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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
last weekend I took a road trip with my Bolt. We need to visit college campuses with my son (Cal Poly SLO being one I wanted my son to see). So I took the opportunity for a father son trip and let my son do all the driving since we're still working on his license.

I can report the Bolt did awesome as well as my son who is now much more experienced at two lane hwy. driving having much practice on HWY 101 south/north for the trip.

Being an experienced EV road tripper I did a little planning and found charging options to be acceptable for the trip. The 230'ish mile range of the Bolt makes the 192 mile trip almost a no brainer but, none the less we charged the car while going south, and had to charge the car coming back north (more on this later in the post).

Having done the trip now I have 100% confidence I could've done the southbound leg on a single 100% charge. But none the less I stopped and charged along the way to give us buffer.

Plug-share shows there to be 3-5 DC Fast Chargers on 101 south on the way to San Luis Obispo - Gilroy, Salinas x 2, King City, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach. For planning purposes I only pay attention to fast chargers and there are more L2 chargers but it's unlikely we would need them.

We started the trip at 100%, and stopped in Gilroy to charge and grab lunch at In/Out - In/out was sufficiently busy that we regained the 10% we lost and started from Gilroy at 100% again - from there the trip was a single shot to the Marsh Street garage - where there are 4 L2 chargers - we arrived at the garage with 30% battery, and after 2 hours of a an early dinner and strolling downtown SLO came back to 40% battery and a $1 parking charge - 1st hour free, 2nd hour $1.00. From there it was a simple drive with no range problems to our Hotel in Pismo beach (less than 15 miles from the garage). I had pre-selected one of the many hotels in Pismo to offer included charging overnight. The valet happily parked the car, and was familiar with charging EV's and the car charged over night to 100% and was full by 12:30 am based on text message sent from onstar.

We woke up the next day, breakfast, and off to the campus for a morning visit. We parked on campus in Parking lot H where there are 8 Charge point EV chargers - and did a nice 2-3 hour stroll of the campus (the boy was impressed which makes me happy).

Again we returned to a 100% full car and proceeded to drive north back to home. The 100% charge from the Cal Poly campus should've make the 185 mile trip a no brainer on the way back. But this is where the cautionary tale kicks in.

I have mentioned before on this and other EV boards, BEWARE THE HEAD WIND. Head winds are evil in the EV world and can foil the best laid plans. After 40 mph aero-drag has a component squared contribution to load/drag - and speed is the killer after 40 mph. If you're doing a reasonable 65-75 mph pace on 101 north into a 10-15 mph headwind = it's like driving 80-95 miles per hour - which completely tanks the range.

We were having no problems until we were on 101 north of Paso Robles - where according to the flags I saw on the side the road and the activity in the bushes and trees we were driving into a serious head wind - it didn't take long for the Bolt's normal 3.5-5 mile/kwh range to drop below 3 and we started chewing up the range meter like no one's business. Normally the solution would be to drop the speed, and while that was an option - 101 was busy and the pace is at least 65 mph if you're going to avoid being an obstacle to traffic (we would've needed to drop into the low 50 mph range and I felt that wouldn't be safe given traffic). Being aware of the dangers of head winds my son and I watched the range and we had our plans in place.

We were never in any real danger - we had the fast charger in King City, Salinas, Gilroy - so we were going to make it home, the question was - Will we need to stop?

Ultimately we deviated to Watsonville where I knew there was a fast charger (evGo) and we could stop at the Nob Hill and get some food/restroom break while we charged. We wouldn't need to stop for long - a 10 min stop in Watson Ville would give us more than enough range to get home via 152 into south San Jose. We made the decision primarily based on a desire to avoid the congestion that is common on weekend afternoons between Salinas and Gilroy - I decided to head north west from Salinas to Watsonville (not the most direct route to our home) to avoid 101 congestion and stop at a charger I knew was pleasant and reliable.

the charge took us from 25% to 75% at 42,000 watts for most of the charge session in about 30 minutes (more than enough to get home) - we only needed 35% from Watsonville to home via 152 a drive I have done many times and confident in the car's range.

The minute we got on 129 west the head winds relented and car returned to it's normal 3.5-5 miles kWh performance, but the damage to the overall range had been done by the 100 mile run from Paso Robles to Salinas with the head winds - oh the head winds.

Would've we made it with out charging? Probably - I'm still fairly convinced we could've made it but it would've been single digit % that we arrived home with and it would've been a white knuckle ride - also as a new driver my son is not yet adept at hyper-miling and it would require extreme throttle/regen usage to squeeze every last electron out of the battery - and for sanity purposed I would've probably stopped in Gilroy for 5-10 min of fast charging just to relieve the tension. the primary reasons I didn't go to Gilroy were:

1. didn't want to park in congestion from Salinas to Gilroy with a depleted battery - the driving wouldn't of run the battery down too much, but AC and stop/go would've not been helpful to our overall range
2. didn't want to eat at In/Out two days in a row
3. if I have to park at a charger Watsonville which is closer to the ocean is a nice environment to hang out in on a hot day (and the nob hill hot food bar is pretty good for. snack)
4. there are better place to hang out for 1/2 hour than the Gilroy outlet mall.

Overall the Bolt performed well and the choice of no less than 5 fast chargers on the way made the trip far less stressful, so there was never any real concern. But I was trying to avoid the 10-30 minute stop and just get home. Had there not been fast chargers the L2's being so slow really wouldn't have helped with out adding significant time to the overall trip, if I was in that situation (rapid range dropping due to environmental conditions) I would've had to reduce speed to keep the range where we needed it to be range wise.

For what it's worth - the range problem showed up pretty clearly in the dash in that I noticed on the way down at 65-70 mph you can pretty easily keep the Bolt in the 12-18 kw range for the instant power metric on the right side of the speedometer - when we were encountering the head windows the KW's were well above 20 - 22-28 (sometimes low 30's) - this was even when we were only doing 60 - clearly the head wind was taking it's toll - having the car above 20'ish KW while cruising started to show up in the range meter as we dropped from our 3.5-5 miles/kwh to below 3 and bottomed out around 2 miles/kwh

Beware your range if your cruising is keeping you at or above 20 KW

Heads winds demand respect and are the bain of EV range - this I knew, but I thought I would share a trip report with you all.

Through out the trip an iPad with Plug-share installed on it is a wonderful tool for the road warrior EV driver - it gives you the ability to plan and review choices for EV charging and allowed us to stay on top of the trip and know our options for charging. No guess work and confidence to know we could get the car charged should we need it. if not a new iPad a low end cheap used iPad from eBay that stays in the car with Plug-share installed on it is a must have tool for any distance driving in any EV car - and the iPad can be wifi only cause it can use the Bolt's hotspot to get the internet data it needs to plan your trip.
 

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Great Post!

I am going to travel from Northern Illinois to Madison, Wisconsin to Stevens Point, Wisconsin. About 200 miles one way with very limited options for charging except at the destinations. I'll need to watch those headwinds.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
David, don't you have a Tesla Model S? Wouldn't that have been better for a trip like this?
I do and yes it would have been better (autopilot alone, Superchargers and a bigger battery, and front seats that don't suck) but..

1. I wanted to try road tripping in the Bolt
2. I'm leasing the Bolt so I consider the miles use them or lose them - might as well put the miles on the Bolt since they are already paid for
3. My son (learner's permit) drove and the Bolt being smaller and an easier car to drive/park he is more comfortable in the Bolt - the model S is a lot of car for a new driver bigger faster and more complex...
4. The Bolt is the "kids car" and I want him to have as much seat time in it as possible since he will be doing his drivers test in the Bolt. I have two other drivers for a total of 3 coming online in the next 9 months so the Bolt is the car they will all have access to for their transportation needs.

The Bolt continues to impress me on so many levels I love all my EV's -
 

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last weekend I took a road trip with my Bolt. We need to visit college campuses with my son (Cal Poly SLO being one I wanted my son to see). So I took the opportunity for a father son trip and let my son do all the driving since we're still working on his license.

I can report the Bolt did awesome as well as my son who is now much more experienced at two lane hwy. driving having much practice on HWY 101 south/north for the trip.

Being an experienced EV road tripper I did a little planning and found charging options to be acceptable for the trip. The 230'ish mile range of the Bolt makes the 192 mile trip almost a no brainer but, none the less we charged the car while going south, and had to charge the car coming back north (more on this later in the post).

Having done the trip now I have 100% confidence I could've done the southbound leg on a single 100% charge. But none the less I stopped and charged along the way to give us buffer.

Plug-share shows there to be 3-5 DC Fast Chargers on 101 south on the way to San Luis Obispo - Gilroy, Salinas x 2, King City, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach. For planning purposes I only pay attention to fast chargers and there are more L2 chargers but it's unlikely we would need them.

We started the trip at 100%, and stopped in Gilroy to charge and grab lunch at In/Out - In/out was sufficiently busy that we regained the 10% we lost and started from Gilroy at 100% again - from there the trip was a single shot to the Marsh Street garage - where there are 4 L2 chargers - we arrived at the garage with 30% battery, and after 2 hours of a an early dinner and strolling downtown SLO came back to 40% battery and a $1 parking charge - 1st hour free, 2nd hour $1.00. From there it was a simple drive with no range problems to our Hotel in Pismo beach (less than 15 miles from the garage). I had pre-selected one of the many hotels in Pismo to offer included charging overnight. The valet happily parked the car, and was familiar with charging EV's and the car charged over night to 100% and was full by 12:30 am based on text message sent from onstar.

We woke up the next day, breakfast, and off to the campus for a morning visit. We parked on campus in Parking lot H where there are 8 Charge point EV chargers - and did a nice 2-3 hour stroll of the campus (the boy was impressed which makes me happy).

Again we returned to a 100% full car and proceeded to drive north back to home. The 100% charge from the Cal Poly campus should've make the 185 mile trip a no brainer on the way back. But this is where the cautionary tale kicks in.

I have mentioned before on this and other EV boards, BEWARE THE HEAD WIND. Head winds are evil in the EV world and can foil the best laid plans. After 40 mph aero-drag has a component squared contribution to load/drag - and speed is the killer after 40 mph. If you're doing a reasonable 65-75 mph pace on 101 north into a 10-15 mph headwind = it's like driving 80-95 miles per hour - which completely tanks the range.

We were having no problems until we were on 101 north of Paso Robles - where according to the flags I saw on the side the road and the activity in the bushes and trees we were driving into a serious head wind - it didn't take long for the Bolt's normal 3.5-5 mile/kwh range to drop below 3 and we started chewing up the range meter like no one's business. Normally the solution would be to drop the speed, and while that was an option - 101 was busy and the pace is at least 65 mph if you're going to avoid being an obstacle to traffic (we would've needed to drop into the low 50 mph range and I felt that wouldn't be safe given traffic). Being aware of the dangers of head winds my son and I watched the range and we had our plans in place.

We were never in any real danger - we had the fast charger in King City, Salinas, Gilroy - so we were going to make it home, the question was - Will we need to stop?

Ultimately we deviated to Watsonville where I knew there was a fast charger (evGo) and we could stop at the Nob Hill and get some food/restroom break while we charged. We wouldn't need to stop for long - a 10 min stop in Watson Ville would give us more than enough range to get home via 152 into south San Jose. We made the decision primarily based on a desire to avoid the congestion that is common on weekend afternoons between Salinas and Gilroy - I decided to head north west from Salinas to Watsonville (not the most direct route to our home) to avoid 101 congestion and stop at a charger I knew was pleasant and reliable.

the charge took us from 25% to 75% at 42,000 watts for most of the charge session in about 30 minutes (more than enough to get home) - we only needed 35% from Watsonville to home via 152 a drive I have done many times and confident in the car's range.

The minute we got on 129 west the head winds relented and car returned to it's normal 3.5-5 miles kWh performance, but the damage to the overall range had been done by the 100 mile run from Paso Robles to Salinas with the head winds - oh the head winds.

Would've we made it with out charging? Probably - I'm still fairly convinced we could've made it but it would've been single digit % that we arrived home with and it would've been a white knuckle ride - also as a new driver my son is not yet adept at hyper-miling and it would require extreme throttle/regen usage to squeeze every last electron out of the battery - and for sanity purposed I would've probably stopped in Gilroy for 5-10 min of fast charging just to relieve the tension. the primary reasons I didn't go to Gilroy were:

1. didn't want to park in congestion from Salinas to Gilroy with a depleted battery - the driving wouldn't of run the battery down too much, but AC and stop/go would've not been helpful to our overall range
2. didn't want to eat at In/Out two days in a row
3. if I have to park at a charger Watsonville which is closer to the ocean is a nice environment to hang out in on a hot day (and the nob hill hot food bar is pretty good for. snack)
4. there are better place to hang out for 1/2 hour than the Gilroy outlet mall.

Overall the Bolt performed well and the choice of no less than 5 fast chargers on the way made the trip far less stressful, so there was never any real concern. But I was trying to avoid the 10-30 minute stop and just get home. Had there not been fast chargers the L2's being so slow really wouldn't have helped with out adding significant time to the overall trip, if I was in that situation (rapid range dropping due to environmental conditions) I would've had to reduce speed to keep the range where we needed it to be range wise.

For what it's worth - the range problem showed up pretty clearly in the dash in that I noticed on the way down at 65-70 mph you can pretty easily keep the Bolt in the 12-18 kw range for the instant power metric on the right side of the speedometer - when we were encountering the head windows the KW's were well above 20 - 22-28 (sometimes low 30's) - this was even when we were only doing 60 - clearly the head wind was taking it's toll - having the car above 20'ish KW while cruising started to show up in the range meter as we dropped from our 3.5-5 miles/kwh to below 3 and bottomed out around 2 miles/kwh

Beware your range if your cruising is keeping you at or above 20 KW

Heads winds demand respect and are the bain of EV range - this I knew, but I thought I would share a trip report with you all.

Through out the trip an iPad with Plug-share installed on it is a wonderful tool for the road warrior EV driver - it gives you the ability to plan and review choices for EV charging and allowed us to stay on top of the trip and know our options for charging. No guess work and confidence to know we could get the car charged should we need it. if not a new iPad a low end cheap used iPad from eBay that stays in the car with Plug-share installed on it is a must have tool for any distance driving in any EV car - and the iPad can be wifi only cause it can use the Bolt's hotspot to get the internet data it needs to plan your trip.
Great summary David! I live in SLO and nice to hear the 101 has sufficient fast chargers along the way. A bit off topic but if you or your son have any questions about Cal Poly, feel free to PM me. I graduated two years ago and know the school, its environment, and the community pretty well.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Great summary David! I live in SLO and nice to hear the 101 has sufficient fast chargers along the way. A bit off topic but if you or your son have any questions about Cal Poly, feel free to PM me. I graduated two years ago and know the school, its environment, and the community pretty well.
great I'll remember that - I graduated from Cal Poly in 1990 and lived in the area as well - miss it greatly - it was a blast to visit with my son!!!
 

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Great drive review David! Maybe the next iteration of the Bolt will be more aerodynamic so head winds won't reduce the car's range that bad, but that's years down the road. Better to err on the side of caution with EVs, can't really top up in the middle of nowhere if it ever runs out of charge.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
aero improvements won't "fix" the head wind issue - aero drag co-efficient is the basic drag that everything builds on top of - while the car is moving you start with the drag co-efficient and then add the velocity components - the velocity drag has a speed squared component which is present regardless of the basic drag-co-efficient - so even though the Tesla Model S is more aerodynamic than the Bolt it suffers from the same head wind problem along with the Bolt

so all that can change for a "More aero-dynamic car" would be may be the point in the velocity curve where aero-drag overwhelms mechanical power consumption - so let's say it's 42 mph on the Bolt and maybe 48 mph on the Tesla - both car's suffer greatly as speed+head wind ramps up the aero-dynamic load on the car consuming more battery

I wrote a similar trip report for Interstate 5 with my Model S 2 or 3 years ago - for going from the grape vine to Harris ranch (one of the two original super charger locations) one week I did the north bound drive and was able to by-pass Harris ranch and charge in gilroy going north bound - and a couple weeks later, same car, same route, same driver, same road speed and I almost ran out of juice and barely was able to make it to harris ranch - the difference was a 15-20 mph head wind - it's just killed my range.

the only solution that I can see is:

driver slower
get bigger batteries so that we're not living on the edge
 
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