We’re currently spending the week driving the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier – the top-spec variant painted in the Oasis Blue exterior color and equipped with leather seating surfaces, 17-inch Ultra-Bright machined aluminum wheels, roof-mounted side rails and a new 360-degree Surround View Camera. This is also the mildly refreshed model powered by an updated 66-kWh battery (up from 60 kWh) which, according to GM, boosts maximum range from 238 to 259 miles in ideal conditions.
GM also claims the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV adds up to 100 miles during the first 30 minutes of charging at mild temperatures from a depleted battery, and up to 150 percent more miles during the first 30 minutes at cold temperatures. We took the car out during cold-to-mild early March Canadian weather to find out if this is true. Here’s how the car performed.
It’s important to underline that since we wanted to observe the behavior of GM’s battery in the cold, all our charging cycles were performed outside on public level 2 (240-volt) and level 3 (400-volt) charging stations.
Had our Bolt EV been sitting inside a heated garage during charging times, our results could have been different. Average outdoor temperatures ranged between -5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit) at night and 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day.
After the first charging cycle, the Bolt EV’s onboard computer told us the car had 263 km of range (163 miles) available, with up to 310 km (192 miles) of max range – 67 miles less than what GM advertises.
However, the Bolt EV’s onboard computer, or what many EV drivers call the guessometer (GOM), predicts how much range you’ll get according to outdoor temperature and past driving habits. Many EVs have this feature as well, but offer the option of resetting the car’s GOM. The Bolt EV does not.
We then took off on a 204-km (127-mile) trek, which included both highway and urban driving. The heater was on occasionally, as well as the heated seats. In total, we consumed an average of 26.4 kWh/100 km of electricity during our trip.
At our arrival, the car’s onboard computer predicted that it had 40 km (25 miles) of range left, suggesting a grand total of 152 miles. This is not only far less than what GM advertises for the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV, but also under what the car’s GOM had originally predicted. We performed the same test on our way back with similar results.As for GM’s claim that the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV’s updated battery gets 150 percent more miles during the first 30 minutes of charging, we were never able to actually observe these benefits during our charging cycles. Total charging times on a level 2 (240-volt) charger would take us nine hours, which is exactly the same as with the previous model-year Bolts. Level 3 (400-volt) chargers required a 45-minute wait for an 80% charge.
To the Bolt’s defense, we noticed the same results driving other EVs in similar conditions. Cars powered by a 60- to 66-kWh battery – like the Hyundai Kona EV, Nissan LEAF Plus, Kia Soul EV and Niro EV, will get you about 186 miles of total range at best during the freezing winter months.
Keeping the batteries warm during charging will indeed give help, but expect them to lose anywhere between 30% to 50% of total range anyway once you venture out on winter roads.
Do you own a 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV? Let us know in the comments below what your real-world driving range is.