Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Bolt is Mine

So the words a lot of you guys following my blog have been waiting to see: I got my Bolt!!

On Sunday, I got the call from the truck driver saying he would be stopping in my area in the evening for delivery. I had to meet him at a parking lot near a big box store a couple of miles from my house, since his truck would not be able to drive into the residential area I live in. No problem! I took a Lyft to the meeting area (whatever happened to those rumored Lyft Bolts they were supposed to get first? Whatever).

Upon arriving in the parking lot, I could see a huge transport truck with a bunch of cars on it. As I got closer, I made first contact with my Bolt!

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There's my Bolt!

The driver, Max (not Brandon, it turned out), hopped out and told me it was a long drive from CA. He encountered plenty of rain and snow on his trip, and I could tell as my Bolt was covered in road grime and dust. Aside from being a little dirty, my Bolt had made it to Maryland unscathed. The unloading process was pretty cool to watch, as Max needed to raise up the vehicles on the 2nd level via hydraulic lifts in order to drive my Bolt off the trailer.

After doing a walk around inspection and finding no damage, I signed off on the delivery papers, handed Max 600 bucks, and wished him luck with his other deliveries. I had complained a bit about the shipping process in earlier posts, but it got to me roughly within the original time frame, so I really have no complaints about the shipper. Most people also aren't able to track their vehicles with an app, so a lot of the angst was self-inflicted.

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Dirty but arrived safe and sound.

I hopped in my Bolt for the first time, and noticed right away the range was very low (not a surprise since the dealer said they couldn't charge it before my shipper showed up). The GOM said 32 miles of range. After a few miles of driving, the range estimate hit 25 and I hit Propulsion Power Reduced mode, which triggers when the battery state of charge drops to under 10%. Despite being in PPR, I was still able to squeal the tires at a stoplight. 😊

First destination? A car wash! My Bolt was filthy, and that grime needed to be washed away ASAP!
I went to the Exxon a few miles down the road, and had to go into the store to pay for a car wash since I couldn't purchase one at the pump (can't buy a car wash without buying gas!). Made for a good photo op I just couldn't pass up.

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Won't see many Bolts at gas stations like this

After washing off all the road grime, I parked my Bolt at home to feed it some much needed EV-juice and also get acquainted with my Volts.

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Bolt, meet Volt. And other Volt.

I plugged the Bolt in overnight with my Clipper Creek LCS-25. It is rated at a max theoretical output of 4.8 kW, but I found that it only reaches a rate of around 4.5 kW while monitoring the charging status with my JuicePlug. No biggie, as the Bolt will rarely be fully depleted, and even if it is, an overnight charge of "only" 180 miles or so will be plenty for everyday driving.

The next day, I took a day trip to Baltimore! Stopped by the science center, and afterwards recharged MY batteries with some Shake Shack. Finding street parking is always a hassle in downtown Baltimore, but I managed to find a spot my Bolt squeezed in. A larger car would not have been able to park in the spot, but the Bolt was no problem with its small footprint. The 360 degree birdseye camera coupled with the rear vision camera + front camera made parking a breeze.

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Squeezed into a tight spot in downtown Baltimore no problem

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Shake Shack! nom nom nom

For those of you with kids, I took a few shots of the back seat with two Graco Turboboosters in the rear. I found that my 6', 190 pound self had room to squeeze in the middle, though I wouldn't want to do that for a long period of time. Still MUCH better than my 2017 Volt's "middle seat" though. Very similar space in the rear to my old, larger C-Max Energi. Moving one of the boosters to the middle would likely make a trip much more comfortable for an adult.

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Love that foot space

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Still a tight fit for an adult in the middle, though at least it's a real middle seat.

Here's a shot of my Bolt almost 100% fully charged. As it seems my Bolt spent a lot of time on while sitting idle during the shipping process, that number will surely improve towards the EPA figure (and likely above) once it gets used to my driving style.

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That's it for the time being. Now that I actually have my Bolt, I'll soon be able to post more detailed hands-on experiences.  😊

p.s. here is the route my Bolt took to get to me in Maryland. 5,401 miles in all of travel before I could drive a single mile, from the train ride out west to the truck ride back east.

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Would have been a much simpler trip direct from MI to MD, eh?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hit the road, Brandon!

It's been a few days since my last blog update, primarily because there was not much to blog about. After I found out my Bolt had been picked up by the shipper from the dealership, nothing of note happened....except lots of angst on my end.

The day after the shipper picked up my Bolt (7 January), I called them up asking when my Bolt would be loaded on the truck that would eventually take it east to Maryland. They told me, "Yeah! The driver should be on his way soon!", and said my original delivery window of 11-14 January was still accurate. I said OK, great.

The next day (8 January), I used my OnStar Remotelink app to get the GPS location of my Bolt. It showed me this:

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Looking up the address, it was the address of the shipping company in Maywood, CA. So Bobby at We Part Out Cars R Us did not have it, so that was good. I concluded they were still probably finding cars to fill up the truck for the ride east, so the driver hadn't departed yet. There were still 6 days till the back end of their delivery estimate, so I didn't find much reason to worry. Yet.

A couple of days later I called the shipper again, as my Bolt was still sitting in the shipper's storage lot pictured above according to the Remotelink app. I asked, "Did the driver leave yet for Maryland?", and they responded "Oh yeah! He's on the road now, and should be in Maryland by the weekend!". Right after the call, I checked on my app again, and it still listed my Bolt as being in the same spot it had been the last few days. I was starting to question whether they were feeding me a bunch of BS, or whether the OnStar app was feeding me a BS location for my Bolt. Odds were 50/50 as to which was true. 

Yesterday, seeing my Bolt still hadn't moved an inch, I sent an email to the shipper asking explicitly whether the driver had departed for Maryland, and sent them screenshots of the Remotelink app showing my Bolt was still in their storage lot. They then told me that the driver had not actually left yet, but was eating lunch and he would definitely leave today and would still make it to MD by the weekend. Now I was thinking that the shipper had been feeding me BS the whole time, and the app was indeed accurate. I was starting to regret not ponying up a few more bucks for shipping at that point.

Later that evening (around 8PM PST, waaaay past lunchtime), I checked on my app again, and my Bolt was....STILL IN THE SHIPPER'S DAMN STORAGE LOT! Either the driver was eating a 72-course lunch, or the shipper had again given me inaccurate info. This was turning into a bigger debacle than my Bolt's trek out west to the California dealer.

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Are you freaking kidding me??

This morning, I used the app to get another GPS location update, expecting it to show me another disappointing shot of my Bolt still being in freaking Maywood, CA. This is what it displayed:

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Wait, what?! It was moving! Praise *insert religious figure you believe in*!! My Bolt was finally heading east!! Now to resist the temptations of requesting 89 location updates a day and drain the 12V battery. Delivery is still supposedly this weekend!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Bolting Eastward!

(Still trying to decide if "Bolting Eastward" is the opposite of "Stabbing Westward" 🤔)

After the initial joy of finding out my Bolt had finally arrived at the dealer after a long, excruciating wait, the next step was to finalize shipping! I ended up choosing Montway Auto Transport as the shipping company that would have the honor of bringing my Bolt to to me in Maryland.

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After toying with getting bids from various shipping auction sites without much success, I decided to just pick one of the shippers with good reviews online and get a quote from them directly. It turns out Montway's quote of $799 was $60 cheaper than anything I saw on the auction sites, as there were no broker fees to be paid.

I had to pay $199 up front, with the remaining $600 to be paid at delivery. The Montway people called my sales guy the day before to set up a pickup time, and the next day they loaded up my Bolt on a truck and hauled it away! They told me that my Bolt would actually be transferred to their main office, where they would then load it onto a larger, 8-10 car hauler which my Bolt would ride on the actual trip out east. The truck hauling my Bolt is scheduled to hit the road later today, with a projected delivery day of no later than 14 January. Here's hoping that timeline sticks!

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Some dude named Brandon is supposed to be delivering my Bolt to me. I think his name is Brandon, unless it's actually Brundon.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

(Future) Road Trippin' in My (Future) Bolt

So now that my Bolt is actually at the dealer and about to be shipped out to me (and the feeling of ownership is getting real), I have already started envisioning what road trips would be like in my Bolt and how they may play out. I've already covered my analysis of a MD-CT trip to grandma's house (see http://www.chevybolt.org/forum/9-2017-chevy-bolt-ev-general-discussion-forum/5745-long-road-trip-my-volt-weekend-got-me-thinking.html for those details), and have found it would be rated, "dicey, but doable" with the current CCS network....but what about other local getaway destinations?

I plotted out 3 such routes via Plugshare, telling it to show me only CCS-compatible stations within 6 miles of my projected route. So there are actually a lot more CCS stations than what are pictured in the following maps.

TRIP #1: Rehoboth Beach, DE 

This is a place my family typically goes to a couple of times each year during the summer. It would seem this would be an easy trip in a Bolt. From Columbia, MD to Rehoboth Beach, DE, it is only 119 miles. Theoretically, I could make the whole round-trip without charging at all if I did some hypermiling, but who wants to do that??

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There seems to be not much in the way of CCS fast charging options along my proposed route, though there is 1 station that would be a perfect top-off point on the return leg in Queenstown, MD if I needed to charge.

Rehoboth Beach has at least a half dozen free L2 charging stations located in convenient spots (2 beefy 19 kW L2 stations located at the north end of the boardwalk, as well as multiple locations at Tanger Outlets on the main strip). Even without fast charging, it seems it would be no problem to be able to recharge full during a trip to the beach or shopping at the outlet mall, 2 locations we usually hit when we go down to Rehoboth.

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Plenty of free L2 charging at convenient locations.

Final rating for a Rehoboth Beach excursion: Easy Peasy, CCS not required

TRIP #2: Shenandoah National Park, VA

Another place we frequent is the Big Meadows campground at Shenandoah National Park (SNP) in Virginia. This location is 127 miles away from my house, but the campground is at 3,000 feet above sea level, and there is a pretty steep 6-7 mile climb up the mountain to the park entrance which would surely devour a few extra EV miles.

In the past, we would usually take the direct route that would take us onto Route 211 that goes through Warrenton and Sperryville, VA, en route to the Big Meadows campground. There is a single 240V, 6.6 kW Clipper Creek charging station located at the Byrd Visitor Center less than a 1/4 mile from the campgrounds that could be used to "top off" during the visit. Also, there is a dual CCS/Chademo DCFC fast charging station located near the northern entrance of SNP in Front Royal, VA (96 miles away from my home).

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If I wanted to play it safe, I could take the route that goes through the northern entrance of SNP, allowing me to hit that Front Royal CCS station for a quick charge, with the option of still "topping off" at the L2 station at the Byrd Visitor Center. Assuming I could hit either the Front Royal CCS station or Byrd Visitor Center L2 station once during my visit, I would be able to make it back home on just a single charge in the park from one of those 2 charging sites....or both if needed. 

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6.6 kW L2 station at the Byrd Visitor Center

Due to the fact the first ~25 miles or so of the return trip would be nearly all downhill, much of that drive could be considered "free", as I would be using regen driving down the mountain. If anything, my Bolt's SoC % could actually end up higher at the bottom of the mountain than what it started at up top!

Final rating for a Shenandoah round-trip excursion: Slight sweat broken, 1 charge stop required

TRIP #3: Deep Creek Lake, MD

Now for the most difficult trip: Deep Creek Lake, MD. The distance from Deep Creek Lake (DCL) from my home is 175 miles. In addition to the distance (which would take the Bolt to its range limits during the winter) there is also a net elevation gain of ~2,000 feet. Add in the fact we would most likely be traveling to DCL in the dead of winter too. A 175 mile trip with a 2,000 foot elevation climb in freezing conditions in the winter...that's already 2.5 strikes. Now looking at the charging infrastructure map, and you may think the Bolt strikes out completely:

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How about a CCS station west of Hagerstown? Anyone? Bueller?

There are a couple of CCS stations in Hagerstown, MD, and then.....scorched earth as far as CCS charging infrastructure goes. Not a single CCS station west of Hagerstown...nothing till Columbus, Ohio actually. In fact, there is only 1 "public" L2 charging station in the DCL area that really isn't even public...it is a Tesla destination charging site at the Lake Pointe Inn in McHenry, MD that hosts a single Bolt-compatible L2 charging unit alongside the Tesla-only stations. According to Plugshare, you need to ask the front desk to gain access to the charging stations.

So for all intents and purposes, it would seem 120V trickle charging would be the only reliable way of charging a Bolt during a winter ski trip to DCL (a shaky proposition at best). There IS a place of lodging we've stayed at in the past where it would be feasible to hook up a 120V charging cord, so 120V charging is a realistic option. Only question (a big question) is whether 120V overnight charging would provide enough juice for local driving around the DCL area in addition to giving enough charge to make it back to at least the Hagerstown CCS station 109 miles away. I simply do not know the answer to that question.

Final rating for a Deep Creek Lake trip summed up in a gif (as in the kind of intestinal fortitude you would need to make this trip):
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Huge balls!

So in closing, 2 out of the 3 trips seem like they could be completed without much concern. The Deep Creek Lake trip, however, would be a daunting task indeed. It would seem without either a CCS station located smack dab in the middle of DCL and Hagerstown (or a CCS/true public L2 charging station in the DCL area), a trip out there in the winter in a Bolt is a sketchy proposition. Maybe I should hit up the local ski resort and inform them of the benefits a couple of L2 charging stations on their property would bring...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


Dealer finally got my Bolt in! Shipper will be picking it up Thursday, and hopefully in MD no later than 14 Jan! Yeeeessssssssss

Appropriate radio station

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Sad Panda No More Bolt Update!


(Original blog entry)


It is now 2017 (January 2nd, 2017 to be exact), and while the year has changed...I am still without my Bolt, just like I was in 2016. Not only am I without my Bolt, but the dealership I purchased from is also without my Bolt, as it is still sitting in a holding lot at Mira Loma as of yesterday. I guess trucking a car ~60 miles from the holding lot to my dealer takes at least 9 days. 😡

While I was not expecting to have my Bolt physically with me in Maryland before the year was over, I did expect it to at least be on a truck heading to MD. Disappointing indeed, but there are much worse things in life than having to wait an extra week or so for a new car to be delivered...have to put things into perspective I guess.

While I do not yet have my Bolt, I have heard there are many others that did pick up their Bolts last week and are enjoying them! Congrats to those lucky new owners. I am definitely jealous, but my time with my Bolt is soon coming. Perhaps tod---nevermind, not even gonna get my hopes up.

This Youtube video clip pretty much sums up my experience waiting for my Bolt to be delivered (with me being the donkey, and my sales rep Shrek). Just replace, "Are we there yet?", with "Is it here yet?".
Far, far away indeed.

btw, I am still looking at transferring my '17 Volt LT lease to a Maryland resident. Please let me know if you are in MD and are interested!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Waiting, waiting, and...more waiting

Mini update: So December 27th came and passed, and the dealer still doesn't have my Bolt. Rats. I've been waiting so patiently too.

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Me waiting patiently

Despite my dealer not receiving their Bolts yet, it turns out other dealers HAVE received some of their Bolts. And a lucky guy in SoCal even posted that he took delivery of a Nightfall Metallic Gray LT Bolt this past Tuesday! He would be the first person to take delivery of a Bolt outside of the 3 gentlemen that picked up their Bolts a couple of weeks ago in Fremont in a GM-arranged event.

That lucky guy said he was surfing dealer websites, and noticed a couple of Bolts on one dealer's site no longer showed the "in transit" tag. After calling them up, he found out they indeed had a couple of "loose" Bolts in stock, so he promptly headed over to scoop one up! Price paid was MSRP.

I reached out to a different dealer in Huntington Beach, CA, and he told me that their dealership got 3 of their Bolts delivered to their storage lot the evening of the 28th. Below are a couple of shots of that dealer's Bolts. Only 1 was a customer pre-order according to the sales rep.

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3 Bolts at a dealer's lot in Huntington Beach, CA

Other people have also reported Bolts being delivered to other LA-area dealers yesterday as well. Here's hoping that my Arctic Blue Metallic Premier Bolt arrives at my dealer later today! Then I can finally get it on its final voyage home to Maryland!

JUST IN: AT LEAST 10 BOLTS HAVE ARRIVED AT RYDELL!! And none of them my Bolt.😞

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Not my Bolt

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Not my Bolt

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Also not my Bolt

p.s. Cleantechnica.com and Electrek.co....you know the drill (don't link my stuff!)