Chevy Bolt and EV Trip Planner Estimates Experience To Date

By Paul Gipe

I’ve taken our Chevy Bolt, a battery electric vehicle (EV), on three road trips in our three months of ownership.

I’d used EV Trip Planner previously to estimate the amount of energy required for each leg of road trips we’d taken in our 2015 Nissan Leaf. While not foolproof, the web site trip planner was useful for determining how often and where we would need to stop and charge.

So when we leased the Bolt, EV Trip Planner was where turned first to plan our road trips.

Since I’d last used EV Trip Planner, Ben Hannel, the web site’s designer, has added two pull downs for the Nissan Leaf: Leaf Alpha and Leaf Beta. There is no pull down for the Chevy Bolt, though there is one for Tesla’s Model 3.

I have a query into Ben, a student at Stanford University, but at this time I don’t know the difference between the two pull down entries.

For all practical purposes, the Chevy Bolt resembles the Nissan Leaf except that the Bolt uses a much bigger battery and is a few hundred pounds heavier.

However, on a recent trip to Grover Beach from Bakersfield, I found that EV Trip Planner’s Leaf Beta entry underestimated consumption by more than 20% on one leg. See Trip Report: Bakersfield to Grover Beach in a Bolt–Mileage Estimates Off.

On an earlier trip to LAX I had thought that Leaf Beta was returning more accurate estimates of consumption than Leaf Alpha. See Trip Report: Bakersfield to LAX in a Bolt.

The experience of being off by more than 20% on one leg of the trip to Grover Beach was unnerving. I always try to maintain at least a 20% reserve for unexpected contingencies, such as a road being closed or a charge station being out-of-service.

Our experience so far is that Leaf Alpha consistently overestimates consumption. Thus we’ll arrive at our destination with more charge than expected. This is how we prefer it.

I’ll continue to make these comparisons as we explore the range of the Bolt. For now, though, I’ll use Leaf Alpha in the pull down menu and temper these estimates with those returned from Leaf Beta.

I also plan to take a series of drives that we’ve done in the Leaf and compare the Bolt’s consumption with that of the Leaf.

As noted in the companion articles, the error in EV Trip Planner’s estimates for Leaf Beta on the trip to the coast could have been due to a headwind.