Driving a Chevy Bolt EV electric car halfway across the U.S.: what it takes Page 3

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Driving a 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV from Virginia to Missouri, June 2017 [photo: Bill Massmann]

Driving a 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV from Virginia to Missouri, June 2017 [photo: Bill Massmann]

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Day 2

With a full charge, no rain, and relatively flat terrain, the drive to Columbus, Ohio (174 miles), was a piece of cake. Our thanks to the Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research for the free charge.

While charging we used Maps to find a place to eat within walking distance. Off we went for the half-mile walk to a bar/restaurant ... which was closed! Maps then found us a chain restaurant we knew would be open, another three-quarters of a mile farther away.

Lunch finished, we took Uber back to our recharged car to save valuable time. And on to our next stop: Indianapolis, Indiana.

There are a few gas stations in the Indy area—Ricker’s BP—that also have Level 3 charging stations. What a great innovative idea. Perhaps this is future: gasoline and electric-car charging at the same location?

The distance from Columbus to the westernmost Ricker’s was 190 miles, which we could have made, but we decided to be a little conservative. Once again we really didn’t know how far the Bolt could go on a full charge.

So we charged at the easternmost Ricker’s, and drove through Indy to the westernmost one in Plainfield, a great place to recharge, including a few places to eat, some with WiFi.

Driving a 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV from Virginia to Missouri, June 2017 [photo: Bill Massmann]

Driving a 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV from Virginia to Missouri, June 2017 [photo: Bill Massmann]

Enlarge Photo

There, we had to get a full charge for the longest leg of the journey: 213 miles to Edwardsville, Illinois.

We had experimented on the Columbus-to-Indy leg and learned that setting cruise at 60 mph and turning off the climate control every once in a while helped to get the most miles per charge. You're just not going to go 200 miles driving at 70 to 75 mph, and 80 mph would be out of the question.

But driving that long leg was a little frustrating.  We set the cruise at 60 mph, and still had a little range anxiety. Imagine driving three and a half hours at 60 mph. We thought many times we were going to be run over by 18-wheelers, but it worked.

The Bolt EV has a gauge that shows the approximate miles left in the battery, with a maximum and a minimum, calculated by how you've been driving. When we started, the minimum number was less than 213.

But the longer we drove, the more the minimum figure slowly rose. In due course it surpassed the needed 213 miles—and we got to Edwardsville with 23 miles to spare.

So yes you can drive a Chevy Bolt the advertised 238 miles on a charge, if you can drive 60 mph. (That is an EPA combined city and highway range, which includes 55 percent city driving; the highway-only range would be considerably lower.)

Driving a 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV from Virginia to Missouri, June 2017 [photo: Bill Massmann]

Driving a 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV from Virginia to Missouri, June 2017 [photo: Bill Massmann]

Enlarge Photo

Our very last charging station before making it home was an EVGo site at the Commerce Bank in Edwardsville, Illinois. I had previously set up an account with EVGo, but hadn’t gotten my swipe card in the mail. No problem: just give them a call and tell them where you are, right?

Well, for some reason, EVgo couldn’t send the signal to the charging station to start our charge, though they tried several times. And the next-closest charging station was 27 miles away!

It was late, we had been driving all day, and by then, we were ready to park the Bolt and call for a ride home, just 35 miles away.

CHECK OUT: How much is a replacement Chevy Bolt EV electric-car battery?

But it pays to travel with someone who is way smarter than I am, and Tommy B is that.

He noticed that there was a credit-card slot on the charger ... and it worked perfectly!    

So, can you drive a Chevrolet Bolt EV halfway across the U.S.? Yes, you can—but it does take some extensive planning.

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