By Peter Perrotta
In a classic “Honeymooners” episode, Ralph Kramden bemoans the fact that he could never hit the high note on his old trumpet.
His ever-present sidekick, Ed Norton, advises that in order to improve in life, you have to sit down and make a list of your good points and bad points. Norton tells his best friend that once he composes the list, he needs to work on improving the bad points, while maintaining the good points.
That is sort of exactly how I feel about the – the first totally fully electric vehicle I have ever reviewed.
There are plenty of good points to rave about with this groundbreaking electric car, but at the same time there are some things – namely the cumbersome charging process – that I think need to improve.
The broad stroke benefits of this car – which by the way was named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year in 2017 – are simple.
It is efficient and at the same time peppy (the equivalent of 200 horsepower) while only costing about 93 cents to drive 25 miles. It has a tremendous positive impact on the environment (burning no fossil fuel and emitting no toxins into the atmosphere). And, it has some panache – while it looks like a stumpy wedge – it is actually loads of fun to drive.
On the other side of the ledger, I’d have to say that the charging process and trying to strategically locate where the charging stations are in relation to where you will be driving takes some getting used to.
In my honest opinion, if you are not the type of person who is enthused about realizing the environmental benefits of owning a car like this, then this is not the car for you, because you will not be excited enough to withstand the extra work and time needed to make sure the car is charged.
You also have to invest more time planning your route when it’s time to take a longer trip and not just scoot about town running errands.
It’s not as easy as just gas and go.
The 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV has an impressive estimated 259 mile driving range when fully charged – a 21 mile improvement over last year’s model.
By comparison, its competitors clock in at the following ranges: Nissan Leaf, 226 miles; Tesla Model 3, 250 miles; Kia Niro, 239 miles and the Hyundai Kona, 258 miles.
OK, so how do you charge the thing?
There are basically four methods to charge the Bolt EV. Since I live in a second floor condo, it was not practical to plug the Bolt in overnight.
However, if you use a household standard 120 volt plug, it will charge at a rate of 4 miles of range per hour – meaning it would take you 25 hours just to give it a 100 mile charge.
If you use an upgraded 240 volt home charging system, it would take you about 10 hours to give it a 100 mile charge.
To me, both those home charging methods take a bit too long, unless, of course, time is not an issue for you.
For me, the best and most efficient way to charge this car was at either the ChargePoint or EVgo charging stations.
What I quickly learned was that when you use these commercial charging stations there are two ways to charge – at a stage two level charging station or a stage three level charging station, which they call the DC or direct charge method.
The level two charging stations take about 5 hours to give it about a 100-mile charge – a fact I felt was still too much time. Like, who has five hours to spend in their car at a charging station?
Nope, folks, the only way to go with this car, is to use the DC or direct charge, level 3 charging stations. In my personal experience, when I used the DC charging stations, it took me about two hours to give it a 125-mile charge.
So what I found myself doing was planning it out so I took my lunch, something to read and my cell phone when I went to charge it so I could entertain myself properly during the charge time.
While the environmental benefits of the Chevy Bolt EV are obvious, the economic advantages are not so – especially with the price of a gallon of gas these days well under $2 per gallon.
According to the EPA’s Department of Transportation fuel use estimates, the average annual fuel cost to run the Bolt comes in at about $550 – which is very cheap.
At the same time, the EPA says it costs about 93 cents in electricity to drive the car 25 miles. That translates to $1.86 (about what it costs for a gallon of gas these day) to go 50 miles.
So yes, even with the falling price of gas, the question remains, is the Bolt worth it?
The 2020 Bolt EV Premiere is offered in two models: the entry level and less optioned LT with a base price of $36,620 and the top-of-the-line Premiere, with a base price of $41,020.
I test drove the Premiere model for one week, which carried a final sticker price of $43,735.
Added options to my tester were: $750 for DC fast charging provisions; $595 for an infotainment package that included wireless charging, a Bose premium sound system, and rear charger ports.
Also included was $495 for the Driver Confidence Package that includes following distance indicator, forward collision alert, lane keep assist and automatic emergency braking and $875 for destination and delivery.
The Bolt EV also got some impressive marks on the government’s 5-star safety ratings, garnering a five star rating for the overall vehicle score.
However, overall, I must say that despite having to get used to the charging issue, the Bolt EV has a lot to offer.
For a compact car, I found it to be roomy, comfortable and easy to drive. It accelerates smoothly and evenly and handles quite well.
Overall, anyone who is considering purchasing an EV vehicle, would be remiss not to include the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV on their short list of those models considered. Happy charging!
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears weekly. Comments and suggestions are welcome. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org