Saturday, December 31, 2016

LA to SF: At the airport

Finally made it to SFO to pick up my friends with about 30 minutes to spare! The drive and charging took a lot longer than I had estimated but I think if I did not have the one leg with the bad weather it would have been a lot more reasonable.

Things I would take away from this:
- You cannot be in a hurry to take a long trip!
- Check the weather and wind before you leave and account for that
- Check the types of chargers you are going to be using; I assumed all EVgo put out 50 kW, but thats not the case
- If it's cold dress warm and use the seat heaters! Also precondition when you are hooked up to the charger!
- You will never get 50 kW out of the charger, I do not think I saw over 45 at any time even at low SoC

Stats for the final leg:
Temp: ~45-50F
Speed: 70 mph
Wind: None
Cabin heat: Off except for 5 minutes to clear the window once, two seat heaters on low
Miles: 134.4
Total kWh used: 40.2 (81%-14%)
Efficiency: 299 Wh/mi or 3.34 mi/kWh
Charging start: 6:29pm, 29mi range, 14% SoC
Charging finish: 7:04pm, 91mi range, 49% SoC (Also includes 2 minutes on the phone with EVgo)

Unplanned Stops: Thanks a lot heat and rain

Originally I had planned to go another 140 miles for the second leg of the trip but the weather had other ideas...

After I left the first charging stop it began to rain and continued to do so for the whole next leg of the trip. Being 45F outside and raining the windows quickly started to fog up so I was forced to use the heat in the car to keep everything safe. Needless to say this destroyed my range and reminded me why I wanted the 100 kWh battery in the Tesla. Previously I was managing around 275 Wh/mi and as soon as I turned the heat on it, coupled with the rain, jumped 375 Wh/mi. Based on this I would not make my next charger so I had to cut the trip short by around 30 miles and stop in Chowchilla to power up.

So far everything is working and the drives great but I can see how a 50 kW charging network will not allow for real long distance travel compared to the performance of a SuperCharger. Having to stop and charge for 1.5 hours each time really is not a viable thing unless you like sitting in Walmart parking lots. I could see how with SuperCharger like speed it might be passable though 30-45 minutes to wait is not that bad, time to maybe eat, walk the dogs, etc. I definitely do not see myself making this trip again!

Performance of this EVgo charger is also slower than my last stop, only pulling down 32 kW according to the car (100A, 366V according to the charger). The 30 minute time limit on the charger is also really annoying, this is something EVgo should look into removing!

New plan is to go another 120 miles and stop in Pleasanton for the final charge to get to SF. It stopped raining so hopefully the weather holds!!

Temp: ~45F
Speed: 65-70 mph
Wind: None
Cabin heat: On, 71F
Miles: 115.9
Total kWh used: 43.2 (83%-11%)
Efficiency: 372 Wh/mi or 2.69 mi/kWh
Charging start: 2:40pm, 19mi range, 11% SoC
Charging finish: 4:17pm, 139mi range, 81% SoC (Also includes 12 minutes on the phone with EVgo)

I left the last stop thinking I was good to go with 188 miles, little did I know the MIN was going to be more  inline with real performance!

Not my most efficient driving

Where my 50kW at?!

LA to SF: First stop

Took off from home this morning after topping up to 80% SoC (180mi range indicated). Also noted that as soon as you hit 80% the charger shuts off so if you want to try and ride the taper on the Level 3 charger I think you are out of luck. The battery was still charging at around 24 kW when it hit 80% as well. Oh well, I would have liked a few more miles in the battery. Update: I just realized it did not stop when it hit 80%, it stopped when it hit the 30min time limit. My actual SoC when I left was probably around 70-75%. I'll be more accurate on the next leg...

First stop is Delano CA at an EVgo station at a Walmart 140 miles from my start and I made it here with 14 (shows 18 but I was on the 14 mile side of the meter) miles of indicated range. Total battery use was 40.2 kW (75-8% SoC) which is ~287 Wh/mi or 3.48 mi/kWh. Speed was mainly set at the limit (65 or 70) but going up the grapevine really sapped my range although I did get back maybe 5-6 miles of range on the 5-6 mile downhill. It was also raining a bit so I am sure that did not help as well.

Overall the car is driving fine, lots of time in the right lane obeying the speed limit! The weather is pretty cold, around 45F, but I have the cabin heat off to save power. Much like your grandma's house you need to make sure to wear your sweater. It does start to beep at you around 30 or so miles of range left to stop and charge but it was not super annoying.

Charging now I am getting around 40-40 kW off the EVgo 50 kW charger, the car indicates a little more than an hour to hit 80% SoC and the charge session did stop after around 30 min. I spoke with EVgo and this is something programmed into the stations so if you want to charge more than 30min make sure to stick around your car to restart the session. The car does make some fan noise while the battery is charging but it is not too loud.

Time for the next leg...

Temp: ~45F
Wind: None
Cabin heat: Off
Miles: 140
Total kWh used: 40.2
Efficiency: 287 Wh/mi or 3.48 mi/kWh
Charging start: 11:22am, 18mi range, 8% SoC
Charging finish: 12:50pm, 187mi range, 83% SoC (Also includes three calls to EVgo to start charging sessions Update: Spent 6 minutes on the phone with EVgo)

Pre trip fast charge
Close to 80% and still pulling 23kW on initial charge
14-18 miles of range left at first stop 
Fast charging under way

Backup driver resting

Friday, December 30, 2016

First Impressions

Just got back home from picking up by Bolt, overall I think the car is pretty nice!

I do not have a problem with the seat comfort people mentioned in other threads, they feel pretty good to me. I am also not a big guy (5'10" 150 lbs) and not very wide, but for a skinny guy seem ok so far. Tomorrow I am going to spend 8 hours driving it so I will have a better impression of seat comfort after that.

In my opinion it rides pretty sporty and feels like a European car to me. Tight handling and very rigid. I like that kind of ride but on the 405 (which is like a washboard in a lot of places) there is a decent amount of bounce in the car. I was surprised with the handling though, I figured it would be more "American" and soft. It reminded me a little of the ride quality of the model X.

The dealer only had a charger capable of putting 3kw into the car so as soon as I had enough to get home I unplugged. I live next to a evGO station so when I got home I charged up for 20 min and it's pretty quick. Again taking it on a 8 hour trip tomorrow so I will be charging a few times and really see how it works out but overall it seems workable so far.

Everyone says it's cheap and plasticy, and it is, but I think it's the same style as my friends i3. His car is made of recycled soda bottles and because of that it's "eco" but still feels cheap. Overall very roomy and I think it's decent so far.

It's raining today so every time I tried to floor it at a stop light the just spun the tires but on the freeway it had decent pep. I think given that it is a $42k EV compared to a $170k Model X the performance is pretty good. More on this as I get a chance to really drive it.

The drivers display with the range and power being used I think is very intuitive. It's is a little strange that under around 65mph there is a green halo around your speed and above it starts to turn yellow, I guess they want to encourage you to drive slower and use less power. I didn't see if you go fast enough if it goes red but maybe tomorrow I will try to find out.  I do think there should be a reset for the setting of "power used since last FULL charge. I am not sure how chevy is managing the battery but this really encourages charging to 100% (which is a Tesla no-no) and there is no other way, that I can see, to reset this metric. Being a numbers guy this bugs me.

First fast charge!

The car app actually seems pretty useful to monitor charging status

Getting' some electrons

I think the orange looks cool

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

LA to SF: Route Options

Assuming I actually get my car before 12/31 I am planning on a small road trip up to SF and back to try out the fast charging network and see how much of a road trip car the Bolt can actually be. The main issue with this is that no one, besides a few reporters, has any real road trip experience in the Bolt. Highway efficiency is rated at ~217 miles by the EPA but that is based only on a 10 mile loop at an average of ~50mph, how will it perform at 70,75,80mph?

One data point to consider is that Car and Driver was able to drive the bolt 190 miles at 75mph with the cabin temperature set to 72F. This gives a decent indication that the bolt should be capable of around 315 Wh/mi on the freeway. Of course they did not record things like headwind, which increases energy consumption, or external temperature, which give an indication of how hard the car needs to work to keep you comfortable.

For a starter I have done the follow calculations based on speed and drag to determine the hypothetical range I can go factoring in increased wind resistance for faster speeds...

Battery Capacity:
Initial Charge %:
Available Power:
Highway Range (50MPH):
Highway Range (40MPH):
Highway Range (60MPH):
Highway Range (65MPH):
Highway Range (70MPH):
Highway Range (75MPH):
Highway Range (80MPH):

The 80% charge is based on the fact that I do not have a home L2 charger right now so I will use the L2/CCS charger next to my apartment to give me initial charge. I might try to push this is 90% or 100% depending on how much time I want to spend charging initially.

My Planned Route
I plan to take CA-99 up to SF and use the evGO charge network as I go. Unfortunately most of the ChargePoint stations are 24kW so I do not intend on using those.

First Leg
In my previous post I decided I would like to stop at my first charger after 140 miles of driving which, assuming I am driving 70mph, I should make with around 30 miles to spare (~16% SOC). Depending on the actual conditions I can speed up or slow down as needed to make this and ideally I would arrive with around 10% SOC. Worst case I can always stop at the charger in Bakersfield (110 miles from start) if I start to panic I will not make it.

I plan to charge back up to 80% at this stop (assume ~160ish miles of range), and head for the next stop.

Second Leg
The second planned charging stop is another 140 mile segment to the charger in the Applegate Plaza in Atwater. I chose this stop since the next available is another 28 miles away in Ceres which is 168 miles from my previous stop. Depending on the real world range I am seeing I might choose to push it to this stop or not freak myself out and just charge as planned.

I would charge again to around 80% since I need to go by SFO and then over to Oakland which should be around 160 miles total. If needed there are a few more charge locations along the route as well for a quick top off.

This is all dependent on actually getting my Bolt in time. If it does not come then I guess the trip is off!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Bolt EV

Looks like my Bolt is in Mira Loma and should be delivered next week! Originally I had an order placed for a Model X but since we decided to buy a house I figured the money was better spent other places but I still wanted a non-gas powered car that I could maybe use to drive long distances. So after delivery, on new years eve, I am going to drive up to SF from LA and test the CCS charging system along CA-99.

I figure I should be able to make it using two stops (leaving with a full charge); Once in Visalia (190 miles from start) and once at the West Valley Mall (170 miles from Visalia). Since CA-99 has a lot of CCS stations I should be able to adjust these stops if needed. It should take 6.5 hours of actual driving and around 2 hours of charging if Chevy's estimates are accurate and since I already have a L2 EVSE I can top up at my friends place when I arrive.

Since I have wi-fi on my phone (and I guess in the car) and several hours to kill while charging I will try to update the trip as I go.

Proposed Route