160 miles of mountain driving in an electric car? It’s no problem in a Chevy Bolt

My 2017 Chevy Bolt at the entrance to Blue Mountain Ranch in Florrisant, Colo. [Photo by Christof Demont-Heinrich]
blog logoI’ve written before about how an 84-mile EV — a 2014 Nissan LEAF for which I started a three-year lease and then saw my now ex-wife move out six months into the lease — severely limited me and my driving possibilities here in the Denver area (although it was good enough for virtually all of my Boulder-Denver-Aurora driving).

Although I liked my LEAF quite a bit, it was with a fair amount relief that I turned my 2014 LEAF back in to Nissan in September 2017 and began leasing a 2017 Chevy Bolt. Going from 84 miles of range in an only car to 238 in an only car is quite a dramatic shift.

The biggest and most important shifts = 1) a lot more versatility and options with a 238-mile vehicle; 2) A LOT less worry about –>will I make it, where will I charge, for how long can I charge before I have to be to places A, B, C and D?

I felt this general sense of relaxed relief today as I drove from Littleton, Colo. to Florrisant, Colo. — which is in the mountains here in Colorado — and back 81 miles in each direction for a total of 162 miles in my Bolt on a hot, dry, windy day here in the Rocky Mountains.

I had my oldest daughter, Alina, 13, with me on the way up, as I was delivering her to a summer camp.  We were burning more kWh on the way there — with two of us — than on the return, which was solo. The anticipated range displayed varied by as much as 25 miles in the up then down, then up, then down climbing that I put the Bolt through. But I knew each time it dropped it would come back on the downhill/down mountain to come.

My Bolt picked up some dust on the way up to Blue Mountain Ranch in the Colorado mountains. [Photo by Christof Demont-Heinrich]
I never once worried about not having enough range — in contrast the 81-mile trip would have been a real headache in my 2014 Nissan LEAF — and I felt relaxed the whole way.

In fact, according to Plugshare, there are essentially no Level 2 chargers anywhere near Florrisant coming directly from the north, which was the shortest — and most scenic way to drive from Littleton to Florrisant. It is quite likely that I would not have even made it to Florrisant from Littleton in my 84-mile 2014 LEAF, or if I had tried to, that it would have been a nerve-wracking drive.

With the 238-mile Bolt?

No Problem!

Driving in “L” mode (regenerative braking mode) the whole way, I generated a lot of juice on the mountain curves and passes going down. In fact, I left Littleton at 10:35 a.m. with 281 miles showing on the Bolt. I returned home six hours later with it showing 147 miles range left still after having driven 162 miles.

So, basically, if I had continued driving the way I did — a good mix of ups and downs with speeds ranging from 65 down to about 20 mph (around the mountain S curves) — I almost certainly would have been able to rack up 281 miles of driving, even, perhaps, 300 miles. And I had the air conditioning on the whole way!

Gotta love my Bolt — from which I did see one Tesla Model S and one Model 3 up in the mountains, something that shows electric cars DO have enough range now to make them “mountain” cars here in Colorado, even in places where there are long stretches without an Level 2 or 3 charging at all.

That’s electric car progress!

And I am happy to be a part of it now, in my Bolt, and since 2014 in my LEAF, and then in my 238-mile Bolt.