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Hey everyone - I've been looking for some insight from someone in/around the Central VA area who has a Bolt (or something similar).

Seriously considering moving to an EV, with the Bolt at the top of my list currently. I have a '19 Hyundai Veloster at the moment, which I do love, but I'd rather go a bit greener ($60/week on gas + frequent oil changes stink). I live in Roanoke and work in Lynchburg, so I commute ~50 miles each way on 460, which is a decently "hilly" drive. I don't think range would be an issue for my commute, but my bigger problem is that there doesn't seem to be any Chevy dealers within a reasonable range that sell the Bolt. Did you guys have a to go out of town to test drive one? I'd really rather purchase locally (and depending on the 2020's, I may end up going new anyways so I could maybe order through a local dealer).

Does the climate and/or terrain around Central VA present any "extra" range problems? (Compared to most posts/folks driving Bolts in CA/etc with much milder weather and all?)

I know Central VA is severely lacking in the charging options area. Luckily I'd still have ICE vehicles at my disposal for any long trips, and I know there's a free level 2 option on my daily commute in case of emergency. I'd also probably be able to get a charger put in at work (work for an electrical distributor, so shouldn't be an issue haha).

Any advise from local owners would be greatly appreciated, thanks!
 

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Central VA is fairly well represented in the (DC Level 1 & 2) DCFC arena (contrast to WV with NO CCS plugs in the entire State!!) There is also a plethora of AC Level 2 both in the mountains and around Richmond. (c.f. PlugShare map, www.plugshare.com) Your climate is perfect (not SC hot, not PA cold). Hilly terrain is no great disadvantage when travelling as you recoup energy on the downhills. What CAN be significant is if your destination is more than 2500 feet higher than your starting point elevation. (Of course, the reverse is also true. My wife & I started in Snowshoe, WV with 200 miles "in the tank" and with 200 miles to drive home to Huntington, WV. We arrived home, 2500' lower MSL, with 120 miles still available {a 320 mile range!}.) I had to go to Frederick, MD (373 miles) in 2017 to buy my Bolt EV as NO dealers in WV were selling them. (We, now, have 2 dealers: Clarksburg & Hurricane.) I am sure you can find a much closer dealer in VA, and licensing is so much easier in a home state. Good luck in your search. EVs ARE the wave of the future, but your future in EVs may not start in 2019.
 

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Central VA is fairly well represented in the (DC Level 1 & 2) DCFC arena (contrast to WV with NO CCS plugs in the entire State!!) There is also a plethora of AC Level 2 both in the mountains and around Richmond. (c.f. PlugShare map, www.plugshare.com) Your climate is perfect (not SC hot, not PA cold). Hilly terrain is no great disadvantage when travelling as you recoup energy on the downhills. What CAN be significant is if your destination is more than 2500 feet higher than your starting point elevation. (Of course, the reverse is also true. My wife & I started in Snowshoe, WV with 200 miles "in the tank" and with 200 miles to drive home to Huntington, WV. We arrived home, 2500' lower MSL, with 120 miles still available {a 320 mile range!}.) I had to go to Frederick, MD (373 miles) in 2017 to buy my Bolt EV as NO dealers in WV were selling them. (We, now, have 2 dealers: Clarksburg & Hurricane.) I am sure you can find a much closer dealer in VA, and licensing is so much easier in a home state. Good luck in your search. EVs ARE the wave of the future, but your future in EVs may not start in 2019.
Thanks for the response!

I hadn't thought about the total elevation change on my commute. I knew I'd want to keep the hill start on since my house is pretty high up on a smaller mountain area, which Google Maps confirms. Total elevation from home to work is 650 ft lower (1,804 ft total increase and 2,454 ft total decrease it seems, most of the decrease in a short period starting from my house).

The closest dealer to me that seems to actively sell Bolts is in North Carolina (about 80 miles away). I figure I'll just have to make a trip sometime to test drive one. I can't seem to find any EV's around Roanoke for sale to even get a feel for driving one...

Do you take it to your local Chevy dealer? Just wondering if non-EV selling dealers give any flack having to do work on an EV/etc (I've had dealers give flack simply because I didn't buy from them...)
 

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@methorian : I'm in the Charlottesville area. We have one Chevy dealer that has a Bolt in stock once in awhile. When I put a pricing query in via TrueCar I heard from dealers in Orange (not too far) and Warrenton (farther).

I quickly realized the decent prices were up in the DC area and I ended up buying a Premier from Koons Chevrolet White Marsh ((MD).

My first and only test drive was actually @ Carmax. I had them transfer a Bolt LT to the local store and took it for a spin.
 

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@methorian : I'm in the Charlottesville area. We have one Chevy dealer that has a Bolt in stock once in awhile. When I put a pricing query in via TrueCar I heard from dealers in Orange (not too far) and Warrenton (farther).

I quickly realized the decent prices were up in the DC area and I ended up buying a Premier from Koons Chevrolet White Marsh ((MD).

My first and only test drive was actually @ Carmax. I had them transfer a Bolt LT to the local store and took it for a spin.
Carmax didn't mind pulling one in just to test drive? (Or did they hound you to purchase or anything?) I've never actually been to a Carmax. We don't have one in Roanoke, but there's one in Lynchburg I believe.

I've actually seen the better prices in Charlotte, which would be fine since we travel down there once in a while for IKEA and friends in the area (and a bit closer than going up past NoVA/etc). Modern Chevrolet in Winston-Salem seems to keep a few in stock, so I think I'll take a stroll down there once weekend to do a test drive.
 

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It was my first Carmax experience and was a pleasant one. No pressure from the salesperson at all. He followed up once with another suggested Bolt about a week later. I used a no cost transfer, so didn't cost me a dime.
 

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Do you take it to your local Chevy dealer? Just wondering if non-EV selling dealers give any flack having to do work on an EV/etc (I've had dealers give flack simply because I didn't buy from them...)
Most Chevy dealerships want (need?) to be "Bolt EV Certified". This means they have at least one service person who has undergone specific Bolt EV (not just Volt PHEV) training. At first, I needed to go to Columbus, OH (170 miles) to find one. Thank goodness I never needed any service. More recently, a dealer in Ashland, KY and now, one Hurricane, WV have that trained serviceman in house. Each of these dealers will ORDER a Bolt EV, but do not carry any in stock (on the lot) for test drives. Body work can be done at any body shop. Tire rotations can be done at any auto/tire service facility. I am guessing that any "non EV related" repairs (e.g. intermittent blind spot protection warning) can be done at any Chevy dealer, but that repairs specific to EVs (hardware and software) need that "certified" status.
 

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I recently purchased a program vehicle Bolt from a dealer in PA. Live in Pulaski, VA if anyone is looking for a local Bolt to test drive.
 

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I live in Charlottesville VA. I would agree with previous people. You recover energy (or at least some of it) on the downhill side. I suggest you play around with "abetterrouteplanner.com". I like plugshare much better but have found that abetterrouteplanner.com gives you SOC information at charge stations and at end of trips. It considers topography. I would try this from your home in Roanoke and place of work in Lynchburg. You may or may not need a Level 2 charger. I do not need one and I have had my 2018 Bolt for 18 months and 22,000 miles. Electrify America is doing some good work along I-81 and other interstates. They just need to improve reliability. Cities such as Richmond, and Charlottesville lack reliable Level 3 chargers. Be aware that range is greatly impacted by the use of passenger heat. I took a trip to Bedford this weekend and lost a bunch of range by keeping the temperature at 72 degrees.Plan on 200 miles of range when the temperatures are in the upper 20s and lower 30s. I have not noticed a great deal of degradation when using AC. I bought my Bolt in MD as the dealers there had the best deals.
 

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Were you at the EV event in downtown Roanoke on 09/21/19?


I talked myself hoarse for five hours. You can see the white roof of our Bolt, against the tan wall, behind the guy talking.


There is a Greenlots 100 amp DC fast charger a block or two from this event, but like most free Greenlots chargers, it is out of commission, and no longer listed on PlugShare.

Your commute would be a joke in the Bolt. Drive how you like...run the heat.

There were supposed to be two Bolts, but the other one was a no-show, though several of the folks walking around looking said they drive Bolts. Lots of Teslas, two older Leafs, two 2018s. a Prius Prime, and a Ford plugin hybrid. There were three electric assist bicycles, two were cargo bikes. There were three of those one-wheel Segway things brought by Tesla owners.

I charged to 100% the night before. I pulled out of the garage, in the dark, at 5 am sharp. I was running Google maps on my phone. Got on I-64, heading west, and set cruise control to the speed limit. Reset it each time Google showed the speed limit changing. Google said 2 hours 7 minutes and 143 miles. You weren't going to be allowed into the site after 8:30 am, so I didn't want to take any chances. I arrived at the Premier parking lot at 7:15 am. Not another car in sight. I checked the address again, and walked to the next corner. There was another Premier lot, and the event tents. I got back in the car and was at the event site at 7:30 am, spoke to a few event organizers, and walked a block to a breakfast diner I found on Google. It was great!

I was back at the event site at 8:30 am, and a lot more cars had arrived. Talked EVs for 5 hours total. I didn't drive away too many, hopefully. As cars were starting to leave, I went next door to grab a Thai chicken pita and a lemonade for the trip home. I headed back up I-81, 19.1 miles to the Brugh's Mill EA chargers, at exit 156.

I arrived at 1:55 pm with 23.5% SOC. I plugged in to the first charger, brought up the app, and hit charge. It failed to initiate the first try. I unplugged, and plugged in again. This time I did the hold-the-plug-up-and-in trick, while touching the phone screen. It worked perfectly, and charged in the low to mid 50s kW range.

I went into the store to use bathroom. By the time I came out, and ate half of my pita, I had added 13.2 kWh, 46% SOC, 14 1/2 minutes, $4.06. I wanted to check out the new chargers at the Walmart in Staunton, and this is actually quicker than hanging around at the same charger, once the charge starts to taper at about 50%.

I drove 67.7 miles to the Walmart, arriving about 3:15 pm, with 13.7% SOC. The EA app said the units are still throttled back...dang! The first charger I pulled up to has one 50 kW CHAdeMO plug, and one 150 kW CCS plug. It had the blue light bars lite, meaning it should be ready to use. The screen was energized, but not displaying anything. I figured I would try using the app anyway. Oddly, the machine numbers on the units, and those on the app, for this location, are wrong. They have them in reverse order! This was obvious because I was at the only unit with a CHAdeMO plug, and the numbers were sequential from this end of the row to the other, but they had entered them into the app backwards, or the stickers had been applied to the machines from the wrong end. Either way, it is sure to confuse users.

Anyway, I did the push-on-the-plug thing and touched the phone screen. It displayed the revolving arrow, and said initializing. The car started charging in the low 40 kW range, and the light bar on this side of the charger turned green, but the app continued to say initializing. The screen on the unit never showed anything. I ran into the Walmart to the bathroom, and came back to finish my pita. I shut the charge down at 3:50 pm, after about 35 minutes of charging, and headed for home with a 20 mile buffer. I never got any info from EA, nor a bill, so I guess it was free.

Arrived home at 4:54 pm at 14.5% SOC.

290.1 miles, 75.3 kWh used, 3.85 mi/kWh
 
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