Because one Bolt range test wasn’t enough!
How far can a 2020 Chevy Bolt EV go at highway speeds? We put two 2020 Bolt EVs to the test by two different InsideEVs writers in different states to see just how similar the results will be. A few days ago we posted the results of the first test, conducted in North Carolina by Kyle Connor.
A few days after Kyle’s test, I set out in New Jersey, also with a 2020 Bolt EV, to see just far I could go driving at a constant 70 mph, just as Kyle did. I was unaware of Kyle’s results when I was doing my range test. It turns out that Kyle was able to drive the Bolt EV until it stopped moving, and went 228.7 miles.
I used the Bolt’s cruise control set at 70 mph (which I verified by GPS), had the tires filled to the recommended 38 psi, and had the car in drive. I did switch it to low gear when I was exiting the highway to turn around and on a couple of occasions when traffic forced me to slow down a bit, but that only happened 3 or 4 times and lasted for less than a minute each time.
I wasn’t able to drive the car until it stopped, but I was able to get it down to 1% state of charge before plugging in. I do my range tests driving up and down the New Jersey Turnpike, and have to base how long my loops are on where charging stations are located, so I can end up with a very low state of charge, just as I arrive at the station. I’ve gotten pretty good at doing that, and can usually pull up to the site with less than 2% SOC.
Halfway into the test I’d driven 104 miles and the Bolt’s range estimator showed another 104 miles of range to go.
Kyle finishes up his range tests at the InsideEVs track, so he can circle the track for the last few miles and allow the vehicle to completely run out of energy, which he did. He was able to squeeze 65.9 kWh out of the potentially-usable 66 kWh battery pack, while I finished up my run using 64 kWh, with 1% state of charge. If I would have tried to go to the next exit on the highway and turn around, I don’t think I would have made it back, so I had to stop just short of completely exhausting the battery.
I plugged into the charging station after driving 218.1 miles, which is 10.6 miles less than Kyle drove. I also used 1.9 kWh less than he did, and if we multiply that by my average consumption rate during the trip of 3.4 mi/kWh, we can potentially add another 6.5 miles, for a total of 224.6 miles.
It’s also important to note that when Kyle did his test he encountered a little rain and he also drove some of his route off of the highway and finished up on the track where he was driving less than 70 mph. I pretty much drove the entire test at 70 mph, the only exception being when I exited and reentered the Turnpike to drive in the loop. That could very well be why Kyle was able to drive a couple of more miles.
We now have two independent tests with 2020 Bolt EVs driving at a constant 70 mph with the results differing by about 4 miles. These tests were in temperatures that varied from the high 50’s to the low 70’s, which may not be ideal but is pretty favorable for getting good range results. We’re sure the results would be considerably less if it were in the winter and 30 or 40 degrees colder.
However, in similar driving conditions to what we experienced, I think it’s fair to say you can expect the 2020 Bolt EV to go somewhere between 220 and 230 miles before it will slow down, as Kyle demonstrated, and eventually stop. We should also point out that speed plays a big role in how far an EV can go. If we did this test driving at a steady 55 miles per hour, I’m sure the Bolt would have gone at least 20 miles further. So, if you need to squeeze out more range on your EV to make your destination, the best thing you can do is simply slow down a bit.
However, we know most people don’t drive 55 mph on long highway trips, so we decided to do our highway range tests at 70 mph, to simulate what the typical driver might experience. We will, on occasion do range tests at slower speeds, just to see how much of a difference the speed makes. However, it is our intention to test as many current EV as we can at 70 mph, and compile a comparison graph.
The final results
Chevrolet increased the size of the battery in the Bolt EV for 2020 to 66 kWh. Previous model years had only 60 kWh of usable capacity. Because of the larger battery, the 2020 Bolt EV’s EPA range increased from 238 miles per charge to 259 miles. We wouldn’t expect to achieve the EPA rated range on a 70 mph range test, but the Bolt EV did pretty well, getting 88% of the EPA range rating while being driven at highway speeds.
We also like to mention that these range tests aren’t perfect, there are variables out of our control like wind, traffic, topography, and weather. However, they do provide another data point for potential customers that are looking for as much information on the driving range as they can get.
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