We spent last week in Alberta, Canada to participate in the eighth annual EcoRun event, hosted by the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). The event focused on a vehicle’s energy consumption, whether gasoline, diesel, electricity, or hydrogen-powered in order to find out which of today’s cars are the cleanest of them all.
Of course, an EcoRun couldn’t be complete without the presence of GM’s all-electric subcompact – the Chevrolet Bolt EV. We drove the bright EV for good measure, and walked away with this interesting anecdote.
One of the Chevrolet Bolt EV’s signature characteristics, besides its all-electric propulsion, is its large 60 kWh battery, which enables the car to travel up to 238 miles on a single charge. The Bolt EV’s long range, currently one of the highest in the industry, allowed us to keep going even when we encountered defective charging stations. Here’s what transpired.
Well-known for its petrol production, Alberta is late to the game when it comes to alternative fuels. When comparing the province of Alberta to other Canadian provinces, such as Québec or British Columbia – both of which having recently installed thousands of public charging stations across their respective territories, charging infrastructure in Alberta is scarce at best, and in some cases, not fully operational.
During one of the legs of the EcoRun, we had to spend the night in a hotel in Calgary where 240-volt (Level 2) charging stations would allow us to replenish the EV overnight. When connected to such a station, it should take the Bolt EV roughly nine hours to completely charge up from a fully-depleted state. Upon arriving in Calgary, the car had 105 miles of range left. The next day, we were to drive 62 miles south of the city for our next leg. Though we had enough juice remaining to complete that drive, we figured a good charge couldn’t hurt.
But for some unknown reason, the charging stations proved defective. This had a relatively vital impact on the entire drive, since our Bolt EV – along with a Kia Niro EV, a Nissan Leaf Plus and a Hyundai Kona Electric – sat stranded the next morning with uncharged batteries. Among the vehicles mentioned earlier, only the Niro EV and the Bolt EV had enough range remaining to complete the next leg. Once we got there, we made sure to find fully operational fast-charging stations to replenish the batteries in the EV.
Nevertheless, our experience behind the wheel of the Bolt EV got us thinking: had the car been fitted with a lower-capacity battery, we might have been stranded in Calgary. Of course, circumstances could have been different and we could have arrived in Calgary with a lower charge, preventing us from completing the next leg. Alas, that didn’t happen this go-round.
We should also note that, of all the electric cars that were parting in the event, the Bolt EV is the only one to have been on the market for three years now. All other participants are significantly newer, yet the little Bolt could still compete – and quite favorably, at that – thanks to its class-leading range. That should demonstrate just how well Chevy first all-electric vehicle has been engineered.
Those curious to know what we averaged during our journey in the Bolt EV will be happy to know that we saw a 12 kWh consumption average, which ranked among the most frugal of electric cars on site. Only the Nissan Leaf Plus beat the Chevy with an 11.8 kWh average.