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2018 Chevy Bolt EV
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
On Friday (1/14/22), my VIN came up in the Bolt battery replacement "lottery". I called Castle Rock Chevy, GM, etc. and they placed the order for my new pack, expected delivery time 7-10 days.

For those who are not familiar with the Bolt recall, two relatively rare defects were discovered resulting from manufacturing issues. Initially, like Hyundai, GM thought software might be effective in detecting conditions that led to fires (about 15 known fires out of 170K or so Bolts on the road). Initially, it was thought that US made cells were not prone to these defects. GM and LGES shifted Bolt battery manufacturing from South Korea to Holland, MI in early 2019, and the majority of fires were in Bolts manufactured in the twilight hours of manufacturing in SK.

In mid-2019, LGES and GM tweaked the cell chemistry to substitute aluminum (I think) for some of the Cobalt content in the cells and the result was a gain of ~10% capacity. With 2020 model year Bolts, they started advertising an increase in range from 238 miles to 259 miles as a result of the mods.

After a fire or two in Bolts with this new software and newer battery cells, the recall was expanded to include all model year Bolt EV and EUVs, with a promise of an entirely new (refurbished) pack and restarted warranty. Production was discontinued on 2022 model year Bolts. Within several weeks, LGES and GM determined methods to catch the defects in the QA process, and cell production was resumed, but new Bolt manufacturing has remained idle with an estimated restart of late February. The result is more cells available for replacement packs!

As 2019 models with SK batteries were the highest incident rate, GM gave priority to this "class" of the fleet and started replacing packs with the newly manufactured cells. All replacement packs therefore are made with the higher capacity cells, thus promising increased capacity and range for the older Bolt owners. To top it off, GM is restarting the 8 year, 100K mile battery warranty with the replacement packs, making the most costly component of these cars effectively new, and restarting the lifecycle clock for owners.

As of this past week, GM has shipped over 19K refurbished packs to dealers to install in owners cars. A majority of early 2019 model year Bolts already have these new packs, and 2017-2018 Bolts started to get notices that they had become eligible for the replacement packs. What started as a monthly batch of VINs moved into the eligible for replacement recall category in the initial phase became a biweekly batch, then about a week ago, they shifted to a weekly batch of status updates. The Service Manager at CR Chevy, someone I have spent considerable time chewing the fat with on previous recall SW updates shared with me, the pace of deliveries and delivery lead times is improving steadily.

Along the way, a few reports of problems following the replacement have emerged in online sites. GM has refined the recall remedy instructions and systems to reduce the chances of these problems, so future issues are going to be less likely. One of these was a computer glitch informing dealers to install the wrong BMS software update, the other a dealer tech error improperly refilling the battery thermal management coolant.

The replacement effort involves roughly a day of tech work, followed by topping off the pack before returning the car to the owner. Owners are asked to not charge in the 24 hours preceding bringing their cars in, and arriving with a state of charge under 70% or so. Apparently, this is for shipping\safety reasons, the recall instructions require the dealer to run the Bolt on high HVAC with all of the accessories on to burn off excess charge which adds considerable time. Further, the car must sit for a day before they touch it if it was charged within 24 hours of bringing it in.

In my personal situation, the timing really couldn't be better. My wife and I recently retired and will be taking some rather long trips in the Bolt starting in mid-February. The first leg of the journey will be CO to San Diego to spend time with family and friends and begin our retirement celebrations. That leg will be about 1200 miles. Next, we will travel to Virginia (DC Area) to spend more time with family, then a week in Williamsburg for some site seeing. That leg is expected to be about 2800 miles. Finally, in early April, we will return to CO with another 1600 miles of EV travel. All told, over 6000 miles.

Now, many people pooh pooh the Bolt as a long distance EV. The Bolt is only capable of 55kW peak DCFC charging speeds at relatively low (under ~50-55%) state of charge. In fact, our first Bolt trip in 2018 between Monument and Ouray along I-70 then Hwy 50\550 was a difficult trip. At the time, there were only two DCFC sites along the route, both 20kW DCFC (Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction). The trip was so painfully slow, my wife vowed to veto and EV trips until we retired and had more time on our hands.

Well, the time has come, and I am holding her to her pledge!

Fortunately, DCFC infrastructure is INFINITELY better in 2022 than 4 years ago, thanks to Electrify America and outstanding grant programs like Charge Ahead CO. In mapping out this trip, I have found few, if any gaps exceeding 100 miles. While I expect some of our stops may be 150-175 miles apart to optimize things, if there are circumstances requiring us to stop sooner, there appear to be options. I expect to use less than 40% of the DCFC chargers along most stretches of the journey.

So, what about slow charging? Since our Ouray trip, we have done a few shorter trips to Grand Junction\Palisade, and Steamboat Springs. I have "mastered" the art of EV Charging multitasking, meaning finding activities to occupy charging downtime makes the task seem quite trivial. On one trip, we stopped 3 times for DCFC and combined two of these with sit down meals. My wife despises fast food, so taking in a meal at Chili's and the like is more to her liking. Fortunately, this means it typically takes longer to eat a meal than to charge the Bolt to a reasonable level to continue the journey. We intend to add site seeing, shopping, entertainment and other activities in these longer trips, making sure to take the rush out of the trips.

Watch this thread for a post recall surgery recap if you are interested. And also watch for a recap of the trips in coming months.
 

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Thanks for all the great info here Rob. Wasn't aware of not charging the Bolt's 24 hours before the recall work and to arrive at 70% or less. Will probably try to arrive with 40% to make it quicker for them. I have yet to receive my go ahead on this recall. Even though my Bolt is a 2019. It does have the Michigan battery. Also, I'm not sure which dealer I should take it to. I haven't been very impressed with Colorado Springs dealers, so thinking I may take it to Castle Rock, if you recommend them. Or maybe a Denver dealer. Looking forward to hearing about your 6,000 mile EV adventures. Planning on driving my Bolt longer range soon too.
 

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Thanks for all the great info here Rob. Wasn't aware of not charging the Bolt's 24 hours before the recall work and to arrive at 70% or less. Will probably try to arrive with 40% to make it quicker for them. I have yet to receive my go ahead on this recall. Even though my Bolt is a 2019. It does have the Michigan battery. Also, I'm not sure which dealer I should take it to. I haven't been very impressed with Colorado Springs dealers, so thinking I may take it to Castle Rock, if you recommend them. Or maybe a Denver dealer. Looking forward to hearing about your 6,000 mile EV adventures. Planning on driving my Bolt longer range soon too.
Welcome to the forum. How do you like the improvements in the Bolt over the Spark EV?
Will you be replacing the Spark sometime soon?
 

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Welcome to the forum. How do you like the improvements in the Bolt over the Spark EV?
Will you be replacing the Spark sometime soon?
Thanks. The Bolt has been amazing. Best car I've ever had. Fast, quiet, smooth and I almost never need to brake with one pedal driving. I really enjoy the spark too. Plan on keeping them both. Biggest differences that make me appreciate the Bolt are range and one pedal driving. See you on the road.
 

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Thanks for all the great info here Rob. Wasn't aware of not charging the Bolt's 24 hours before the recall work and to arrive at 70% or less. Will probably try to arrive with 40% to make it quicker for them. I have yet to receive my go ahead on this recall. Even though my Bolt is a 2019. It does have the Michigan battery. Also, I'm not sure which dealer I should take it to. I haven't been very impressed with Colorado Springs dealers, so thinking I may take it to Castle Rock, if you recommend them. Or maybe a Denver dealer. Looking forward to hearing about your 6,000 mile EV adventures. Planning on driving my Bolt longer range soon too.
What kind of experiences have you had with the Colorado Springs dealers?
 

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What kind of experiences have you had with the Colorado Springs dealers?
They seem to have little knowledge or interest in EV's. I had to explain to one guy(the same guy I always get) why my car doesn't need an oil change!:ROFLMAO: Also, when I was told about the new update for the Bolt, that limits the charge to 80% in November, they told me it wouldn't be available till January. Why so difficult to do a software update? I have not yet had that update and probably won't now. I limit the charge to 80% myself anyways. They haven't been horrible, but not ideal either. Not sure if I want this dealer putting in my new battery in when that time comes. That process will be pretty involved.
 

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Rob, I take it your trip went well. I know people who do long distance Bolt driving across states, the car does just fine. I also agree on just how much better charging is. Ouray though has had its charger down over a year, I have not checked this year yet to see if they fixed it. We do have a DCFC online in Durango I put pictures of on plugshare. I look forward to charging being built across Wyoming so we don't have to go to Utah and Idaho to get to Yellowstone for example, that is a long way around.
 

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2018 Chevy Bolt EV
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Rob, I take it your trip went well. I know people who do long distance Bolt driving across states, the car does just fine. I also agree on just how much better charging is. Ouray though has had its charger down over a year, I have not checked this year yet to see if they fixed it. We do have a DCFC online in Durango I put pictures of on plugshare. I look forward to charging being built across Wyoming so we don't have to go to Utah and Idaho to get to Yellowstone for example, that is a long way around.
Trip went great, Bolt is perfectly capable of long trips...provided you are patient. DCFC speed tops at 55kW, and begins tapering just before 50%. Fortunately, the new pack tapers instead of step downs on charging speed, so overall it charges a little faster. And the extra 10-15% capacity of the new pack helped considerably in a few situations.

Ouray is getting DCFC, the L2 isn't going to be revived (I don't think). Here is the Plugshare description:

This DCFC station, currently under construction, is part of the Colorado electric vehicle fast charging Corridors project of the Colorado Energy Office. It will have four CCS/CHAdeMO ChargePoint stalls located on the northern edge of the Hot Springs Pool parking lot, adjacent to the Ouray River Park Townhomes. The Hot Springs Pool, a park and restrooms are adjacent to the parking lot. Numerous restaurants are available in town, a short walk from the charge station. (The old Level 2 charge station has been out of service for several years and is unlikely to return.)

It's too bad the L2 isn't being revived. L2 would be a better solution for overnight or topping off.

We have friends in Great Falls that we want to visit. I see there are several DCFC funded by the state of MT that will help between Billings and GF, and an EA in Casper.


But I think we need one near Sheridan as well before that is an easy trip. There is however an L2 at the Honda dealer in Sheridan, so maybe an overnight stop there would make it possible? But I don't like relying on dealer charging, they often block access out of hours.
 

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2019 Nissan LEAF SV Plus
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Yea Stan my kinda neighbor down the street takes a Bolt on long trips regularly. I have seen people do cross country in a Bolt. It works fine as you say you just need to be patient. It's probably still the cheapest cross country capable car. The LEAF runs into heat buildup issues throttling charging after the 2nd or 3rd in a day.
 

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2018 Chevy Bolt EV
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yea Stan my kinda neighbor down the street takes a Bolt on long trips regularly. I have seen people do cross country in a Bolt. It works fine as you say you just need to be patient. It's probably still the cheapest cross country capable car. The LEAF runs into heat buildup issues throttling charging after the 2nd or 3rd in a day.
I hear a lot of folks argue Bolt is at best, a good commuter option, but not a trip-capable EV. For many, this is quite true as 30-90 minutes of charging every 100-150 miles is difficult to do when time (and impatient kids) is a considerable constraint. But, on balance, for those with less critical time constraints, the cost vs benefit value of the Bolt is kind of a sweet spot.

Honestly, as we are new to retirement, our likely future is to trade in our Hyundai Tucson (ICE) for a better long range BEV and keep the Bolt in service as the around-town car. Having charged next to Ioniq5, and EV6 several times on our trip, the prospect of 20 minute stops at the same interval as the 45 minute stops in the Bolt would reduce stress and fatigue considerably on trips is apparent.

Fortunately, it appears 2023-2025 is shaping up to be a bonanza for better trip-capable BEVs. This is also likely to be the "tipping point" for BEV adoption for a number of reasons. The number of pickups, full sized SUV, as well as perhaps sedans seems to be setting the stage for many ICE owners to give BEVs a serious look without compromising their standards for vehicle choices. Coupled with infrastructure improvements, the pain points of early adopters are now mostly in the rear-view mirror.
 

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I do think the Bolt with it's low cost is in a sweet spot, no thermal throttling problem either. I have been able to manage two kids charging 3 times in a day OK. I typically go closer to 200 miles and have done 240 or so as well (I hypermile on trips and have an OBDII to read real battery capacity and can do real time plots with other software reading trip vs power reading from OBDIi and elevation etc. so I am not an average user).

200 mile capable EVs like the Bolt at a reasonable price was one big milestone in my opinion. The faster charging EVs are certainly a big help I agree, I would love a 20 minute stop. I also agree that pickups are important as is the improvements of infrastructure. I am amazed how much has changed just in the last 3 years.

The main pain I see is people who live in apartments as they may have to rely on public charging.
 

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2018 Chevy Bolt EV
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I do think the Bolt with it's low cost is in a sweet spot, no thermal throttling problem either. I have been able to manage two kids charging 3 times in a day OK. I typically go closer to 200 miles and have done 240 or so as well (I hypermile on trips and have an OBDII to read real battery capacity and can do real time plots with other software reading trip vs power reading from OBDIi and elevation etc. so I am not an average user).

200 mile capable EVs like the Bolt at a reasonable price was one big milestone in my opinion. The faster charging EVs are certainly a big help I agree, I would love a 20 minute stop. I also agree that pickups are important as is the improvements of infrastructure. I am amazed how much has changed just in the last 3 years.

The main pain I see is people who live in apartments as they may have to rely on public charging.
I believe the low hanging fruit we need for improved infrastructure is ubiquitous L2 at hotels and multi-family units. If residents ask and demand, landlords will eventually pay attention. Grants from states (using infrastructure funds) could also target both of these. Even property tax relief would create an opportunity for property owners to pay more attention to the issue.

Hotels would be a big win, relieving some of the strain on DCFC sites (which will become more of a thing as adoption increases), and cutting 1-2 DCFC sessions per travel day would be a great benefit for long distance travelers. Our standard was to DCFC as close to our overnight stop as possible so we had enough range for the first leg the next day. If L2 were available (it wasn't on our trip), we would drive a bit farther, plug in overnight, and our first stop the next day would be 50-75 miles or more further than the first stop following an end of day DCFC to 60%. A lot less stressful too!

Both of these need not be free, a basic fee that covers most or all of the energy cost would be fine with me.

Our Bolt easily averaged about 500 miles per day on the trip. The biggest factor was elapsed time, my wife had little tolerance for much more than 8 hours in the car. Shorter charging times, including overnight charging at hotels would shave considerable charging time each day, allowing us to over a bit more distance.
 
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