Bakersfield to Santa Cruz and Return in a Chevy Bolt

By Paul Gipe

We again put our Chevy Bolt through its paces with a 540-mile round trip from Bakersfield to Santa Cruz to visit friends.

Well, ok, we took the trip to escape Bakersfield’s oppressive heat too. It was 63 F (17 C) when we left Santa Cruz and 104 (40 C) when we returned to Bakersfield.

The Bolt with its 60 kWh traction battery performed as expected. We consumed 133 kWh in total with 6% of that devoted to A/C and 1% to battery cooling. We didn’t skimp on the A/C and drove with traffic. If you’ve driven on Hwy 99 you know that can mean traveling at close to 80 mph at times. Even the slow lane can cruise at 65 mph. There was no hypermiling on this trip.

We would have preferred the more scenic route from Paso Robles on the 101 through the Salinas Valley but the critical DCFC stations were down. The two relatively slow Chargepoint stations (22 kW) in Paso Robles and King City are notoriously unreliable and sure enough users of were reporting them off line.

Consequently, we had to take the more pedestrian Hwy 99 to Hwy 152 to cross the Pacheco Pass west of Los Banos. We stopped for a charge on each leg at EVgo’s Madera station and it dependably was working. This route added about an hour to the trip, but it was workable and the trip was uneventful.

We used ~35 kWh on each leg and arrived at the EVgo station with about 45% state-of-charge (SOC). We charged to 80%, adding about 25 kWh in some 40 minutes. We then arrived at our destination with about 25% SOC, slightly more than planned.

Unlike some EVgo stations, the Madera charger didn’t time out after 30 minutes. We began with 47 kW from the nominally 50 kW station. Once the SOC reached 65% the car began limiting the power input. When we finished charging the car was drawing 24-27 kW.

On the outbound trip our consumption was only a few percent less than that estimated by Chevy Assist. We averaged 3.9 mi/kWh for the first leg and 4.1 mi/kWh on the second leg.

We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in Santa Cruz because it had two Tesla destination charges in the parking garage. At the hotel we charged up to 100% overnight for the first leg of the return trip. For how we did that, see First Use of JDapter Stub for Tesla Destination Charger to Chevy Bolt.

We consumed ~10% less on the inbound trip than that estimated by Chevy Assist. We averaged 4.1 mi/kWh on the first leg and 4.0 on the second leg ending in Bakersfield.

Our trip to Santa Cruz was our most extensive to date at freeway speeds. About three-quarters of the trip was driven at 65 mph or faster. Yet overall we averaged 4.0 mi/kWh on the 540-mile trip. This is better than the 3.8 mi/kWh of our 300-mile round trips to Grover Beach from Bakersfield, but in line with most of our other road trips.

The Bolt’s big 60 kWh battery and the growing network of reliable DCFC stations now makes such trips a possibility.