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

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How badly do you want a new, affordable, long-range electric car?

Badly enough to drive it more than 800 miles without a unified fast-charging infrastructure?

That's exactly what Bill Massmann, a professional land surveyor in St. Louis, Missouri, did to become the proud owner of a new 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car.

DON'T MISS: Chevy Bolt EV: nationwide sales moved up to August for electric car

Long-time Green Car Reports reader Massmann lives in a state that was in the very last group where Bolt EVs would be made available: he wouldn't have been able to take delivery of one until September.

So he took matters into his own hands, searched for dealers elsewhere who had Bolt EVs in stock, and planned a road trip.

What follows are his words, lightly edited by Green Car Reports for clarity and style.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Can you drive a Chevy Bolt EV half way across the country? Of course you can, but with lots of planning!

I had to have a new Chevrolet Bolt, but they wouldn’t be available in Missouri until September 2017. They went on sale on the West Coast last December, and on the East Coast in March. 

I just couldn’t wait.

READ THIS: This family has two Chevy Bolt EV electric cars, uses no gas at all

I’ve been interested in electric cars for years, but the 80-to-100-mile range cars were unacceptable. And of course the Tesla was a little out of my price range. Then I heard about the 238-mile range Bolt EV and I was in!

I started checking online for dealers that had them and which would be the most practical place to buy one and drive it back to St. Louis.

The logical thing to do would be to trailer your trade-in to the out-of-town dealer, then trailer your new electric car back home—but where's the challenge in that? Life is full of adventures and this would be one of them.

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]

Researching charging-station sites are a must when planning, and I couldn’t have accomplished the trip without them.

ChargePoint and PlugShare are my favorite online resources, though it's interesting that not all charging stations show up on both sites. I'm not sure how they get their info, but when planning a trip, you should check more than one site.

A trip from the West Coast to St. Louis just wasn't going to work: there weren't enough Level 3 DC fast-charging stations—which give 160 miles of range per hour of charging—to make it viable.

ANOTHER ROAD TRIP: Chevy Bolt EV: 800-mile trip in 238-mile electric car shows challenges remain

You'd have to make numerous Level 2 stops (25 miles of range per hour of charging), and that just wouldn’t work unless you have a week to devote to seeing the great wild Wild West.

I found there are many more Level 3 sites between east coast and St. Louis. But, were there enough to make a trip to St. Louis practical?

I found several dealers in Virginia that had Bolts, and concluded a deal with Hendrick Chevrolet Buick GMC in Henrico, outside Richmond, Virginia.

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