Sunday, June 25, 2017

Drive across the state of Maryland (313 miles) on a single charge? Yes, you can!

Hello friends! It's been quite a while since my last blog post, but the stunt I pulled yesterday deserves a nice, thorough blog entry all to itself.

Everyone knows that the Bolt's EPA-certified range is 238 miles. A lot of owners (including) me have found that it is quite easy to attain, and exceed that range figure without even trying (at least in non-winter months). I found during several moderate range (100-200 mile) trips, I could attain or even exceed an average of 5 miles/kWh (or a projected 300 miles on a single charge) without even trying. What if I actually tried, though?

Chevy has recently started playing localized radio spots for the Bolt EV in the MD/DC/VA area, stating that you can travel from Annapolis to Ocean City and back on a single charge. Another version of the ad stated you could travel from Annapolis to Virginia Beach on a single charge. Both of those trips are within the Bolt's official range....BORING! Pretty much anyone could do those trips in their sleep without issues. How about going across the entire state of Maryland on a single charge, or over 300 miles? Now THAT sounds more compelling!

Mapping out such a trek, a cross-state drive from Deep Creek Lake (McHenry) to Ocean City is 315 miles, way beyond the Bolt's official 77 miles to be precise. Who would be crazy enough to attempt such a stunt?! This guy.

Despite the length of the trip being way beyond the Bolt's official range, there is a 2,500 foot overall elevation drop driving from McHenry to Ocean City. Factoring that into my calculations, I figured that would help boost the range of my Bolt beyond it's official limits. While the elevation change almost certainly helped maximize my range, it may not have helped as much as I initially thought. According to the below elevation chart, there was over 7,700 feet of climbs on the drive compared to the 2,400 elevation drop!

Looks like Ford's stock value in recent years

Now that I had my trip planned out, the only thing I had to do was get out to McHenry in my Bolt and charge it to 100%! How hard could that be, right? Well, as the saying goes, "Half the journey is getting there". In my case, it was probably more than half.

Maryland is fairly well developed for EV charging infrastructure compared to all states not named California, and even has a very good number of CCS fast charging stations that the Bolt is compatible with.

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Look at all those charging stations!

However, taking a closer look at Western Maryland, we go from charging station Utopia to Scorched Earth.

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I think the Mad Max world had more stations than this
Absolutely 0 CCS fast charging stations anywhere in the western half of the state, with 2 DCFC sites in Hagerstown being the most westward sites. Hagerstown is 108 miles from Mchenry, so not a chip shot.
I wanted to minimize the time it took to get and then charge back to 100% in Mchenry, so I decided to hit a couple charging sites in between my home in Columbia and McHenry. My "Ocean City or Bust" journey started at 4:41AM on a rainy Saturday morning.

The rain sucked up a lot more energy than expected

My first stop was at the EVgo fast charging station at the Hagerstown Premium Outlets. The 67 mile drive out to Hagerstown included driving through a torrential downpour of rain, as the remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy passed by the area. I was also forced to used the defroster, which drained even more energy. I arrived at the EVgo station and after plugging in, the station told me I was at 56% battery state of charge (SOC). This leg of the journey before The Journey used way more energy than expected, which would result in more downtime charging. Luckily, no more rain was encountered the rest of the day. In fact, the weather was almost perfect for driving an EV.

Gaining back charge as quickly as possible

Obligatory gratuitous selfie. (swear to God I did not color match my shirt to my Bolt. Literally just realized that)
After about an hour of charging (including 1 session restart because EVgo can't be bothered to extend the maximum session time past 30 minutes. grrr), I had charged up to 92%. At that point the L3 charging speed was barely any faster than the Bolt's L2 max rate (7.2), so I decided to move on.

While I could have driven all the way to McHenry at this point, I saw on Plugshare that there was a free charging station at Rocky Gap Casino in Flintstone, MD, so I figured I'd stop there to kill some time and visit a place I had never been to before. In hindsight, I probably should have skipped this stop. Though it did make my wallet lighter, which may have helped with range.

Completely free charging (as long as you ignore the $40 I lost on slots)

I had noticed that even though the Clipper Creek unit was a 40 amp version (and thus should have maxed out the Bolt's 7.2 kW onboard charger), I noticed via my JuicePlug I had brought along that the charge rate was only topping out at 5.9 kW. For whatever reason, the voltage was only reading around 190 instead of the 240 I had expected, which reduced the charge rates. As saving time was a priority, I pulled the plug early and hoped the L2 station in McHenry charged faster.

Too slow for my blood

50 miles later, I had arrived in McHenry. The location of the L2 charging station was actually located at a local bed and breakfast, the Lake Pointe Inn. I had noticed that they had a single L2 station along with a couple of Tesla destination chargers. I had emailed the Inn a few days prior to make sure I would be able to use their L2 station.

When I arrived at the Lake Pointe Inn, I found that the charging station I needed to use was blocked! And it was marked as employee parking only, no less. I was starting to worry I had driven all this way for nothing, but I found the manager and explained my situation, and he offered to have the employee car moved so that I could charge. Thanks a lot, Scott! The EV world needs more EV-friendly establishments like the Lake Pointe Inn!

Free charging courtesy of the Lake Pointe Inn

Luckily, the Clipper Creek station (same exact unit as the one at the Casino) was wired better or something, because I was able to achieve charge rates above 7 kW.

There we go, much better

For those of you curious, the following are the stats for the Columbia to McHenry leg of the trip.

Used up just about a full charge worth of energy. The mountains are not kind to range.
As I had almost 4 hours to kill before my Bolt charged to 100%, I spent most of the time exploring the Wisp Ski Resort, which was just across the street. All said and told, I walked almost 8 miles while waiting for my Bolt to charge. The Deep Creek Lake area could really use a DCFC station or 2.

When the Bolt was finally done charging, it was almost 3PM. I had to cover ~315 miles, while the Bolt's guess-o-meter (GOM) stated a figure of 234 miles. I was 81 miles to the bad!

Despite the fuzzy, if not crazy math, I departed right at 3PM, determined to show that the Bolt could cross the entire state of Maryland on a single charge in as close to real world conditions as possible (no driving around in circles at 25 mph stuff). In fact, the only preparations I made to my Bolt before embarking in this trip was to air the tires up to 44 psi (the maximum allowed). Driving wise, on certain stretches of highway in Western Md, I kept speeds 5-10 mph below the speed limit, as I knew there was no way I could make it traveling at 70 mph for extended periods.

One interesting thing I noticed is that 100 miles into the drive to Ocean City, the GOM stated I still had 226 miles of range. Which means it dropped only 8 miles after driving 100 miles. The elevation drop definitely messes with the range calculations. My estimated range remaining actually spiked to 268 miles at one point....50 miles into drive!

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A little over 70 miles into my trip, my 80 mile range deficit went 1 mile to the good

The rest of the drive was, frankly, rather uneventful. Once I cleared the mountains of Western MD, the GOM stopped bouncing around like a ping pong ball. I maintained about a 20-25 mile buffer on the GOM asI crossed the Bay Bridge.

The last 1/3 of the drive was very flat, so the GOM estimates remained steady. The last hour of the drive I actually sped up (going 5 miles ABOVE the 55 speed limit) as I wanted to arrive in Ocean City before it got dark. My 25 mile buffer slowly ticked down to a 12 mile cushion, but I pressed on.

With 30 miles left on the GOM, I got the "Charge Vehicle Soon" message. Yeah, I will, as soon as I get to Ocean City!

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I did not know that
With about 5 miles to go until Ocean City, the GOM changed to a blinking "LOW" instead of a number. While I was fairly confident I would make it, it's still a little unsettling to see that message.

5 hours, 36 minutes after I had departed McHenry and 313.4 miles later (56 MPH average btw), I had made it to Ocean City! And the desperately needed DCFC station at Royal Farms. Huzzah! After charging up for about an hour, I got some Thrasher's french fries (who stops in Ocean City without getting these?) and then headed back home, which was 135 miles away.

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313.4 miles on a single charge! And I could have gone a little farther too!
Much needed charge after the drive! 

So I had done it! I had answered the question probably only I had ever asked, "Can you drive across the state of Maryland in a Bolt on a single charge?" with a resounding "Yes, you can!".
I do have to point out that the opposite drive is definitely NOT possible on a single charge due to the elevation change. However, being able to obliterate the official EPA range by a good 75 miles without going to hypermiling extremes was certainly satisfying.

Another mark I ended up setting was my Bolt is now #2 on the "Most EV miles traveled in a day" page.

That's it for now. I did enter into an autocross event next weekend, which is a complete 180 from what I just did. I may blog about that one as well!


  1. Great adventure, bro1999! Thanks for sharing this. I just picked up my Bolt last week and did way better than 238 miles on a full charge. My area is very hilly, so your explanation about the GOM's fluctuations is also appreciated!

  2. Very cool! Thanks for sharing. What is this autocross event you speak of?

  3. Great story! Yes, there is a definite dearth of DC fast charging, Chademo and CCS in Western Maryland. There was an attempt to bid it out as part of the EVIP program, which put in the Chademo/CCS stations at several Royal Farms, including the one you used at Ocean City (also Cambridge and Salisbury). See . I'm not positive, but I believe western MD was considered uneconomic, but times have changed. Never say never! Cumberland, Oakland and the visitor center at the top of Sideling Hill would be great spots.

    I'm starting to spot more Bolts in the wild.

  4. Also interesting that you got your JuicePlug. Still waiting on mine, but I'm glad to see somebody's getting them...

  5. Fun trek!

    Brian have you tried or read about how many miles you typically can go on a Bolt after the low battery warning until the very low warning (when it just flashes) and then again from the very low battery warning until the power is limited just before it dies?

    On a LEAF it's 7-9 miles from lbw to vlbw and 7-9 miles from vlbw til the power is limited just before dead.

  6. "Looks like Ford's stock value in recent years"

    The best comment I've seen in a blog! :-)

    However, you did hypermile to a great degree by keeping it below the speed limit often. It would've been more interesting if you were able to keep the speed limit.

    Your screen shot shows 313.4 miles / 57.2 kWh = 5.48 mi/kWh. That is fantastic at average speed of 56 MPH, even if you had to go down 2400 ft.