Thinking Electric Car? Join Along with WAER's Chris Bolt as He Tries it on

Jun 26, 2017

A State rebate and longer-range batteries might make owning an electric vehicle more appealing in New York.   WAER’s Chris Bolt is testing out what “A Day in the Life” of an E-V is like.

So, if everyday you might be driving an E-V – that’s electric vehicle –  there are things you’re probably naturally curious about.  I put that idea to friends, relatives and workmates when I got the chance to test drive the Chevy Bolt…and they had plenty of questions.  The two most oft-asked were about charging and battery range.

“You first come to the side of the car and open the cover for what would be the fuel tank, but there’s a plug receptacle in there.  The charger is at the edge of the parking lot.  (beeps) It’s beep lets me know it’s ready to go.  (beeps) That beep from the car lets me know it’s charging.”

This is one of 15 chargers at the Washington Street municipal parking lot in downtown Syracuse.

“This Chevrolet Bolt has an estimated maximum range of more than 230 miles on a full charge.  We’ll see after charging it for a few hours how much distance we gain.” 

Now as I was charging, right next to me was Rob who owns a different type of EV – a Chevy Volt…that’s volt with a V.  It’s a hybrid that can be driven in all electric mode…which Rob does most of the time

“Right now, I think it’s got to be 85% or 90%”

More from Chris's Chevy Bolt test drive, more questions answered, later this week on WAER 88.3 FM

Rob, who had a shorter range E-V in the past, found charging is a little slower than expected.

"When it’s really low, when the battery is down, it takes more than an overnight to charge it up all the way (using a home, plug in charger) because it’s a larger battery that what I was used to.  At these places (commercial chargers) with 220 (volts), it’s a lot quicker.”

Now the volt can run a little over 50 miles on a charge…but has a gas engine for backup.  There are other plug-in hybrids on the market …and for shorter trips and commutes, people could run all-electric much of the time.  Other hybrids switch back and forth …with the gas engine charging the batteries for electric driving. 

TOP EV'S IN TERMS OF BATTERY RANGE, FULL CHARGE

  • Kia Soul Electric – 93 mile range
  • Nissan Leaf – 107 mile range
  • BMW I-3 – 114 mile range
  • Ford Focus Electric – 115 mile range
  • Hyundai Ioniq – 124 mile range
  • VW E-Golf – 125 mile range
  • Chevy Bolt – 238 mile range
  • Tesla Model X – 295 mile range
  • Tesla Model S – 335 mile range (with purchase of upgraded batteries)
  • (as reported by manufacturers)

The charging cable locks into the Bolt's receptacle until the user stops the charge with swipe of a key tag.
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

Let’s check out how my Bolt is doing on the charger.

“So we’re back at the car at the charging station trying to figure out how much we got on the charge in a little over three hours.  (beeps) I told the charging station we’re done charging and it beeped.  I can hear the Polish Festival in the background.  Now turning the car on we’ll see how much charge we got.  The charge gauge – or fuel gage – says 139 miles; it was at about 53 miles when we started charging, so doing some quick math, that’s about  86 miles of charge that we got in a little over three hours.”

So with the Bolt…if you had a 12 mile commute each way…you could run all work-week on that one charge.

“One more word about charging the battery, when you brake the car it actually has what they call regenerative braking.  It actually uses the momentum of the car in the braking system to add some charge back to the battery.  With this Chevy Bolt, there’s a mode you can use where the regenerative braking engages when you take your foot off the gas and actually slows the car quite fast.  It takes some getting used to, but it is recharging your battery.”

I have the E-V a couple more days…so I’ll check in at the end of the week on what it’s like to drive and the experience on a longer trip.  People also had questions about cost of charging…acceleration…and costs and environmental issues for the materials in the extended batteries.

Back in 2011 there were fewer than one thousand hybrid and electric vehicles on the road in New York…in the five years since, more than 20-thousand E-V’s have been sold in the state.  Longer-range E-V’s, such as the Chevy Bolt, are expected to increase sales.  NYSERDA manages the New York State rebate program of up to $2000.  Federal tax credits are also available but are expected to be canceled.