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***I want to start off this post by saying that this whole issue was created by owner oversight/plain bad trip planning. The Bolt itself performed exactly like it was supposed to.***

This weekend my family took a trip to the Philly area to go to a Lego Brickfest Live event (tip: don’t buy the weekend pass if you ever plan to go to one of these things, a 1 day pass is more than enough…unless you are a Lego fanatic that just can’t get enough). When looking up the hotel we were staying at (at least I thought it was the hotel we were staying at….more on that later), there was 1 L2 station along with a couple of Tesla destination charging stations at the hotel, according to Plugshare. In addition, I was under the belief that there was also a couple of fast charging stations in the area we would be in during the weekend (also according to Plugshare).

For the route I planned, it was 125 miles one way from central MD to Philly, and combined with local driving, I would need to charge at some point during the trip. As I thought charging would not be an issue, I actually departed from home with only about a ~85% charge (this was mistake #1 ). GOM stated I had 233 miles of range (I knew that was over-enthusiastic due to the fact that number was achieved mainly through local driving). During the drive up to Philly, it was raining pretty much the whole way, and I also had to use the defroster, so both of those factors ate up some range (along with mainly highway driving of 60-70 mph.

We arrived at the Brickfest location with about 60 miles of range displayed on the GOM. After the event , which was fun overall, especially for the kids, but a lot of the items being sold were overpriced compared to the normal brick and mortar stores. Most Legos I’ve ever seen in one place by far though!

After the event, we drove to our hotel, which was 10 miles away. After checking in to our room, we relaxed a little while trying to figure out dinner, it was then I realized that this hotel did not have any onsite charging stations! It turned out I had looked at the hotel I originally was going to book, but decided not to at the last minute. Both the original hotel and hotel we ended up booking were Hilton properties, and I had mixed them up. Doh!

But no problem! I had seen a handful of fast charging stations listed on Plugshare, so I could still just charge at one of those before leaving for home the next day, right? Eh, nope. While looking at Plugshare, I had inadvertently left the CHAdeMO setting on, so those stations were listed (mistake #2 ). It turned out all those DCFC stations in my area were CHAdeMO-only Blink stations! So no fast charging options, and no hotel L2 option. Not even a 120V outlet, after chatting with the hotel staff. Nearest CCS-compatible station is over 20 miles away, and even then it’s operational status is questionable. I was certainly in a pickle!

Mind you, the whole time I am humming the “Everything is Awesome!” Lego movie song in my head, and do not let my wife in on the fact I’m actually mini freaking out inside my head. The last thing I want is to give her an impression the Bolt is not suitable for a road trip. She then asks me “Hey, where is the nearest Lego store? Let’s go get some new Lego sets for the kids”. I look up the nearest Lego store and it’s at a mall about 10 miles away. Then I look at Plugshare and see there is actually a L2 station at that mall! It’s a Blink station though (****!), but Plugshare rating is 7.6, so it may actually be a working station.

After agreeing to get dinner and shop at the Lego store at that mall, we drive the 10 miles and I find the station (2 plugs total) empty. After downloading the Blink app (and noticing the 39 cents/kWh pricing…..bleh), I start the charge session. But the Bolt’s charging light indicator stays yellow. You gotta be kidding me. I restart the session a couple of times, but still no go. I then try the other station, and luckily I get it to start charging. Whew! GOM stated 37 miles of range when it started charging.

After chowing down on some Shake Shack and getting the Lego sets, we come back to the Bolt 2 hours later, and I see it has taken in 10.88 kWh of juice, and the GOM states I have 79 miles of range. This Blink station must have been a 6.6 kW/208V setup, so due to the limitations, the Bolt was likely not able to charge faster than 6 kW. I drive back to the hotel (carefully) and parked the Bolt for the night with 72 miles of range on the GOM.



I wake up the next day, still realizing I’m gonna need to find about 70 more miles of range to make the trip back home. But first, we head back to Brickfest after grabbing some breakfast to check out a couple of things we didn’t get to the day prior. 60 miles on the GOM when we get there. After Brickfest, the wife decides we should head back to the mall to grab lunch and do some shopping (and to get some much needed charge!).

When we arrive back at the same Blink station, I see a Porsche SUV plugged into one of the units. First time I’ve ever seen the Porsche SUV plugin (turns out it only has 14 miles of range). I plug into the other unit, and while we are gone, I get 20.56 kWh during the 3 hours, 40 minutes we are at the mall. GOM now says we have 133 miles of range, and since our drive is only 121 miles, we should be good to go!

I drive around the speed limit (55-60 mph) during most of the trip to try and preserve that 12 mile buffer, and by the time we are about 40 minutes from home, I’ve built that buffer up to 19 miles. That’s when I decide that we have enough to make it home comfortably, so I then up our speed to 65-70 mph the last 40 miles or so. We end up stopping at the local Whole Foods (GOM is now blinking “Low” by this point), and I find a Bolt is plugged into the only working station! Cool since it is my first Bolt sighting (besides my own) in the wild, but also not so cool because I wanted to “top off” my Bolt.



During the 5 miles drive back home, in propulsion power reduced mode and the Bolt’s GOM still blinking Low, I drive gingerly and make it back home on e-fumes. SOC% according to Torque Pro was 5.7% when I parked the Bolt and I got the GOM to tell me I had 5 miles of estimated range left. Plenty to spare!

So lessons learned during this trip:
#1 – ALWAYS start out with a 100% charge before any trip you will need to charge to get back home, even if you think you are in a charging station heaven at your destination
#2 – triple check that the place you think you are staying at is actually the hotel you are staying at
#3 – don’t be a [email protected] and leave the CHAdeMO filter on while checking DCFC stations on Plugshare
#4 – Check items 1-3 again

As I said in my opening, the Bolt itself performed just fine. I ended up averaging 4.1 kWh over 318 miles. Majority of the driving (260+ miles) was highway driving (probably averaged 60 mph). Definitely appreciate the Bolt’s 7.2 kW onboard charger (even if some stations can only put out 6 kW). If it had the ’17 Volt’s 3.6 kW unit, I would have been truly screwed!
 

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Thanks for that write up, it was seriously a nail biter as I was reading through it! Glad you were able to make it back home safely though, but even more glad that the wifey didn't get the wrong idea of the Bolt, well played ;)

Now... any pictures of the Lego :)
 

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SOC% according to Torque Pro was 5.7% when I parked the Bolt and I got the GOM to tell me I had 5 miles of estimated range left.
Glad you made it home!

These two numbers seem inconsistent. 5.7% * 60kwh * 4.1mpk ~ 14 miles, not 5 miles, which is a pretty significant difference if you happen to be, say, 12 miles from home...

How much range do you think you really had left? Perhaps next time you would be good enough to drive to empty and let us know for sure.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Glad you made it home!

These two numbers seem inconsistent. 5.7% * 60kwh * 4.1mpk ~ 14 miles, not 5 miles, which is a pretty significant difference if you happen to be, say, 12 miles from home...

How much range do you think you really had left? Perhaps next time you would be good enough to drive to empty and let us know for sure.
I have a feeling the SOC% listed in the Torque Pro PID I had loaded is actually the raw SOC. Assuming the 5 miles remaining estimate, that is roughly 1 kWh of charge based off my recent driving (4.1 miles/kWh).

1/65 kWh (what I think the Bolt's overall capacity size is) = 1.5%, which means if I had used that remaining 1 kWh of usable capacity, the SOC% would have been down to around 4%.

Assuming a 4% buffer top and bottom, that gives a total capacity of ~65 kWh.
 

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^ A true cautionary tale... maybe it should be made into a sticky?

At this time with the poor charging infrastructure (outside of CA) I don't consider the Bolt a good road trip vehicle if the road trip involves any required charging at unknown locations.
 

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^ A true cautionary tale... maybe it should be made into a sticky?

At this time with the poor charging infrastructure (outside of CA) I don't consider the Bolt a good road trip vehicle if the road trip involves any required charging at unknown locations.
If that Blink charger I used was not available, I could have still found a way home, but it would have been much less pleasant (especially with the wife most likely yapping!). :eek:
 

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^ you won't hear if you close the windows when she's out back pushing :laugh:
 

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Thanks for the post. I must admit I did laugh a little a few times (singing everything is awesome in my head - haha, I feel your pain there). But this post brings up several good points which you stated at the end of your story. Another point to add/suggest is, if Tesla can have an adaptor to use "our" chargers, why are we not able to create an adaptor that can be used on Chademo to CCS DCFC, or to be able to use their Tesla charger system. The number of times I see a Tesla charger in a L2 charger when a block over are 6 Tesla chargers completely empty is so very annoying. It's just a thought/opinion.
 

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Another point that comes to mind....
When on vacation- we like to cram in as many activities as possible each day. So, while people like to say things like- "no problem, stop in at the local mall for 3-4hrs and recharge..." that's the last thing I'd want to do on vacation- wast precious time at a mall waiting for a recharge. It's different if you're at an all day destination like Hershey Park, Six Flags, etc... but wasting hours at a restaurant, mall or Whole Foods while on vacation waiting for a recharge is counter-productive.
 

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I have a feeling the SOC% listed in the Torque Pro PID I had loaded is actually the raw SOC. Assuming the 5 miles remaining estimate, that is roughly 1 kWh of charge based off my recent driving (4.1 miles/kWh).

1/65 kWh (what I think the Bolt's overall capacity size is) = 1.5%, which means if I had used that remaining 1 kWh of usable capacity, the SOC% would have been down to around 4%.

Assuming a 4% buffer top and bottom, that gives a total capacity of ~65 kWh.
So you're saying you think you really did have only about 5 miles of range left. Please correct if I misunderstood.

My guess would be that the GOM is conservative at low range levels. No hard evidence at all, but this would be consistent with what GM does with fuel gauges on its other vehicles - when the needle reaches 'E', you still have a gallon or two of gas left in the tank. I will not be testing my theory, at least not on purpose, but I would have done it if I had gotten down to 5mi as you did. Were you not curious?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I have a feeling the SOC% listed in the Torque Pro PID I had loaded is actually the raw SOC. Assuming the 5 miles remaining estimate, that is roughly 1 kWh of charge based off my recent driving (4.1 miles/kWh).

1/65 kWh (what I think the Bolt's overall capacity size is) = 1.5%, which means if I had used that remaining 1 kWh of usable capacity, the SOC% would have been down to around 4%.

Assuming a 4% buffer top and bottom, that gives a total capacity of ~65 kWh.
So you're saying you think you really did have only about 5 miles of range left. Please correct if I misunderstood.

My guess would be that the GOM is conservative at low range levels. No hard evidence at all, but this would be consistent with what GM does with fuel gauges on its other vehicles - when the needle reaches 'E', you still have a gallon or two of gas left in the tank. I will not be testing my theory, at least not on purpose, but I would have done it if I had gotten down to 5mi as you did. Were you not curious?
Here's the GOM reading after I got home.
Usually it just says "LOW" once it gets down below 10%, but if you turn off the car, get out, then get back in without turning it on, the actual range reading will display.
 

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Just seen news about Fiskers new product, hopefully that means down the road they'll have a compact with better range. Sometimes i like to think that car makers need rivals to starting showing their best.
 

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Here's the GOM reading after I got home.
Usually it just says "LOW" once it gets down below 10%, but if you turn off the car, get out, then get back in without turning it on, the actual range reading will display.
I was not doubting that you saw a 5 mile estimate - I believed you!

I'm questioning whether the car is being honest with the 5 mile estimate. I suspect it is not honest - just like my Lexus's fuel gauge is lying when it says 'Empty' while it really has two gallons left in the tank. The lie is for my own good, no doubt, but it is still helpful to know what the truth is.
 

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***I want to start off this post by saying that this whole issue was created by owner oversight/plain bad trip planning. The Bolt itself performed exactly like it was supposed to.***

This weekend my family took a trip to the Philly area to go to {...}

Thanks for the post - great write-up!

Your post reminds me a lot of the diving stories we'd share (I'm a SCUBA diver) - the idea being that others will hopefully learn from our silly mistake(s).

Hopefully, 18 months or so from now it won't be such a hassle to take road trips with the Bolt. Hopefully the first round of VW's "highway fast chargers" will be in place, and whoever is responsible for placing them will put them in "the most barren of EV deserts" along well-travelled routes.

But thanx again for the story - we all learn from these types of mea culpas.
 

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Dear bro1999, thanks for your tale - this certainly has me thinking about how to plan my trips! Glad you made it back ok. I just emailed my town electric vehicle committee to volunteer/support more rapid charging facilities in our town.
 

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Had a good chuckle reading about your charging woes. Best hope your wife doesn't read this thread and write the Bolt off as a road trip car. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #19

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My first trip was coming home from the west coast of Florida to the east coast. The trip
was 168 miles and by the time all the paperwork was signed the Bolt had 189 miles of
estimated range.....:nerd:
I even planned a stop at a DC charger mid way....... well..... wrong plug configuration.

Bottom line? I still had 34 miles on the meter when I pulled into the driveway! That
was doing 65 all the way & running the AC..... pretty darn good!
 
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