EV Charging: Lessons Learned
What Four Years of EV Driving Have Taught Us
We have ordered the hitch for our Chevy Bolt. As we get closer to towing a little practice camping trailer, we’ve got to think about what we’ve learned from driving EVs for the past four years and how that applies to towing with the Bolt.
We’re in the Tampa area for the annual RV Supershow, the biggest RV show in Florida and one of the biggest in the country. In the coming weeks, we’ll be reporting on some of what we learn.
We filmed today’s episode while we got a free charge on a Duke Energy fast charger. We drove down to the Tampa area from Jacksonville, about 170 miles, without stopping for more juice along the way. Getting ready for a bit of local travel tomorrow, we charged up to over 80 percent in about an hour from about 30 percent. The app reports that we added about 32 KwH or about 128 miles.
Our personal best for the longest trip on a single charge was 245 miles from Reno, Nevada to Danville, California, in the Bay Area via Lake Tahoe. The trip ended at a lower elevation and featured a winding, scenic and slow route. The speed and descent both helped the range.
Having made several trips from Salt Lake City to the Bay Area, plus countless trips around Utah up to 1,000 miles in a weekend, we’ve learned some patterns. We try to synchronize charging with Devin’s bathroom breaks. We generally charge up about every 80 to 120 miles.
All EVs charge faster from 10 to 50 percent than 50 percent to 90 percent. As a result, it is faster to add 100 miles of range to a nearly empty battery than one half full. So, we often choose to hop from charger to charger arriving with less than 15 percent of battery or less than 30 miles of range. The average charging time for us is 30 to 45 minutes.
Towing a trailer with the Bolt will likely cut our range 30 to 50 percent, depending on the size, shape and weight of the trailer and the speed we travel. Still, we should be able to go 80 to 100 miles between charges, meaning that we won’t need to charge much, if any more often. We will, however, have to stay longer each time to ensure that we have the range required to tow to our next stop, pushing our average charging time to an hour or more.
Towing a trailer with the Bolt over long distances may be possible but not practical or fun. This stage of our journey will just be practice. We’ll likely stay within a 300-mile radius of Jacksonville.
Some of you will be thinking how horrible this sounds. For us, the challenge is the sport—it is a vital part of the fun for us. There are two things we want you to remember:
No one will ever make you buy a 2017 Chevy Bolt EV to tow a trailer. We promise!
EVs with 500+ miles of range are now coming to market. By mid-decade, we expect several vehicles in various formats to hit that mark.
Stay tuned for more updates!