Math generally eluded me in high school, but even I’m smart enough to figure out that driving 1166km in an all-electric vehicle with an advertised range of 383km was going to require doing a few sums. Range anxiety is one of the first protestations given by drivers when asked if they would ever consider an electric car.
I was in Montreal to watch the 2017 season finale of Formula E, a series whose cars sound like the unholy union of a manic Kitchen-Aid mixer, a slightly out-of-tune Enterprise-D at warp nine, and Paul Bunyon speed-sharpening his knife while riding one of those Movators at the airport.
After the all-electric race, I hopped in an all-electric 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV and set its satnav for Halifax, some 1166km east. Chevy says a DC fast charging system can juice the battery up to 145km of range in 30 minutes. At my first stop in Lévis, 241 km from my starting point, the Bolt’s 8-inch digital screen showed 114km of range remaining.
After a total of 79 minutes at the Lévis fast charging station, the Bolt showed a range of 365km and my credit card showed a bill of $13.37. Some back-of-napkin math revealed that, at average Canadian gasoline prices, I would have had to achieve better than 4.6L/100km in a conventional car on that leg of the journey to beat that dollar-to-kilometre ratio. Not bad at all, given the Bolt’s natural home is in a city, where opportunities for regeneration abound at every red light and stop sign.
Its 60 kWh lithium ion battery pack is flat, spanning the entire length of the Bolt’s floor. This gives the car the centre of gravity of a worm, leading to much better driving dynamics than one might expect given its polar bear friendly agenda.
At each of my next three stops after Lévis, it took less than thirty minutes to replenish the Bolt’s battery to better than 300km of range. Naturally, public chargers are more costly than plugging in at home; my consumption of 155.5kWh on the journey hoovered $66.77 from my wallet. Had I been able to charge up using at-home prices, it would have easily been less than one-third that price.
To be sure, a highway is not the Bolt’s natural home. My trip did prove, though, that If one charges up their Bolt at residential rates, it’ll only cost a little over $20 to drive a distance equalling the journey from Montreal to Halifax. It doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that’s a great deal.