Wednesday, January 4, 2017

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

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 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??

 photo rehoboth_zps6lkybt8m.jpg

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.

 photo rehoboth 2_zpshval6wkq.jpg
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).

 photo shenandoah_zpsdew1wlte.jpg

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. 

 photo 152618_zpsxahghpdd.jpg
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:

 photo Deepcreek_zpswkjexgqi.jpg
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 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 as a gif (as in the kind of intestinal fortitude you would need to make this trip):
 photo mlb_zpslacqyssv.gif
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...


  1. I live on 110 with my Smart, so as long as your "local" driving is limited I'd say the ski trip won't be a problem

  2. Brian, There is also a J-1772 (and Tesla Connector) at Skyland in SNP. Skyland is closed until March 30th but I was there on Monday and the charging station does exist. Look for some CCS chargers to come online at some Royal Farms in Delaware very soon. Western Maryland is a charging desert. Look for a J-1772 at Rocky Gap and also Sleep Inn near Cumberland. Looking forward to hearing about your electric road trips! -LH

  3. I just read through all of your blog posts with much fervor! I'm extremely jealous, and what awesome lease deals you got. I leased a 2015 Volt fully loaded for $299 w/ 0 down, I thought it was an awesome deal. Unfortunately I still have 22 months left in my 2015, and it's really depreciated in value so it looks like I'll have to wait 22 months to get a Bolt :(.