hyundai Kona crossover

I by no means anticipated to drive a Chevrolet, frankly. Though my household had Chevys once I was rising up, together with a number of Corvairs, I all the time owned previous VWs and new Hondas and Toyotas. Home automobiles didn’t have top quality years in the past, though I did attempt the primary yr Saturn. The excellent news is, as we speak the home manufacturers have high quality parity with the leaders. Aside from a few minor electrical glitches (that didn’t have an effect on driving) and one unfastened plastic clip within the rear cargo space, the Bolt has been rock strong.

Sure, the inside isn’t luxurious, however I nonetheless respect its flowing design day-after-day. The 10.2-inch middle display is nice to work with. Apple CarPlay is elegant, as is the Bose sound in my upgraded audio system. The seats, which some consumers complained about, work nice for me.

I’ll proceed to put in writing about my Bolt this yr, and as 2019 winds down, I’ll share my ideas concerning the future with you. Please proceed to verify right here for tales about going inexperienced.

You possibly can signal as much as get common updates from Steve and different Clear Fleet Report writers within the higher proper portion of this web page.

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