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Bolt Road Trip Thread

976 Views 6 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  Lithium
I will be posting regular updates to my upcoming Road Trip on this thread.

Starting 2/18/22, my wife and I will be leaving for two weeks of family visits in the San Diego area. We will be taking the I-70/I-15 route. Following this relaxing time in SoCal, we are off to the East Coast with an interim stop for 2-3 days in Dallas, eventually landing in the DC area and a week in historic Williamsburg. Side trips to Southern NH and Raleigh\Durham, NC are also possible.

My posts will highlight the reliability of Electrify America (primarily) and other networks we encounter along the way. My Bolt recently got the replacement battery pack which achieves a few key enhancements for this trip. With the new pack, 100% SOC is again possible (GM had recommended not charging past 80-90% on the old pack as an interim recall step), the 5% or so degradation of the original pack (over 72K miles) is reset, and the pack has ~10% more capacity than the original. Despite cold temps overnight, my Bolt is displaying 255 miles on the Guess-o-meter (GOM) this morning at 100%, something I rarely saw with the original pack, even in summer months. This seems to bode well for the upcoming travels.

I have no delusions about DCFC charging speeds. The Bolt is limited to ~55kW on DCFC. Fortunately, most of the stops I am planning are 150kW EA chargers. My goal is not to set a cannonball run record, we recently retired and are looking forward to a slower pace.

My planning tools? Basically, Plug Share. I put together a spreadsheet in Excel with data pulled from the Plug Share Trip planner. It is fairly extensive, using miles, speeds, SOC, expected time and kW at charging stops to estimate costs, and factors in expected miles/kWh to estimate arrival SOC. The benefit of using PS Trip Planner is that saved trips can be recalled and displayed on the Car Play interface on the Infotainment system, allowing us to keep the plan visible as needed. The spreadsheet seems to offer a little more flexibility in estimating critical factors and was used to pick DCFC stops to include in the PS trip plan.

My posts won't be daily, but I will try to checkin at each charging stop along the way, for those interested in following the trip in near real-time (probably not many), look for Plug Share checkins for Arob.
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Finally getting some time to provide some details about the first leg of the trip. Our primary mission for the San Diego leg of the trip was to tour Assisted Living facilities for the parental units. We stayed two nights in Chino Hills with my brother and toured facilities, then headed to San Diego to spend time with the parents. Here is an overview:

Trip Segment Description: Colorado - SoCal
Total Miles: ~1200 miles 3.7mi/kWh
Total Driving & Charging Times: 24 hrs Total, Day1: 2h 26m charging, Day2: 2hr 57m charging.
Overnight Stops: Richfield, UT (Free Charge Point in town)
Longest stretch without charging: 205 miles (Home to Glenwood Springs)

Charging Site Run Down - All EA unless noted:
Glenwood Springs: 30kWh - $9.23 No other EVs, ate “hurried lunch” at Chilis.
Grand Junction: 24kWh - $7.83 2022 Bolt EV, 2 plugs (same pedestal) failed to activate.
Green River: 39kWh - $12.09. BMW i4 pre-release.
Richfield: Arrived with ~25 mi on GOM, free Charge Point.
Beaver: 32kWh - $10.65, ID.4
Washington, UT: 26kWh, $8.60, ID.4, eTron GT. Ate hurried lunch at Red Robin.
Las Vegas: 35kWh, $10.85, Helped eTron (1st DCFC attempt)
Baker: 14kWh, $4.34, ID.4. This is a site next to a 40 stall SuC, both are under solar canopies.
Barstow: 24kWh, $7.44, No others.
Diamond Bar: 18kWh, $5.58, no others.
Fallbrook Park & Ride: OOS! 30 miles on GOM! Total Fail!
Escondido (EVGo): Free – hobbled in with ~5 miles on GOM, Charger rebooted when plugged in, never charged me for session!

Spent 2 days in Chino Hills touring Assisted Living for parental units. Installed spare L2 at parents house in SD to take advantage of their Solar energy!

3 days in Oceanside, Temecula Wine Tasting, EA in Vista 30kWh, $9.30 (ID.4 & eGolf).

Above: BMW I4 spotted in Green River, UT was heading to Benmiji, MN for cold weather trials.

Above: Home again! The view from my parents house in SD!

Still have another week in San Diego before heading to Dallas. Will take the parents to Chino Hills to tour Assisted Living facilities, but they insist on driving their Prius to give it some road time. Sill a few High School friends to catch up with in the coming week too!
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Thanks for the update. Seems like a great EV road trip. Always nice finding a free or solar charge. Safe travels.
Update 3 (posted posthumously): Left SDG made it as far as Benson, AZ on day 1, then Van Horn, TX day 2. Headed to Dallas today where we will stay a few days and wait out the rain\snow headed through the rest of the route on Friday\Saturday.

As far as charging goes, had issues with activation at one pedestal in Lordsburg, NM but successfully charged on another pedestal. Only other charging issues were at Tucson Outlet Mall where it appeared only 3-4 out of 12 plugs were available.

Along the way, I was the only one charging at many sites. In Benson, met two guys in an MME who drove a truck to Midland, TX to trade in on the MME. The Midland dealer was the only one they could find without markups on MME. The reason for the trade in? Gas prices, plain and simple! One of the two guys owns two Teslas, so not foreign to EV and he convinced his buddy to take the plunge to EV. They were mostly thrilled with the car, though the Tesla guy made a lot of comments about the UI software feeling like Beta.

Also, helped a Leaf owner plug in the CHAdeMO at an EA in Casa Grande, AZ. It was her first DC charging session and was trying to pay via CC. I suggested trying paying first, then plugging in and it worked! This was the second newbie I have encountered on the trip, both times I advised folks to ignore the plug in first suggestion EA gives, and pay or authenticate first. In both cases, plug in first failed and pay first succeeded. Maybe EA needs to update their instructions?

Will provide more details when we arrive in Dallas, recapping the three travel days with stats. So far, no total failures of DC sites, handful of authentication issues overcome by switching plugs. Bolt charging curve with the new pack appears to reach 54kW in warmer conditions, starts tapering around 50%, no more step downs. My wife is learning the EV charging essentials and we are finding ways to pace ourselves. The wait times, while not ideal, are tolerable.
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Spending the day in Nashville area, had a really nice dinner and got acquainted with a member of the forum and his lovely wife last night. The leg from Jackson to Franklin was a bit of a challenge, 130 miles with enough spare to keep my passenger comfortable meant charging to 85% in Jackson...slow! And at $.12/minute, costly due to <20kW charging speeds at the upper end. Spent time at EA in Jackson talking with a Taycan owner from Winston-Salem, NC.

Met a Bolt owner in Little Rock, and hit several chargers with a guy in a Volvo XC40 Recharge. The EV community is always eager to talk, maybe it is a kill the time thing, or maybe such a small community that we tend to be eager to communicate with each other, that aspect is likely to diminish as adoption rates increase I suspect.

Running the numbers, we have driven nearly 4k miles so far in about a month. I have added about 955 kWh at public chargers, and a bit more at home or free public chargers around town. Total cost of charging thus far is $253.66. If we were driving my wife's Tucson, I estimate our gas costs would have been ~$624 at $4/gallon which seems to be about what prices have been, higher in CA of course.
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Home At Last!

The last day and a half were torture! Headwinds of 50-75MPH and altitude climbs from 900 to 7500FT caused efficiency to drop like a rock. Was averaging 3.5 mi/kWh for most of the trip. Probably under 2 mi/kWh on the home stretch.

From Western KS to home, spacing of EA chargers at ~100 miles proved quite challenging, not so bad in lower elevations and without the headwinds. A 118 minute charging session in Flagler, CO from 20% to 98% only yielded about 140 miles of range on the GOM, with 110 miles to the free charger in Bennet, CO (thanks IREA). Due to headwinds, we slowed to 65MPH and that helped, we arrived with ~32 miles on the GOM. Plenty of time to talk to a couple of ranchers and truck drivers who were quite interested in learning about EVs. Similar experiences in W. KS with a few ranchers. Say what you will about flyover country, but these guys are salt of the earth, quite open to learning about EVs, and very environmentally concerned despite the stereotype of the right being climate deniers. Several members of our local club have participated in car shows in W. KS in their Teslas, they experience similar interest from these flyover folks...seems that part of the country is ripe for EV adoption! EV pickups will certainly be a hit in those areas!

Quick Stats:

Total Miles: 7143.5
EA Charging Sessions: 61 (plus 2 free sessions due to EA app failure described below).
Chargepoint: 2 (plus 2 free DCFC sessions in Richfield, UT).
EVGo: 2 (1 was free due to malfunction described below).
EVConnect: 1 (horrible experience).

Total cost for public DC charging: $487.31
Est. Cost for gas (@$4/gal) in wife's 25MPG car: $1,143.04

I didn't keep close track, but had ~10 sessions fail to activate at EA stations, but in all cases was able to plug in to an alternate station and successfully charge. I reported all issues with EA via the app and got email responses from all of them.

Chargepoint was flawless. EVGo was flawless once, the other time it rebooted as it was activating (with ~5 miles on the GOM), but came up and started charging - free session!. EVConnect at Goodland, KS was terrible, two short sessions failed mid-charge. Gave up after the second one. The Park & Ride in Fallbrook, CA was also a total failure, greedy me chose to try it vs paying for an EA session a few miles back and we were sitting at ~30 miles on the GOM and had to drive 10 miles uphill to an EVGo in Escondido (the one that rebooted described above).

Plugshare was invaluable and totally accurate. I planned a few routes but never really used the plans. My MO was to look ahead 50-125 miles at each stop, figure what GOM estimate I needed to reach the next stop with 30-50 miles of buffer, then repeat. Before choosing a general route, I used Plugshare to survey the chargers on route to make sure the route was viable. Several times, we chose a slightly longer route due to better EA coverage on an alternate. Never used ABRP. Tried MyChevrolet trip planner but never used it, just felt too kludgey to me. I sent a suggestion to Plugshare, that they add elevation to each listing. We found knowing elevation changes was helpful in estimating how much to charge to reach the next stop. PS responded they are likely do add elevation in future updates.

One day in NC, the EA app was failing to locate chargers, it was an app failure following an update to the iOS app. Called CS and got promptly going with free sessions due to their failure. Made the frustration worthwhile I suppose. About 90% of the EA sessions were started using the EA app in Car Play on the Infotainment screen, choose which station, then plug in. This worked flawlessly except when stations were in a funky state, even activating by the app or RFID failed in these funky state stations.

Hit the Orange on the GOM three times, all three times my wife went into panic mode despite having 30 miles of range and close to a charger. OK, so the Escondido one was justified, we ended up with only about 2 miles left when we finally got a charge.

Used my Tesla Tap once, at colonial Williamsburg. Williamsburg city also offers a free 50kW Signet charger in New Town, used that several times. Found 0 hotels with L2 (I honestly didn't look too hard). Used a few free L2 here and there for a few kWh when convenient.

Met a lot of friendly EV folk on the road. Spoke with several Bolt owners, several Kona\Niros, two EV6, three Ioniq5, Mercedes, Taycan, and BMW i4 prototype, several Mach-e and ID.4 and a few Audi including eTron GT (nice looking car!). Only saw two Leafs at DCFC, one was struggling on her first DCFC session at EA and I helped her get a session going, and one Uber driver in Williamsburg who had been driving his Leaf for 3 months and didn't even know about Plugshare. Helped several EV owners get DCFC sessions going, they were all new owners trying their first sessions and were baffled by the whole prospect. They were very grateful for the guidance, nice to be able to offer some guidance.

I never waited for access to a plug, most sites I was either the only EV, or one other. Only a few times were all stations in use, yet no lines for those waiting to charge.

I saw about a dozen Superchargers and never saw anyone using them! Well, except Baker, CA where there are 40 SC stations under a solar canopy with 10 EA stations immediately next to the SuC, also with a solar canopy. Saw plenty of Teslas on the road, but honestly probably about as many CCS EVs as Teslas. Overwhelming number of Teslas in Las Vegas and SoCal.

We initiated this trip as a sort of Retirement celebration. Along the way, we got involved in an Assisted Living search for my parents (success - they move in next week), then rediscovered old friends and family, some of whom we had not seen in 30+ years. But, when all is said and done, this became a nationwide tour of Walmarts, not that that will win the envy of people at our next cocktail party! It was truly an adventure, and the Bolt proved worthy of the task.

I will close by saying, I can't help but think 300-400 mile range and 3X charging speeds would make a world of difference on trips like this. I will crunch some numbers over the next few days but would estimate our average charge stop was 45-50 minutes and cutting this to 20-30 minutes and spaced out a little more would have been a better pace. If spacing of EA chargers was less than 100 miles, say 50 miles, that would also help as we could have stayed in the 20% to 60% range more frequently and cut charging time considerably. Maybe when I pitch my next EV to my wife, she will remember the slow pace and be a little more willing to open the pocketbook?
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Sounds like you had an epic EV adventure. Thanks for all the details, tips and info.

I took my longest trip in the Bolt last week. I had a similar experience at the Goodland, KS DC fast charger. Used it on 4/8 and 4/10. Both times the charge was interrupted after $17 worth of charging. So both times I needed to unplug and plug back in and use my credit card twice each time. Luckily was able to get charge to 100%. Was able to make it back to Colorado Springs with 20 miles on the GOM. Next time I will charge in Colby, KS and skip this charger. Was also charged $1.02 every time I used my cc. Customer service said those will be credited back, we will see. I still have the 60kWh pack. Plan to get the new pack in May or June. That will be nice.
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