Welcome to Ben Bauemeister's Chevy Bolt Testimonial Page

My Chevy Bolt and the Basics of Charging...

This weekend marks the one year anniversary of our purchase of an all electric Chevy Bolt (not to be confused with the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt). We have put just over 9,000 miles on the car in the past year - all of that electricity coming from our solar panels, so completely carbon free.

We have considered an electric car for some time - but given that I still need to get into Seattle on a weekly basis - we wanted a car that would be able to easily make this loop, with extra range for errands and visits in the city. We figured we needed a minimum of 140 miles of consistent range to make this work. While the official range of the Bolt is 238 miles - that number is rarely seen. During the summer we get much closer to 300 miles (over 300 at one point last August!), and around 190 in the winter.

Winter mileage is lower based on 2 factors: climate settings and battery efficiency. All of the accessories that we take for granted in a gasoline powered car do not operate for free in an EV. Lights, heat, wipers, and fan all take a chunk of energy when driving. Also, during the colder months the battery is not capable of holding quite as much energy. If we reduce our climate settings in the winter - we can see 220 miles - but still - not the 280+ that is common in the summer months.

Our Bolt has 3 different charging options. Mostly, we use our Level 2 (220v) plug that we had added to our house. The car can fully recharge overnight on this plug. We chose a ChargePoint plug and had Fredrickson Electric install it. Most of the charging stations that you see around town or on the freeway are these Level 2 stations. They add about 25 miles to the ‘tank’ for every hour that they are plugged in.

The car also has a fast “DC” charging capability. While the plugs for Level 2 are very well standardized, the plugs for DC charging vary widely. There are generally 3 groups: Japanese cars, using a plug called Chademo, Telsa plugs just for that maker, and then the SAE Combo Level 3 plug for American and German cars. While you will find Chademo plugs every 30 miles along Interstate 5, finding SAE Combo plugs is much harder - but that is changing quickly.

On a DC plug my Bolt can take in about 90 miles in 30 mins - but that’s all it can handle at that speed. If I plan a trip well with a charging spot for lunch and for coffee in the afternoon I can drive over 400 miles in a given day. That’s about all my butt can handle anyway.

The car also comes with a Level 1, 110v plug. We keep it in the trunk of the car for emergencies. With this plug, you get only about 4 miles of juice per hour of charging. A full charge takes roughly 50 hours. While this may seem unusable, consider that most people drive less than 40 miles a day, and charging the car after that distance can easily be done overnight.

The Bolt is quiet, quick, responsive, roomy, and very well appointed with many great technical features. I plug in my phone to the car kind of like the R2D2 robot from Star Wars to have it supply my hands free phone, tunes, and maps. My car is even listed as a ‘device’ on my cellphone plan and is a rolling ‘hot-spot’.

After decades of owning Volkswagens, the Bolt is the first American car to grace our driveway. And while I am eager to support our countries manufacturers - I am more proud and pleased that this simple step has taken a hugely carbon intensive component of my routine and made it absolutely carbon-neutral. The car with accessories and after rebates and tax incentives was $34k. True, it’s more than we have spend for cars in the past - but the warranty and limited maintenance requirements will make it the most affordable car we have ever owned.

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