Road Trippin across Texas in our Bolt

Discussion in 'Bolt EV' started by WadeTyhon, Oct 21, 2017.

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  1. WadeTyhon

    WadeTyhon Well-Known Member

    My wife and I took our first long range trip in our Chevy Bolt! It was pretty much smooth sailing the entire way.

    The Longest days of the trip were from McKinney to our hotel in Austin (250 miles total) and from Austin to San Antonio to Dallas (380 miles over the course of the day).

    While driving on I35 we stayed at whatever the speed limit was. The majority of highway driving was between 65 and 75 miles per hour. The weather was perfect.

    About 40 miles from our apartment, we stopped in Desoto at a Cracker Barrell where we grabbed breakfast and topped off our Bolt. We charged again in Round Rock - about 30 miles from Austin. This second charge turned out to be unnecessary we arrived with about 80 miles of range left. But we were hungry and needed to stretch our legs.

    Our charge rates were quite good the entire trip. While the dash numbers are not perfectly accurate, and the mile numbers are dependent on your own efficiency, here is what we observed:

    ~47 kW charging up until about 140 miles.
    ~40 kW until about 190 miles
    ~30 kW until 220 miles.
    On the road we never charged past 220 miles. Ain't nobody got time fo' that!

    Our Austin hotel had 2 L2 6.6 kW chargepoint plugs. After getting a 100% charge after driving an average of 70 mph the entire way, the estimator said we had 235 miles of range. This sounds about right since at home I usually start the day with 280 estimated miles. So the high speeds certainly hurt.

    Our final day of the trip was a long one! We got up early and left for San Antonio at about 8 am. We stopped to charge at San Marcos for only about 20 minutes since we were already at a high state of charge. This was a nice station since it was located behind an outlet mall and was on the far side of the lot. Chances of being ICED was 0!

    We stayed in San Antonio until around 3:00. It was a gorgeous day to spend time walking around the beautiful downtown and river walk. Lots of great shops and restaurants.

    After that we headed home. We spent another 15 minutes at San Marcos for a bathroom break and a charge. Then drove through Austin (during rush hour... not fun...) up to Round Rock where we charged for about 45 minutes. While there, we chatted with a Leaf owner who is considering a Bolt as well.

    We arrived back at the Desoto EVGO with about 60 miles of range left. We considered driving straight home but we were starving so we grabbed some Panda Express and made another ~15 min charge until we hit 100 miles of range. Since the rest of the drive was mostly in high traffic or at city speeds, we arrived back home a little after 9 with 90 miles of range still estimated.

    So from San Antonio to north Dallas, we drove 315 miles in ~ 6 hours. If we hadn't been driving through Austin during rush hour we could have shaved off another 30-45 minutes at least. We also could have skipped the 2 15-minute charging sessions and been fine.

    This is a trip we have taken more than once in our Volt. The Bolt took about 45 minutes longer than it would have in the Volt in the same driving conditions. If this was in the dead of winter, then it would have likely added another 30 minutes for additional charging.

    There are still places that are out of the way for us. Driving to Houston or Colorado would require some L2 charging or stopping at RV parks. Other trips such as Oklahoma City or Shreveport will be no problem for our Bolt.

    But overall it is proof to me that the Bolt (and EVs in general) are excellent road trip cars when the range is long enough and DCFC infrastructure is readily available.

    Our next trip will be to Oklahoma in the spring for a long weekend of camping... we are excited to get our Bolt back out on the road!
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  3. Tim Miser

    Tim Miser New Member

    Thanks for the post! Good to hear the trip was a success. Did you have to use much climate control during the trip? I'm taking a trip from Seattle to Portland tomorrow in the Bolt but it's cold nowadays so we'll have the heater on the entire trip. My fully charged estimator is at 180 miles and I would like to make it to the fast charger in Portland which is 166 miles away. Makes a huge difference when it's cold out. Was getting 240 miles in summer but now the range has dropped to 180 with the temp in the 40's. We'll see as it gets colder if the range estimator drops any further.
  4. WadeTyhon

    WadeTyhon Well-Known Member

    Once we got out of our home town, the weather was wonderful! Austin and San Antonio have a lot less seasonal variation than we do in Dallas!

    But as a result, we did get a little bit of everything weather wise. When we left early on Monday, the weather was in the low 50's. So for the first hour or two the heater was running and our seat and steering wheel warmers were on.

    By the time we ate breakfast and charged in Desoto, the temp was in the mid-60s and we were getting an estimate of a bit over 220 miles based on the 50* temps and 50-ish mph driving from that morning. We turned the heater and heated seats off not long after that.

    But with 40* temps and speeds of 70 mph, I think we would have gotten estimates very similar to what you are getting. In our case, as we got closer to Austin, temps were in the 80's for most of the remaining trip so we switched to A/C.

    While I haven't used my Bolt through a harsh winter yet, here in Dallas we can expect at least a few weeks of temperatures in the 20s and 30s. When I had my Spark EV in weather like this, I would only turn the heater on full blast while still plugged in. After that, I would usually only have the Defroster on, with the temp set to Low (60*) and the heated seats on. That was usually enough to keep me warm and keep the windows clear.

    This method only had a (relatively) modest 15-20% effect on my Spark's range and I would usually get 75 mile ranges in the winter, 85 in the summer, and about 90+ in the spring and fall.
  5. Rob Lay

    Rob Lay Administrator Staff Member

    that's great, we went to Austin this weekend for the F1 race. we thought about taking the Model S, but wimped out. It would have been fine, stayed in the Domain and there were charging stations right in the parking garage.
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  6. gaulfinger

    gaulfinger New Member

    Nice! I'm planning something similar for the holidays to visit my parents. It's good to know those fast chargers I've been eying in Plugshare are working :)

    A couple weekend ago we took our Bolt from DFW to Oklahoma ... easy as pie! We still have 65 miles range left, so no changing required at all for that one.
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  8. WadeTyhon

    WadeTyhon Well-Known Member

    Awesome! Yeah it was a easy low stress trip. Plenty of redundant charging - both CCS and L2. If you go in Nov / Dec you can probably expect temps in the 60's during the day. So you might get a bit less range but you shouldn't need the heater. :)

    I assume you took I-35 up to Oklahoma? Our plan so far is to head that toward Denton on 380, top off our charge at the Aubrey EVGO, and stay at a campground near OKC. I've just got to pick up a NEMA 14-50 adapter before hand. And a place to camp!
  9. Josh Bryant

    Josh Bryant Member

    Thanks for sharing the road trip story!

    Good to hear the triangle is getting some more charging options. Houston to Austin is the regular trip I make. 290 is sparse for DC charging, even Tesla put all their charging along the I-10 route. I am still leaning Model 3, but I will take a peek on PlugShare and see if there is CCS starting to pop up on 290.
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  10. WadeTyhon

    WadeTyhon Well-Known Member

    Yeah the only problematic trip for the triangle is Dallas - Houston. The trip requires cutting through Austin or College Station for a charge unless you wanna hypermile or stop at an RV site on I45.

    I assume you are just taking 290 to Austin and not much further, right? Central texas is an evse wasteland, but Houston to Austin in a Bolt/Model 3 will be a piece of cake. Top off your charge at one of the EVGOs on your way out of the city and you should arrive with plenty of range to hit your hotel or an EVGO.
  11. rgmichel

    rgmichel Active Member

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  13. rgmichel

    rgmichel Active Member

    This is a great account of long distance driving in a Chevy Bolt. I did the same type of thing in the northeast in several states, including CT, MA, NH, ME, NY, NJ, DE, PA, northern WV, OH, and proved to myself that 450 miles a day was feasible and comfortable with the existing charging network. In the future the number of chargers will increase, they will become closer together, and I anticipate that 600 miles a day should be feasible. Basically, the arithmetic is such that you start your day with a full charge and drive 200 or so miles right off, then stop two or three times and charge for 30-40 minutes each time. The Bolt EV charges at 2.4 miles per minute of charging to 80% charge. I tend to charge when I am down to about 50 miles of range left and charge to 80% which has given me about 210 miles of range to go at. You can charge more often if you are heading into a patch where there are not so many chargers and you need to bridge that patch in one drive between chargers.
  14. WadeTyhon

    WadeTyhon Well-Known Member

    Thanks! Totally agree with you. Things are developing quickly and I can't wait to see where the EV transition is by the middle of the next decade.
  15. rgmichel

    rgmichel Active Member

    I believe its going faster than that. I suspect GM is going to come out with new models pretty quickly. Its all there in the Bolt already.
  16. gaulfinger

    gaulfinger New Member

    Happy New Year! Time flies... Our trip was successful! The story is posted on my blog:
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  17. WadeTyhon

    WadeTyhon Well-Known Member

    Congrats on the successful trip! Strange that your card was having trouble being read at the evgo stations.

    Sometimes you have to press it right up against the reader and hold it for a few seconds. You can also download the evgo app to initiate a charge from your phone. :)

    The app wasn’t out yet when i took my trip... but it seems like it would make the 30 minute charge sessions a lot less annoying. Just open the app and swipe to restart it! I will give this a try when we drive up to Oklahoma later this year.

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