, ,

Going Green, Saving Green: How Chevy’s Electric Vehicle Fits Into Your Life

I am convinced that we are living in an era of change. I see it all around me; people are trying to live with a higher sense of responsibility and a lower course of impact. Green technology has been on the up and up, and if there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that people really do care. They do! A zero emissions vehicle? I’m interested.

If there’s another thing I know, it’s that we’re all moving at 100 miles a minute, and in order for something to be a viable alternative, it needs to be able to fit into our lives without much sacrifice. Enter Chevy. The Chevy Bolt is a completely electric vehicle that paves the way for affordable, long range EV’s.

Let’s talk range, as it tends to be the biggest issue with electric vehicles. The Chevy bolt comes in with an impressive 238 miles per charge. That’s about twice as much as most EV’s on the market. The only other long-range EVs currently available belong to Tesla. A long-range EV really does alleviate most of the stress that goes along with switching to electric. How often do you go to a gas station?

You’ll likely need to re-charge this car less than that. Pretty cool. Something that I noticed is how much the range will fluctuate.  The car comes equip with an ‘L’ mode that saves energy and will actually recharge the battery while driving. How fast you drive, what mode you use, and the outside temperature are all things that will affect your battery. Heat will negatively affect range, particularly when you have the A/C blasting.

On my trip through Idaho with the Chevy Bolt, I travelled from Boise to Ketchum (about 153 miles) through a heat wave and made it with about 20 miles to spare. Now, all factors considered: an 80 mph speed limit, the air conditioning blasting the whole way, and over a 3,000 foot climb in altitude… that’s downright impressive. On the way back (same speed, a little cooler, decrease in altitude), the charge was barely impacted. I was surprised with just how little charge we used. The battery itself has thermal head management, so it will self-heat or self-cool to keep the battery at safe temperature, even when the car is off.

The price is something that is particularly exciting to me, because it makes this car accessible to most people across the country. This car is cutting edge, environmentally friendly technology at an affordable price. The bolt starts at $36,620 and is eligible for a $7,500 green technology credit, which brings the cost down to about $29,120. That’s the biggest difference between the Chevy Bolt and its long-range competitor, Tesla. Although Tesla plans to release a more affordable version of the model 3, as it stands that car can only be purchased starting at $49,000. Minus the tax credit, that’s $41,500 minimum.

Two important cost factors that you may not have considered with an EV are fuel and maintenance. And here’s the great news: they are incredibly minimal. As far as maintenance, most customers use ‘L mode’, which drastically reduced your use of brakes. That, along with an even weight distribution from the battery being on the bottom of the car, increase the car’s brake life drastically. But say goodbye to engine repairs, oil leaks, fan belts, and whatever else is regular wear-and-tear on your typical vehicle. We asked chevy how long the battery life is on the car, and their answer was we don’t know. Because none of them have expired yet.

That’s really great news for some cutting edge technology. The vehicle also comes with an 8 year, 100,000 mile warranty just in case. As far as fuel cost goes,the national average for electricity is 12 cents per kWh, and the bolt currently has the most efficient energy consumption for electric vehicles, at 28 kWh per 100 miles. That’s around

8 dollars for a full charge. That’s without any incentives that may be available to you. Here in Los Angeles, many employers and companies let their employees or customers charge for free while working or shopping.

What is charging like? This may seem daunting if you have the travel bug like me. Charging is a lot more accessible than you may think. Chevy has made an effort to include charging stations at their dealerships nationwide. If you live in a more urban city, charging stations are all over the place. If you live in a remote area, you can absolutely hook your car up to an outlet, although time is something you’ll have to be mindful of. Without modifications, most homes will charge a car at 4 miles per hour.

Installing a level 2 station in your home will provide about 25 miles of range per hour (via charge point.com). Public DC charging stations provide the quickest charges, at 90 miles per 30 minutes. Adding the DC feature is an upgrade of an additional $750. There are multiple charge station apps that you can download. You can find a nationwide community of people willing to share level 2 charging on plug share, or locate public stations with charge point. A lot of people will also seek out National Parks and RV parks across the country for charging between major cities. If you run out of charge, AAA has a mobile charging option to bail you out!

The technology and design on this car is brand new, created and built by the Chevy team in Michigan. The look and feel is surprisingly luxurious. The back is roomy, the interior is modern (equipped with a large smart monitor). As mentioned, the battery pack is on the bottom of the vehicle, so weight distribution is even. You can really feel this when braking. The ‘L mode’ I mentioned earlier allows for one-pedal driving. So when you’re in this mode, all energy is being conserved, and kinetic energy is being re-harnessed while braking. This means that for lower-speed driving, you don’t need to use the brake at all. The car stops itself. There is also a hand brake on the steering wheel that will bring the car to a complete stop. This car is a complete re-imagining of the modern vehicle. I was very impressed.

The why: zero emissions. Minimal maintenance. Cost effective. Cool as hell. I am genuinely enthusiastic about this car, and the green technology that it makes available to the general public. And in looking to the future, I would like to add that Chevy has already started to draft a program for recycled car batteries. When I think about a company that is looking forward and giving people a responsible alternative, Chevy has done a truly outstanding job.