Our 2600 mile CA to OR Trip in our 2017 Bolt

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May 25, 2017
We started out our trip up to Salem, OR at noon from work in Thousand Oaks, CA with a 90% Battery. Our first leg of the trip was to Delano, CA (157 Miles), this one surprised us a little, the Grapevine is a steep and long mountain pass over 4000 feet high and 47 miles long, up one mountain and down another. We thought a stop in Bakersfield would be required, but were pleasantly surprised to make Delano with just under ¼ of a battery. We had been up on the Grapevine before and knew it took at least 30 miles of power to get up the first 2200 foot section and wasn’t quite expecting to get so much of that back up and down the mountains. Having done so well on the first leg, we were much more at ease. Our goal was to make Corning, CA by midnight.
The second leg of the trip was Delano, CA to Modesto, CA (171 Miles). But we didn’t quite charge up all the way in Delano and were not comfortable enough with the distance we had left, so we did a quick 30 minute stop in Atwater, CA (27 Miles to Modesto). Then we proceeded to Modesto and ate dinner while we waited, going back every 30 minutes to restart the charge on the annoying EVGO fast chargers (Total of 2 charges). The charger actually messed up with an error and we didn’t notice until 20 minutes later, so that wasted some time to start it over again. Always keep an eye on the chargers! They sometimes throw an error, maybe due to bad timing between the cars and the charging station computers.
The third leg of the trip took us to Williams, CA (140 Miles) where we stopped for a quick 30 minute charge at Carl’s Jr. (we left at 30 minutes because you get charged 4 cents per minute if you stay later), this one took us to our last stop for the night in Corning, CA (56 Miles). This was also our first ChargePoint 100 “fast charger” station at only 24KW. The Olive Pit in Corning, also has a ChargePoint 100 station, at only 24KW, it takes 2 to 2.5 hours to charge, but we didn’t mind, since we were staying the night. This is where the slow “Fast Chargers” of ChargePoint really put a damper on our trip. I set my alarm for 2:30 a.m. to pick up the car, but the charging station threw and error half way through, so I had to start it up again and go back at 7:30 a.m. after my shower (no per minute charge). Timing these slow “fast chargers” right, does save some time though.
We left at 9:00 a.m. in the morning with a full charge from the Olive Pit in Corning. We decided not to eat breakfast yet and go to another Carl’s Jr. ChargePoint 100 station in Redding, CA (50 Miles). Again, watch the charging station, it threw an error after 2 minutes and we had to start it again. It seemed to be a warm up issue on the charger! This was another long mountain trip through the Shasta area coming up to an elevation in Yreka (our next stop) of about 2500 feet, so we wanted to make sure we had a full battery to start. This is why we ate breakfast in Redding , combining a quick 30 minute charge and breakfast to save time.
Starting with a full battery, we stopped at our next ChargePoint 100 station, again at a Carl’s Jr. in Yreka, CA (100 miles). To our surprise, even through we gained almost 2500 feet in elevation and went up and down countless mountains, we arrived in Yreka with half a battery! This saved a lot of charging time, it “only” took 90 minutes to fill up at the 24KW ChargePoint 100 “fast charging” station. We again, wanted a full battery for the next leg of the trip to Roseburg, OR.
Starting out for Roseburg, OR (147 Miles), we now felt VERY comfortable going over lots of mountains. The mountains before the CA/OR boarder were next and then the Ashland Pass at over 4000 feet. We pulled in to another ChargePoint 100 “fast charger” at Fred Myer’s in Ashland with about 1/8th of a battery. Our average speed in California was between 75 and 78 and in Oregon, about 72 or 73. So we are by no means taking it easy! Sadly, this charge was going to take awhile, we waited almost 2 hours and then took off with about 85% in the battery. Our final leg of the tirp to Salem wasn’t that far away, so there was no sense in wasting even more time for the last 15% slow charge of the battery when we didn’t need it.
We arrived in Salem, OR (135 Miles) at our destination, the Red Lion Inn off of Market St. which had our first and only ChargePoint 200 50KW fast charging station! Unfortunately, it was also the most expensive station in the Western U.S. and perhaps the country! They charge almost triple the cost of electricity and 10 Cents per minute. But still, just a bit cheaper than gas. In contrast, places like Fred Meyer’s would only charge for the cost of the electricity, about a $5 to $6 charge from empty. The only thing better than that would be free :) We chose this hotel purposely, because it had a fast charger. We used it several times to go on 600 miles worth of mini trips to the Portland (Oregon) Zoo, Mt. Hood, Multnomah Falls and a few other places, including our Niece’s High School Graduation, which is why we were there in the first place. Any time we were low at the end of the day, we would fast charge it back to full either before we went to bed or in the morning, before going out for the day.
One issue we never encountered on the way up to Oregon, was we were never blocked from charging and every station worked (even though we had to restart a few charges due to charger errors). This was a bit of a surprise, considering many of these fast chargers only had one port! Some of this did change on our way back down though…
On the way back home, we started out around 9:45 a.m. and decided to skip the charger in Roseburg and stop at the Canyonville charger instead (160 Miles), since we have never been in the 7 Feathers Casino before. The Canyonville charger is once again a ChargePoint 100 24KW station, so we waited 2 hours for nearly a full charge 85%-90%. Once we started charging, we walked over to the 7 Feathers casino and checked it out (very short walk), got something to drink and sat down, then walked back.
Our next stop was Yreka again (120 miles), only this time a very funny guy and his son were already charging their 2017 Bolt when we got there, this was the first time we had to wait. We waited about 15 minutes while he gave us the strangest story of his adventures. It must be his first electric car because he was VERY paranoid about running out of power and had absolutely convinced himself that driving at only 61 MPH would save him more time than going 75 MPH and charging more. I did my best to tell him this really wasn’t true, he said his Miles per KW were something like 3.8 or 4.0 or something and ours was 3.6, so it obviously doesn’t pay to drive like a Grandma going to church on Sunday (apologies to all those Grandma’s out there for the use of the saying :) ). He was also so paranoid about running out of power or coming across a broken charger, that he was actually stopping every 50 miles or less when he came to another fast charger. Which once again is a bad idea, because the last 20% of the charge takes 4-6 times longer! It was time for lunch and we decided after charging for only 15 minutes ourselves, to skip this stop and go to Yaks for burgers in Dunsmuir, CA which also has a ChargePoint 100 24KW station (46 Miles), which is where the other guy had just come from, naturally… 
After charging for 90 minutes at Yaks (They were super busy, BTW Guy Fieri, if you read this, you really need to check out Yaks :) ). We left with enough power to get to our final destination of the night, back to Corning, CA (101 Miles). We arrived at Corning around 8:30 p.m, where I dropped off the car at the Olive Pit ChargePoint 100 station and picked it back up around 11:30 p.m. There are several hotels within just 1 or 2 blocks of the station, that is why I picked this as the stop.
The next morning we took off around 9:00 a.m. and made our first stop in Williams again at the Carl’s Jr. for a quick 30 minute top off (56 Miles). This allows us to make it to Modesto without stopping, however, we had plenty of power, so we skipped Modesto and went to Atwater instead (168 Miles). We knew from the previous quick top up there, that they had a Subway, which is where we wanted to eat our late lunch. This is also where we had our second charge block of the trip, there was a BMW charging at the EVGO station, which at this location, only has one combo charger and two Leaf chargers (ugg). Fortunately, he was almost done and we only had to wait about 5 minutes while he loaded his stuff from the store into the car. Here, we took a 90 minute (THREE 30 minute charges, again thanks EVGO :( ) because we were well under a quarter battery and we wanted to have plenty of power to stop at our last charging stop in Delano (141 Miles) or Bakersfield (33 more miles).
At Delano, we had just under a quarter battery and it would have been pushing it to make the stop in Bakersfield (another 33 miles), so we decided to stop in Delano anyway and do 3 more 30 minute EVGO charges (again thanks EVGO for making me run out every 30 minutes in the 107 degree heat to start the charger again!). From Delano, we didn’t stop until we got home in Oxnard (151 Miles). Once again going over the Grapevine and still had almost a quarter battery when we got home.
So there you have it, a 2600 mile trip in a 2017 Bolt EV with fast charging. Sure we did get a bit lucky not having been charge blocked much at all and all of the charging stations worked, but we certainly had fun not using any gas on our trip! The biggest thing to remember is, don’t wait for a full charge if you really don’t need it, the slower charging rate after 80% is just not worth the extra time, unless it saves you an extra stop! We can’t wait until ChargePoint upgrades their ChargePoint 100 stations in Southern Oregon and Northern California, to either the ChargePoint 200 50KW model or the next generation 300 model, this will cut our charge times by at least 3 or 4 hours per day. Also, ChargePoint and EVGO, if you read this… Put a fast charger in Lone Pine, CA and Needles, CA (Barstow, CA would be nice too). This is the only thing that prevents us from driving to Arizona or Mammoth, CA :) We have to use our 2016 Volt instead! While still fun, we just don’t like using gas… Note, see my other trip from Mammoth to Fresno over highway 120 in Yosemite in the 2016 Volt, 150 Electric miles on one charge and 1 gallon of gas for a 195 mile trip! Yes, your read correctly, 150 miles on one charge in the Volt! Started at 7,500 feet in Mammoth, a little gas to the top of Yosemite gate at 10,000 feet and coasting all the way down to Fresno at 300 feet :) Ok, one more gas spot from the entrance of Yosemite Valley 4500 feet to 6000 feet, then coasting all the way to Fresno.
stephmipar said:
We can’t wait until ChargePoint upgrades their ChargePoint 100 stations in Southern Oregon and Northern California, to either the ChargePoint 200 50KW model or the next generation 300 model, this will cut our charge times by at least 3 or 4 hours per day. Also, ChargePoint and EVGO, if you read this… Put a fast charger in Lone Pine, CA and Needles, CA (Barstow, CA would be nice too).

The map of approved (govt partial subsidy) DCFCs to be added in California : https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1VEJLK0-wcAhWV8Q0MirTLULd5mg&ll=37.8195735374153%2C-119.38891739999997&z=7
Thanks for the map update, looks pretty good, but I still don't see anything planned for Needles, CA. Barstow will allow us to get to Needles, but they only have regular level 2 chargers there, so it will be hard to go any further.
Well, it depends on where you are going in AZ. You either go to Vegas and then drive south, or take I-10 to Phoenix and later drive North. If you are only going to Kingman or Bullhead City (or nearby) it's kind of a PITA, but you can get there. An overnight 24Amp charge at destination will get you back to a full battery. If you want to arrive at Needles with more of a charge, you could drive to Blythe and charge before heading N to Needles instead of going through Barstow.

Frankly, it looks like CA is doing a great job planning out fast charge infrastructure - it's up to AZ to add stations within 100 miles of the border to facilitate EV drivers in their state.

And all of this doesn't take in to account the piles of $$$ that VW will be spending on charging in the state (but I doubt that will even start to show up before 2019 - if so, only in very limited quantity).
Thanks for the review.

It was exhausting just reading it. Glad you seemed to enjoy the experience but it just confirms for me that I'd never want to take my Bolt on a long distance drive.

The MB is my long distance car of choice and has a range of about 500 miles when full.

That can get me from SF to San Diego (and almost all the way to Portland) w/o stopping for gas but I'd probably stop at least once or twice just to stretch and to grab something to eat/drink but I wouldn't have to spend 30-60 mins on a DCFC (or more on an L2) every 150 miles or so as I would w/the Bolt.
Personal preference I guess, I just like sticking it to the gas man! I don't mind taking 45 minutes at a stop every 150-175 miles anyway, usually want something to drink or eat and at least go to the bathroom anyway.
Hello there,

I just went 588 miles (Napa to Corvallis) along the same route. Personally, I found the Carl Jr's not very appealing (due to the 30 minute limit).

On the way up, I hit
Corning (Olive Pit)
Redding (Carl's Jr.)
Dunsmuir (Yaks)
Phoenix (spent the night; the RV park at my hotel was full, so I charged at the 24kW Fred Meyers in Medford for 2 hours)
Roseburg (Fred Meyers)
Overnight charging at the free charge point L2 chargers at OSU (overnight top off with wall plugs at the Hilton)

Yaks was a great find, esp. given the park near the river

Only 1 of the 24kW chargers reset on me (the Carl's in Redding), otherwise they all charged until I stopped them.

I probably stopped a little too conservatively (usually had 40-70 miles of range left each time), but I was solo on the way up, and first time trying this.

On the way back, we drove straight thru (since there were two drivers)

Roseburg (Fred Meyers)
Grants Pass (Fred Meyers)
Dunsmuir (Yaks), this was our longest charge, since it's a great place to stop)
Williams (Carl's Jr.) - We should have charged longer at Dunsmuir, and had to skip Willows due the the charger being in use
Vacaville (Arco) - We got out of Williams as soon as we could get here, because it was hot! This was the only time my battery indicator went orange (20 miles about 3 miles out of Vacaville)
Napa (Meritage) - mostly because we wanted to try the 50kW charger; unfortunately it threw a system error 62

Morning charging, and charging after the sun went down kept me at 22kW during each charge session. Past 80%, I was still able to pull 16kW. the 109 degree heat in Williams was only allowing us to get 14ish kW, which is why we got out of there as soon as we could.

I went around 68 both ways, got 3.8 mi/kW on the way up, 4.1 mi/kW on the way down, so 228-246 miles.

50kW chargers would be great addition, but I did find one big advantage to having to stop for more than a few minutes each refill was I was not bend over and sore after each drive.

Still debating if I want to do this again in the fall when I have to go back up. Don't think they will have 50kW chargers in place by then.
Actually, they might have quite a few 50KW or higher chargers in by then, read the link on the second post, it shows the future fast chargers being added by the various networks. We were thinking of using our Volt on the next drive to Oregon, but if they finish putting the stations in by our next trip, we will use the Bolt again. We were also pleased that they are adding 3 new fast chargers along the route to Vegas, even through the one in Victorville is enough, the one in Barstow makes it possible to go to Laughlin as well :) Before it would have been pretty iffy and "iffy" is not what you want to hear until they have fast chargers at every interstate gas station! After all, gas stations are really all about getting you "fueled" up, either (gas, electric or hydrogen) and make sure you buy some over priced snack items as well. I wish there was one going in at Needles, but at least they have level 2 chargers now.
I think you did stop a few times too many, but you never know if someone is charging on one of those single chargers when you get there, at least it gives you the option of skipping it. On the one that gave you an error, most likely if you tried again it would have worked. Once we got an error, if we tried again, it always worked the second time. The one in Redding at the Carl's Jr. seemed to need it's electronics warmed up before it worked properly.