Chevy Bolt EV Long Distance: Troubles On An 800 Mile Road Trip — Report

Chevy Bolt at a dealer in suburban Los Angeles. It's rated at about 240 miles of battery range.

Chevy Bolt at a dealer in suburban Los Angeles. It’s rated at about 240 miles of battery range.

Long-distance driving in an pure electric vehicle can still be a struggle. As a report this week spelled out in all of its inconvenient detail.

Green Car Reports posted an account of the challenges — Chevy Bolt EV: 800-mile trip in 238-mile electric car shows challenges remain — that one early Bolt owner had when taking an 800-mile road trip.

The short tl;dr version of the account: expect to be seriously inconvenienced in some scenarios — whether that’s a fruitless search for a charging station or waiting hours (and hours) for the car to be adequately recharged.

The longer version of the account:

Planning: if you stray from an urban area, do lots of planning, “especially when you want fast charging,” according to the driver who penned the account.

Detours: as a corollary to the above, the driver discovered that she had to take longer, less-optimal routes in order to access fast chargers.

Don’t lead foot it: if you’re used to driving fast on an interstate (let’s say 80 mph or over) all bets are off for that 240 miles of rated Bolt range. (Note: I can attest to this. The range on my Volt — which is a pure electric for me around Los Angeles — drops like a rock if I punch it for long stretches on 405.)

Charging fees and time compared to gas:  “Our trip back took 11.5 hours with all the charging stops. The total charging cost was $88.00,” the driver wrote. “Comparing this to a 5-hour trip in a gasoline car along Interstate 5 (or 6 hours via Highway 101), it becomes hard to justify the extra time—especially when using a gasoline car would have cost about the same,” she wrote.

Let me add a personal note. Range anxiety is (still) the one thing I hear consistently from EV skeptics. And some of their concerns are (unfortunately) supported for long-distance trips in the Green Car Reports account. My father — who recently purchased the plug-in Volt — would not consider a pure electric for those reasons. And that’s why the Chevy Volt — with its total range of up to 350-400 miles courtesy of its range-extending gas engine — is a good option, in my opinion.