Chevrolet Bolt EV Owner: ‘You’re Slowed Down By The Charging Network, Not The Car’13
With an EPA-estimated range of 238 miles and DC fast-charging capability, the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is easily one of the more livable battery-electric vehicles on the road today – at least on paper. Those two attributes, in conjunction with its ample cargo capacity, mean that the Bolt should qualify not only as an adept city vehicle, but as an okay road-trip car, as well.
However, while it’s certainly possible to take the Chevrolet Bolt EV on a lengthy road trip, the relative lack of expedient CCS (Combined Charging System) stations means that taking the vehicle a long distance across state lines can be a chore. Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield of Transport Evolved discovered that much when she decided to take her new Bolt on an experimental, 500-mile road trip.
The problem, she says, is that while the CHAdeMO charging standard is fairly well-established, having what she calls a “robust” charging network in many parts of the US, the CCS standard is less mature. Stations are reportedly fewer and farther between, and many of the existing locations are limited to around 24 kW of power. The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, for reference, is able to handle up to 80 kW.
Ms. Gordon-Bloomfield’s conclusion: “Yes, you can road trip in a Chevrolet Bolt EV; it’s far more easy than it would be in a limited-range EV. But the speed of charging really does make a difference… You’re slowed down by the charging network, not the car, and that’s a bit of a problem.”
For more, watch the video from Transport Evolved above.
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There’s a Tesla charging station near our home. It has six “pumps”. The important aspect is not the number as I’ve never seen more than three Ts there at any one time, but that there is a major Walmart style store, a barber shop, and a half dozen eateries within a couple of hundred feet of the facility. Think about it Chevy
Funny you should mention the name Walmart. What if every Walmart had an electric charging station. Or even hydrogen. Last year I was at a Walmart distribution center in Ohio they had hydrogen there to refill the fuel cells That power their forklifts.
All Walmarts in our part of Ohio have EVgo CCS. Unfortunately they don’t do 80kW and they have a 30 min charge limit.
This is WAY in the future stuff but it would be really cool if batteries —
— got standardized
— were a lot smaller (say the size of a thick computer keyboard)
— and were hot swappable
This means batteries would wait for you at swapshops. You’d swap in charged batteries and give up your battery. Under one minute and off you go. You could also keep extras with you for llllooooooonnnng trips.
It could work, but given how many industrial designers are taking license from integrated and sealed AIO devices, the option to remove and replace a battery may prove difficult.
Consider old laptops with replaceable batteries. It was convenient up to a point, but if every laptop you owned and laptop that was for sale had the same physical battery for years on-end with only slight differences in capacity, then the ability to adapt new laptop designs that don’t interfere with the physical battery become more challenging.
Laptops also came with 2.5″ solid state drives, but now most use the newer M.2 ports which allows for smaller and faster SSD. Should the newer laptops have allowances in their designs that accommodate the slower and larger SSD’s simply because they are legacy hardware, or should the consumer have to choose between 2 different types of solid state drives?
Standardization of car batteries would lead to reduced costs for both manufacture and consumer, but it could lead to design stagnation if the standardized parts remain unchanged for years while other parts of the car become smaller or lighter.
A thumbs up your reasoning. Still we do it with USB. Maybe a standard is re-established every 5 years. And so a battery station might offer option A first and then 5 years later add B. Five years later A dies off and C comes online.
That could work where you’d have the lead engineers of automakers jointly agreeing what the next battery standard should be.
A hypothetical “Type A” battery with X, Y, and Z physical dimensions having a capacity between 50 and 100Kw, able to withstand a thermal from -30c to +50c, etc.
I mean the published detailed specs would be immense, but it would mean that every automaker could jointly share in the development costs of a Type A battery, with those contributing more money being the one who first dibs on it’s application.
The USB analogy is good. The USB type A ports have been around for decades, but the shortcomings with port design are just as annoying today as they were then. But then again, look how long it’s taken to get type C ports rolled out, and even then there’s like 9 different flavours of USB type C.
If EV battery standards were developed at the rate as USB standards, nobody would want to wait 10 years for any significant battery changes. People (sadly) just aren’t that patient. Even if the older standards are just as useful and practical today despite being older or slower, some people just want the best thing now.
Chevrolet sold a record high of 2,107 Bolt vehicles in July 2017, but this is still a tiny number and EV customers cannot expect cities to invest $Millions to build infrastructure for such a low number of vehicles and EV owners might not see very much change until Bolt sales get near half of the number of Chevy Cruze vehicles sold (12,278 in July 2017).
The key to EV progress is standardization. First, standardizing the plug used for charging connections. Second, a standard way to pay at the charging stations. Expecting standard batteries & battery swapping will never work.
There is a standard: SAE J1772 CCS. All the world’s major EV manufacturers (except Nissan and Tesla) will use it. Yet the Nissan Leaf has a J1772 Level 2 port for AC charging, and there is a OEM adapter for a Model S or X to charge at a J1772 station. So even the two “specilized” manufacturers accept it.
Exactly. SAE is the Society of Automotive Engineers. They have set standards for car related components well before EVs came on the scene. In fact, the CCS standard is SUPERIOR to Tesla’s Supercharger as it’s capable of up to 350kW max. Tesla choosing to spur SAE and go their own route, while claiming to be open and desiring nothing but EV adoption, is quite contradictory.
I also am a Bolt EV driver and cover a territory between New York, Boston, and Quebec, Canada. 400 mile daily drives are becoming routine. It’s true what Ms. Gordon-Bloomfield says: The Bolt is great, but CCS stations *as installed* are a grab bag. Identical ChargePoint or eVGo (BTCPower) chargers feeding my Bolt at similar battery levels will deliver widely varying charge rates.
At the heart of this is how the charger was installed as well as unreal expectations set by the charger manufacturers. A garage owner that installs a 25kW capacity charger on a 20kW circuit will get a charger that delivers less than 20kW. The ’50kW rated’ eVGo stations from BTCPower will deliver 50kW, *ONLY* into a 500V battery. If you have a 380V battery like the Bolt, you will max out at 38kW. Confusing? You bet!
The reason that Tesla gets lauded for Superchargers is that Tesla controls all aspects of building a Supercharger station and has matched the Supercharger output to their vehicles. The consumer really does not have to think about it.
For those of us who do have to think about charging, consumer transparency regulations would help drive the EV charger market to a better future. Here are some things to think about:
Test and Certify SAE CCS chargers *as installed*. Require the labeling of the charger with something like “Will deliver 38kW into a Chevrolet Bolt, 35kW into a BMW i3, 42kW into Nissan CHAdeMO…” With information, consumers will soon choose the best charging stations and station owners will benefit. ICE drivers do not fill up from pumps that are not checked for accuracy, why should EV drivers have to take their risks?
Require charger software to report the cost per kWH delivered to the vehicle. Don’t regulate what can be charged, just make sure the consumer knows about it. Too many of the EV charging industry models hide information, charging by the minute or charging a fixed hookup fee without ever informing the consumer of what is being delivered. When the consumer, armed with social media, learns they are paying $0.69/kWH from an over-rated charger, there will be changes.
We are in the beginning stages of an EV conversion. Looking back at gasoline, it took years to develop octane standards, testing regulations for pumps, and consumer price communications. EV drivers need to start pushing for similar, consumer friendly, regulations. It’s more than just a standard connector.
Standardization is a wonderful idea but not one easily achieved.
Every company is working on better, faster etc batteries and this will entail different connections and even different chargers.
Few want to invest in mass charging when in a year or two it could be out dated.
Just look at the smart phones and the different things they do and it is no different.
While we are closer to electric cars for the masses than ever there is still slot of work and changes to come.
That will apply to the cars as they ei be out dated I just a couple years andbe as useful as a I phone 3.