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2021 Bolt LT
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have owned my Bolt EV for about 13 months now. The first few weeks I used the charger that came with the car (a level 1 charger). This charger is pretty dumb and I couldn't get much information about the charging process. However, at the end of March of last year I installed my level 2 charger which is a JuiceBox 32 and since then I have kept fairly good track of my usage. So this posting is about the year from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.

The record is not perfect. The biggest issue is that when I go to Galveston I use the level 1 charger. There may be as many as 10 charges that are not accounted for (mostly from 50% to 100%). There were also some charges at my mother-in-law's house (probably 3) and at my parents house (one charge). So in the year there are about 14 charges of various sizes. My rough calculations say I am missing about 500 kWh over the course of the year. This could be as much as 5% and I am going to ignore it. So, keep that in mind when reading this.

I drive a lot more than most people. In the 12 months under discussion I drove 33,694 miles.

Lets start with a couple of charts:



This chart shows usage and cost. The left side shows kWh usage and the right shows cost. Blue is utility usage and red is DCFC usage. In September our electricity provider raised their rates which causes the difference in the blue cost to usage ratio.

Note that the big spike in May is real. I took a 1700 mile trip across country and charged mostly using DCFC. Then in June I had no fast charges at all. Starting in July my wife was living in Galveston and I was going to see her every two weeks.

I think this chart clearly shows the cost difference between home charging (blue) and DC charging (red). Most of my DC charging was at Electrify America; however, during the May trip I also used Charge Point and EvGo. I paid as much as 67 cents per kWh (and as little as zero). The average for May was 25 cents. By contrast the average for October was just 17 cents per kWh; there was two free charges and the rest were Electrify America.

Every month includes at least one free charge. Also it may be worth knowing that my utility cost is about 9.3 cents per kWh.

Here's another interesting chart:

So this shows the efficiency of the Bolt per month (blue) and the cost of electricity per mile (red). Note that in May efficiency stayed about the same but the cost per mile jumped way up. Again this shows the effect of using a lot of DCFC.

I find the slow climb of efficiency from April to October interesting. I think this is me learning how to drive the Bolt well and to use regen in a consistent manner. Finally after October you can see the effect of winter (Central Texas winters are weird; I think there was a cold snap in November and then it got really cold in February, but December and January were nice).

Now for the numbers: I burned through 10112 kWh of electricity. Getting an average of 3.7 miles per kWh. The total cost was $1189 or about 3.1 cents per mile.

My estimate is that if I had driven the same amount in my Miata (which gets about 28 miles per gallon on the interstate) it would have cost me $3900. So I saved about $2700 on the cost of fuel. There were no other maintenance costs on the Bolt. In the almost 34,000 miles the Miata would have needed about 7 oil changes for a cost of about $560. For a total savings of $3260.

I got a good deal on my Bolt and worked to keep the payments low; the savings in operating cost paid for over half of my car payments last year.

I am glad that my car does not pollute the air (at least not directly) and I am glad that the car is way fun to drive. But the economic case is hard to beat.

One final note: Battery degradation. I have run capacity tests three times. My confidence in the procedure is not that great. But I do see slight degradation of capacity. At 14000 miles I showed less than 1% (I would say not measurable with the technique). At 21000 I shows maybe 2% and the latest was at 37000 and was between 2% and 4%. I think this is about the expected pattern. I will continue to do tests from time to time and post the results when I have something I am confident in. When my battery is replaced I will monitor it more carefully.
 

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Yeesh, $80 oil changes... most I've paid might have been $22, but that was years ago. Never did synthetic though, so I know that can be very expensive. I do my own with synthetic and materials cost is probably $20.

Your degradation looks normal based on what others have shared here. Somewhere around 1% per 10k miles.
 

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Great presentation ! On the subject, direct, with charts even an idiot can understand.
And yes, I didn’t buy my Bolt EV for "green" motives, but for the "economics" of it. Especially in the case of those people who drive 100-150 miles a day, an EV is unbeatable and a Bolt EV is the king. The efficiency, the low maintenance cost and reliability + the purchase cost is what makes the Bolt EV shine.
 

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No such thing as a $20 oil change anymore, even doing it yourself that is pretty hard. $80 is about right for full synthetic at a quick change place.
Last one I did was my Volt, at my dealer, with a coupon, not sure what oil, was $50.
Don't miss that crap at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
No such thing as a $20 oil change anymore, even doing it yourself that is pretty hard. $80 is about right for full synthetic at a quick change place.
My regular mechanic stopped doing oil changes because of staffing problems. There's only one other place in town that does them. I just had the Miata done and it was $80 for synthetic.
 

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It's hard to get away from synthetics if you want to make your power train warranty rock solid. Some automakers even have "certified" oils. My VWs I'd go out and buy specifically vw 503 spec cause that's what the engineers said in the manual. Would feel pretty stupid if I blew my $8,000, high oil burning turbo motor'd engine because I decided to save a few bucks on an inferior product.

If I get over 4,000 lbs I'm not even gonna bother changing my own winter wheels anymore.

It's no longer a world where you own a car, the cars own you. Nothing I can do about it.
 

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Your results may vary.

FWIW, for the first couple of years the Bolt was for sale, the dealers were able to hold out for MSRP, so with the tax credit, ours was around $35,000 OTD. We knew we wanted an EV and did the math six ways from Sunday and payback was just never there.

The equivalent Honda Civic was available for from $5,000 - $10,000 less OTD. Being retired, driving only 5,000 miles a year, the difference in OTD would power and maintain the Honda past our natural driving lifetime.

We bought the Bolt anyway and have not regretted the additional cost.

jack vines
 

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9.3 cents per kWh is amazing. Mine in Massachusetts is about 3 times that and going up if the utility gets its way.
Our rate is 7.86 cents and has been for many years. I haven't heard anything but I expect it will be rising soon. Gas is ~$4.50.

When I bought the Bolt I calculated its fueling cost as being less than half of our Prius with gas price then being about $3, the Prius averaging 47mpg and the Bolt 3.3mpkWh (~2.4 vs 6.4 cents per mile). When we go on trips, and charge at EA, it's ~ 10 cents depending on how much you use given the monthly fee. In reality though, like Gene, we've gotten quite a bit of free or cheaper level 2 power on trips and three times we've gotten free charges at EA, so with these gas prices, fueling costs is about the same or even less for the Bolt, even on trips
Your results may vary.

FWIW, for the first couple of years the Bolt was for sale, the dealers were able to hold out for MSRP, so with the tax credit, ours was around $35,000 OTD. We knew we wanted an EV and did the math six ways from Sunday and payback was just never there.

The equivalent Honda Civic was available for from $5,000 - $10,000 less OTD. Being retired, driving only 5,000 miles a year, the difference in OTD would power and maintain the Honda past our natural driving lifetime.

We bought the Bolt anyway and have not regretted the additional cost.

jack vines
The more you drive, the more the fuel and oil change savings impact on your calculations relative to financing. Also as you drive more, the overall cost rises and rises in importance. For many years my wife and I drove more than 60,000 miles every year between the two of us and we had to pay close attention to vehicle operating costs as well as financing.
.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I didn’t buy my Bolt EV for "green" motives, but for the "economics" of it.
I bought mine for both reasons. I think global warming is the biggest issue of our time and I am pessimistic about a solution happening.

I also feel that my driving habits contribute to it unfairly. So I really am happy to have relieved myself of some of that burden.

I will retire this year but I will still work half time and my wife will still live 250 miles away from home. So even with the Bolt I will contribute more than my share of carbon.

But I am still very pleased with the economic results. And when I talk in casual conversation about the Bolt, I stress the economic advantages. I feel that, at least in Texas, I will get more converts with that approach.

Your results may vary.
That's very true. I knew my driving situation before I bought the Bolt. I am glad that folks like you choose electric for the environment not just the economics.

Of course we all get a fun ride. Drove it to Galveston today; had a lot of fun.
 

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Thanks for the research. Very helpful.

I also get a lot of free DCFC when I drive through New York State. I also plan stays at hotels which offer Free Level 2 charging, when I travel overnight.
 

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It's hard to get away from synthetics if you want to make your power train warranty rock solid. Some automakers even have "certified" oils. My VWs I'd go out and buy specifically vw 503 spec cause that's what the engineers said in the manual. Would feel pretty stupid if I blew my $8,000, high oil burning turbo motor'd engine because I decided to save a few bucks on an inferior product.

If I get over 4,000 lbs I'm not even gonna bother changing my own winter wheels anymore.

It's no longer a world where you own a car, the cars own you. Nothing I can do about it.
VW is the only manufacturer I know that has issues with certain oils.

All other manufacturers allow conventional motor oil that meets whatever certification specified. Nobody is going to lose a warranty claim because they used conventional oil rather than synthetic. Not only that, but a properly maintained engine should not fail within the warranty period, and if it does, indicates a likely defect in manufacturing.
 

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2021 Bolt LT Cayenne Orange Metallic
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VW is the only manufacturer I know that has issues with certain oils.

All other manufacturers allow conventional motor oil that meets whatever certification specified.
I believe GM specifies Dexos approved oil on 2011 and newer vehicles. At a minimum they are semi synthetic too. I've never seen or heard of a conventional oil that was Dexos approved. The OLM is likely calibrated on the assumption that Dexos is being used.

I've always used Dexos approved Mobil 1 in my 2011 Cruze, and still do my own changes as I have for nearly 50 years. My late Volt only had two oil changes, both done by the dealer, since they were "complimentary". I expect they used Dexos oil too.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act may protect one from denial of warranty claims if a failure occurs and Dexos wasn't being used. However, it may be a hassle, easily avoided by spending the marginal extra cost of approved Dexos oil.
 

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I use synthetic too since as you say, the marginal cost isn't much. I buy it in bulk when on super sale; usually Mobile 1, but I'll use any synthetic. Since I only change once per year, I like an oil that maintains its properties for longer.

I used to send in oil samples for analysis to Blackstone, just because I was curious and I wanted to provide a datapoint for curious internet lurkers. They always said I could put more miles on the oil, even at 13,000 miles between changes.
 

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I use synthetic too since as you say, the marginal cost isn't much. I buy it in bulk when on super sale; usually Mobile 1, but I'll use any synthetic. Since I only change once per year, I like an oil that maintains its properties for longer.

I used to send in oil samples for analysis to Blackstone, just because I was curious and I wanted to provide a datapoint for curious internet lurkers. They always said I could put more miles on the oil, even at 13,000 miles between changes.
I've read results of people like yourself that have sent in samples. Mostly on "Bob is the Oil Guy", and agree, once per year is fine on synthetic. That's about what the OLM on my Cruze indicates too.

I've probably been using Mobil 1 for about 40 years. I've never had an oil related failure. The Cruze is the last ICE vehicle I'll ever own though, so the days of buying Mobil 1 are numbered.
 
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Yeah, I think my pure ICE days are over. At minimum, I'm going to want a plug-in hybrid.

There's a freeze on vehicle replacements at my company, and the Mazda CX-5 would normally be up for replacement being 4 years old. Supposedly there is a major change to the menu due this summer with an emphasis on hybrids and EVs. Will be interesting to see what's offered.

The company pays for all fuel though, so there's some disincentive to go EV since they don't reimburse any electricity. However, they do offer a 1-time $2k reimbursement for EVSE installation.
 
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