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Month 1 with My Bolt EUV

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Like any good CleanTechnica As a writer, I do long-term reviews of any clean vehicle I buy, borrow, lease, or spend time with the manufacturer. A recent email from GM’s OnStar service tells me that I’ve owned the car for about a month now, so this seems like a good time to give readers an update. Indeed, a month is enough time for “I bought a new car!” feeling to disappear a little, and for a more objective view of the vehicle to happen.

If you want to check out what I’ve written so far, be sure to check it out my first thoughts on the car are hereand my account of driving on some rough dirt roads here. Me too discuss applying for EVSE installation rebates from GM and the energy company here.

Efficiency

OnStar’s email gave me one simple number for a month during which I drove about 1,600 miles: 97 MPGe. On first reading, 97 sounds like a terrible MPGe number, but it’s a number that needs to be put into context.

EPA ratings for the Bolt EUV are 125 in the city and 104 on the highway (since EVs are generally less efficient on the highway, which is the opposite of the situation with internal combustion vehicles). EPA highway tests are usually not very realistic (they have very low highway speeds and simulate traffic slowing down), and besides, I live in the western United States, where speed limits on interstates almost always start at 7, and sometimes start at 8. Most of my driving was on roads with a 75 mph speed limit, and the rest of my local driving was mostly 65 mph freeways. This is most often translated as “Go 80 or you’ll get beat up.”

So, given that I’ve spent a lot of time at highway speeds above the EPA, it makes sense that I see this average value.

That’s about 2.8 MPH and the ABRP OBD connection tells me the car has 61.4 kWh of usable battery capacity. For those who don’t know, the battery capacity is still 66kWh as advertised, but GM is smart and leaves a little buffer at the top and bottom of the battery to make sure it doesn’t get damaged. 2.8mph multiplied by 61.4kWh gives an 80mph range of just over 170 miles, which is pretty good considering the speeds involved.

ABRP gave me some other tidbits of performance information. Reference consumption at 65 mph is 3.43 mpg/kWh (292 Wh/mi). This figure is used by ABRP as a baseline when calculating available range on planned routes, and I’ve found the predicted battery life at charging stops to be very accurate. So 3.4 mph at 65 on level ground seems like a good real-world figure.

The first warranty repair of the car

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is that something broke in the car the day we bought it and it happened before we even left the fleet. The car’s infotainment unit had one of those temporary screen protectors on it, and when my wife took it off, a piece of the corner of the screen came off with it. Apparently it was a minor factory defect (plastic weakness in that corner or something) so they immediately ordered a replacement screen.

The only thing that was annoying was that I couldn’t pick it up quickly after the screen came up and the dealer called me saying they were going to charge the main fee if we didn’t get it the next day. This was during the chaotic bathroom renovation we were already doing, so I went downstairs and took a nap while they replaced the screen.

I think GM needs to work more with suppliers to be flexible about the timing of part replacements and major costs if the customer can’t get to the repair quickly.

One minor annoyance is with the infotainment system

Speaking of the infotainment system, I’ve had two instances where Wi-Fi interference killed my Android Auto session and it didn’t immediately recover. When I tried to reconnect manually, it just wouldn’t work, so I had to do without Android Auto until I could turn the car off, open the driver’s door, and let the car reboot completely.

I know the 2017-21 Bolts could reset the infotainment system by holding down the button, but I can’t find any such instructions on the Bolt EUV, and nothing I’ve tried has reset it other than stopping the car and turning it off completely .

I’m not unrealistic enough to expect perfect calculations. I know even the best systems fail sometimes, and otherwise I’m happy with the infotainment system and wireless Android Auto (but not the myChevrolet app). The only thing I’d really like to see is a simple procedure to reset the infotainment system while driving so I can get Waze back on the screen and music.

Another unpaved adventure

After a great ride on a rather bumpy dirt road near Ruidoso, New Mexico, I decided to take the EUV on another off-pavement adventure. The trip was a bit rushed so I didn’t get any good photos, but I did make it to the Chiricahua Mountains in southeastern Arizona. I’d never been there and didn’t know what to expect, but the roads looked pretty decent on Google Maps (not the first time I’ve ended up in more than I like).

The drive from El Paso was uneventful at all, which is a very good thing. On a full battery I made it to Lordsburg, NM with about a quarter of the battery left and got a pretty full charge at an Electrify America station before leaving the interstate for the afternoon/evening.

The drive to Portal, Arizona was also uneventful, except for some extremely beautiful scenery as we watched the storms pass over Portal from the New Mexico side. But, while I was there to see the sights and have fun, I didn’t bring a good camera. I still resent myself for this decision, because this is what I could have done better:

But even though I missed a few great photo opportunities, I still had a great time and hit some rough trails that most people wouldn’t think an EUV could handle ( The US Forest Service is warning: “High clearance vehicles are strongly recommended. All-wheel drive is also useful if available.” We made a circuit from the small town of Portal to the Southwest Research Station of the American Museum of Natural History, en route to Paradise, Arizona, and back to Portal.

Along the way we navigated washouts, a fairly rocky road (made worse by the popularity of station wagons), a few modest water crossings, and a number of places where I needed the front-facing camera to make sure I wasn’t about to scrape anything. Even when the road was just awful, the suspension provided comfort.

So, as I mentioned earlier, the EUV is a good budget electric car option for people who live in or frequent areas with such roads. The only caveat is that I haven’t tested these roads when they’re muddy or when it’s snowing, so it might only be a good option in the summer if you live far out in the woods.

I’m going to visit the area again soon to see the fall colors and next time I’ll bring a good camera! But I still managed to get one decent picture from the phone:

All images by Jennifer Sensiba.


 

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