Chevy Bolt EV electric car range and performance in winter: one owner’s log

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2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car after snowfall, Glacier National Park [photo: D Gadotti]

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car after snowfall, Glacier National Park [photo: D Gadotti]

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The arrival of the first affordable long-range electric car on the market has naturally led some owners to push the car in a way that they might not do with a plug-in car offering just 80 miles of battery range.

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, EPA-rated at 238 miles combined, removes most daily range anxiety and allows owners to cover predictable commutes for several days before plugging in, if they choose.

But what about more strenuous usage? Our reader D Gadotti of Western Canada put a white Bolt EV through its paces in some of the snowiest weather any electric car may have seen.

What follows are Gadotti’s words, lightly edited by Green Car Reports for clarity and style, and photographs.

DON’T MISS: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car: owners’ impressions after a year

Around Christmas, there was a cold snap here in Western Canada, accompanied by abundant snowfall. I decided to take a break from plowing and shoveling and go back-country skiing for a couple days at Rogers Pass in Glacier National Park.

It’s a trip of 300 km (186 miles) from my home in the Kootenays to Rogers Pass, but there are no charging stations there—so I would need enough range to continue on or return to Revelstoke, a minimum of 370 km (230 mi). 

I was curious to see how my Bolt EV would perform in cold weather. I had equipped it with the meanest studded winter tires I could find.

So I tossed my warmest sleeping bag on the back bench, put some food and drink in an insulated chest, loaded my ski equipment … and off I went.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car showing snow accmulation in windshield trough [photo: D Gadotti]

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car showing snow accmulation in windshield trough [photo: D Gadotti]

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RANGE

The trip to Rogers Pass is one I could have done on a single charge earlier in the year.  Throughout the summer and fall, I got more than 400km (250 mi), confirming reports that the EPA range rating of 238 miles (383 km) is conservative. 

Once I started using the heater to keep the cabin warm and, presumably, condition the battery, my Bolt’s range dropped alarmingly to around 250 km (155 mi) or less.  The number varied depending on outside temperature, desired cabin temperature, and fan speed. 

I truly wish I could read KWh rather than projected range remaining, but alas Chevy does not provide that information. 

If I don’t have far to go, or if the outside temperature isn’t extreme, I’ll pamper myself and set the car to 21 degrees C (70 deg F), but on this frigid-weather trip I kept it to a more frugal 17 deg C (63 deg F). 

While rating agencies give “combined” ranges, meaning city and highway driving—a bad habit inherited from cars with engines—a much more relevant datum for EVs would be to give ranges in temperate and cold conditions. 

Some of us live where winter takes four months or more of the year.  Knowing how far our vehicles can take us in winter is a crucial consideration when buying. 

About Nino Plevnik

I am an electric cars lover. I love our planet and want to leave it in good condition to our children. One of the good ways to do this is to reduce harmful emissions into the atmosphere. As a technical person I worked on computers, hardware maintenance and programming. Otherwise I like advanced technologies, music, books, movies, life and nice weather.

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