Tetondoc
Posts: 25
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2017 4:08 pm

Bolt Winter Range and Driving Experience

Fri Dec 01, 2017 11:07 pm

I’ve now got enough winter driving experience with my Bolt EV that I thought I would post a review and share my experiences.

A bit about me. I live in a mountain resort town. I’ve put around 6000 miles on my Bolt in the first 5 months of ownership. My primary mission is to drive to and from work, and to and from the ski resort. I drive about 20-30 miles most days. At least once/week I do a 70+ mile round trip over a mountain pass. My longest road trip was about 200 miles without charging. I haven’t hit 300 miles on a charge yet but I’ve been close. I have a heated garage with a 220V charging station. The closest Chevy Bolt service center is around 250 miles away, a trip I haven’t had to make yet.

SUMMER: I was averaging around 250 miles/charge in the summer months with ambient temps around 70 degrees F. This is a mix of town, rural highway and mountain driving. I don’t use AC much in the summer, preferring to use just the fan or roll down the windows. I “drive it like you own it” and don’t hyper-mile, but I do use one pedal driving in “low” mode at all times. During the summer, I was charging at home every 4-5 days and rarely used public charging stations, although I do have access to them.

WINTER: I live in a mountain resort town and I now have about 1000 miles in winter conditions which include mix of dry and snowy/icy roads, including driving a mountain pass in icy conditions. The ambient temps so far this winter have been between 20-30 degrees F. I’ve only had one day below 20 degrees. It appears that “battery conditioning” kicks on right around 20 degrees. I have only seen a couple of days with battery conditioning so far.

I made three big changes within the first week or two of winter that have impacted my driving range. 1) I put on good winter tires. I chose Toyo Celsius. This is a 4-season tire that is “snow” rated. They are not quite as good on snow as a dedicated snow tire like the Blizzaks, but I think they are about 90% as good on snow and better on dry or wet roads. I’m planning to run them year-round even if they don’t last as long as a 3-season tire would. They are significantly better than the factory tires on dry or wet roads, and DRAMATICALLY better than the factory tires on snow or ice. I would NOT recommend driving on snowy or icy roads with the factory tires. 2) I put on roof crossbars and a ski rack. I went with the Yakima aero bars and am very happy with them. 3) I started using heat. I like to set the cabin heat around 75 degrees and just let it do its thing. No reason to be cold in winter! I also use preconditioning any time the car has been sitting outside in the cold to get the cabin warm and melt the ice on the windshield.

So what is the cumulative impact of these changes and colder temps on my mileage? I’m now seeing a range estimate on the GOM of 160-170 miles per charge, which is around 2.8 miles/kWh. Am I disappointed by this range? In a word... NO. I knew that there would be a significant impact on range during the winter. I like to be comfortable when I’m driving, so I use the heat liberally and precondition the car to warm it up before I get in. I use about 25% of each charge on heating, and the rest on driving. 170 miles of range is fine with me in the winter for 99% of my driving. Basically I just charge every 3-4 days instead of every 4-5. No big deal as far as I’m concerned.

How does the Bolt handle on snowy roads? Quite well actually. The CG is low and centered between the wheels. With good snow tires, acceleration is similar to most other front wheel drive cars. Would I prefer an all wheel drive model of the Bolt or a similar car? Sure, and most likely that will be my next car in a few years. But for now, I’m very happy with the Bolt. The clearance is adequate and quite a bit better than my prior car, a Volt. One pleasant surprise is how well the regenerative braking works on snowy and icy roads. Regenerative braking seems to be similar to gentle braking. Traction control seems to function quite well with regenerative braking and prevents the wheels from locking up. And I think the driving style of using primarily regenerative braking is good training for the driver for snowy and icy conditions. Brakes and ABS work well if you need to stop faster.

Oh... and 6000 miles and I just did my first preventative maintenance. I added windshield washer fluid! Nice to NEVER stop at the gas station anymore.

Overall, I’m delighted with my Bolt and pleased with the winter performance so far.

SeanNelson
Posts: 1462
Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2016 2:43 am
Location: Vancouver, BC

Re: Bolt Winter Range and Driving Experience

Sat Dec 02, 2017 6:42 am

Nice report, thanks!

I agree - a nice toasty cabin is great in the cool weather and I like how quickly the Bolt puts out the BTUs. Reduced range is only a concern if it prevents you from making a trip or requires you to get an enroute charge that you wouldn't otherwise need. In most cases that's not an issue, so why scrimp on the heat?

randW
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2017 1:19 pm

Re: Bolt Winter Range and Driving Experience

Sat Dec 02, 2017 3:20 pm

Members on another Bolt forum mention preconditioning as a way to heat the car that has less impact on battery levels. Could someone remind me what this is?

PackardV8
Posts: 129
Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2017 2:39 pm

Re: Bolt Winter Range and Driving Experience

Sat Dec 02, 2017 3:40 pm

randW wrote:Members on another Bolt forum mention preconditioning as a way to heat the car that has less impact on battery levels. Could someone remind me what this is?


While plugged into a Level 2 charger? Using grid energy to precondition and/or warm the interior means no range is removed from the battery.

jack vines
Last edited by PackardV8 on Sat Dec 02, 2017 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
My vehicles
2017 Bolt Premier Cajun Red
2011 Saab 9-4X
2005 Saab 9-5
1998 Saab 9000 Aero
2004 Ford F250 6.0 Turbo Diesel
1963 Studebaker Avanti
1956 Studebaker Hawk custom with a supercharged Packard V8
1955 Studebaker custom pickup with a Packard V8

WetEV
Moderator
Posts: 396
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2016 1:26 pm
Location: Near Seattle

Re: Bolt Winter Range and Driving Experience

Sat Dec 02, 2017 3:41 pm

randW wrote:Members on another Bolt forum mention preconditioning as a way to heat the car that has less impact on battery levels. Could someone remind me what this is?


While still plugged in, have the climate system turned on. Timer, app, web. Warm up the cabin, melt the ice on the windshield and windows, all on shore power.

Ten or twenty minutes later, get in the car and leave.
#49 on the LEAF 100 mile club.
Most everything around here is wet during the rainy season. And the rainy season is long.
2012 Leaf SL Red
2014 Leaf SL Red
Can't sit in a Bolt seat, hoping for better soon.
Or perhaps a Buick version? Buick Electra 225???

LeftieBiker
Posts: 793
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:13 am

Re: Bolt Winter Range and Driving Experience

Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:12 pm

WetEV wrote:
randW wrote:Members on another Bolt forum mention preconditioning as a way to heat the car that has less impact on battery levels. Could someone remind me what this is?


While still plugged in, have the climate system turned on. Timer, app, web. Warm up the cabin, melt the ice on the windshield and windows, all on shore power.

Ten or twenty minutes later, get in the car and leave.


Just remember that this won't work well if you are charging with 120 volts, as the current drawn from the pack will greatly exceed the current entering it from the onboard charger.
2018 Nissan Leaf SL with Pro Pilot

2009 Vectrix VX-1 with 18 Leaf modules.

Tetondoc
Posts: 25
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2017 4:08 pm

Re: Bolt Winter Range and Driving Experience

Sat Dec 02, 2017 9:50 pm

randW wrote:Members on another Bolt forum mention preconditioning as a way to heat the car that has less impact on battery levels. Could someone remind me what this is?


There are actually two different types of “conditioning” with the Bolt, which is where most of the confusion comes from.

PRECONDITIONING is accessed through the MyChevrolet app or the “remote start” button on the keyfob. Preconditioning will heat or cool the cabin for 10 minutes before you get into the car. Preconditioning is totally manual, the car will not “start” itself. But after 10 minutes it will turn itself back off. As far as I can tell it doesn’t do ANYTHING to the battery, just warms or cools the cabin. If you are plugged into a charger when you precondition it will use the electricity from the power cord rather than the battery to precondition.

BATTERY CONDITIONING is totally different. Battery conditioning is totally automatic, you have no manual control over it. If temps are too cool or too warm for the battery, the Bolt uses a glycol system to heat or cool the battery. As I mentioned in my earlier post, battery conditioning in cold temps seems to come on right around 20 degrees farenheit, not positive yet of the exact temp. Once again if you are plugged in to a charging cord the Bolt will use shore-power for battery conditioning rather than the battery.

Hope that makes sense.

GetOffYourGas
Posts: 1159
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2015 5:25 pm
Location: Syracuse, NY

Re: Bolt Winter Range and Driving Experience

Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:27 am

Tetondoc wrote:As I mentioned in my earlier post, battery conditioning in cold temps seems to come on right around 20 degrees farenheit, not positive yet of the exact temp.


It's actually much higher than 20F. I have had it come on when the lowest overnight OAT was only down to 30F. The battery has a lot of thermal mass, so it may have even been warmer than 30. If I had to guess what the temperature is, I would say freezing (32).
~Brian

EV Fleet:
2011 Torqeedo Travel 1003 electric outboard on a 22' sailboat
2012 Leaf SV (traded for Bolt)
2015 C-Max Energi (302A package)
2017 Bolt Premier

SeanNelson
Posts: 1462
Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2016 2:43 am
Location: Vancouver, BC

Re: Bolt Winter Range and Driving Experience

Mon Dec 04, 2017 2:35 pm

GetOffYourGas wrote:
Tetondoc wrote:As I mentioned in my earlier post, battery conditioning in cold temps seems to come on right around 20 degrees farenheit, not positive yet of the exact temp.
It's actually much higher than 20F. I have had it come on when the lowest overnight OAT was only down to 30F. The battery has a lot of thermal mass, so it may have even been warmer than 30. If I had to guess what the temperature is, I would say freezing (32).

Yeah, I've had a small amount of battery conditioning come on when it was right around the freezing point as well.

LeftieBiker
Posts: 793
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:13 am

Re: Bolt Winter Range and Driving Experience

Mon Dec 04, 2017 6:27 pm

It would be odd if the TMS activation were determined by ambient air temp. It's the pack temp that matters to the car, and so it should be the pack temp that determines when the TMS comes on...
2018 Nissan Leaf SL with Pro Pilot

2009 Vectrix VX-1 with 18 Leaf modules.

Return to “General / Main Chevy Bolt Owners Forum”