This article shows the data and work that supports our Chevy Bolt research. You can read more general and background information about the Bolt here.
You can spot the popular Chevrolet Bolt anywhere. It commutes, vacations, runs errands, or works for a living as well as just about any EV. With nearly 100,000 Bolts on US roads, it’s no surprise that this affordable, subcompact is a cornerstone in GM’s plans for an all-electric future. Owners of the Chevy Bolt appreciate its range, acceleration, and value for the price, consistently scoring it strongly in terms of customer satisfaction for both LT and Premier trims.
What is range and why would it change?
For any all-electric vehicle, the range describes how many miles the car can go when it’s charged to 100% and driven under a particular set of circumstances. Like with a gas powered car, the achievable range may vary with driving conditions. Rated, or estimated range is determined by EPA testing and is assigned to all vehicles of a particular make, model, year, and trim. However, there can be both short and long term changes to the actual, or achieved range. Temporary changes can be caused by external factors such as driving style, terrain, or temperature, while long term range effects are generally caused by battery degradation and age.
Short term: How consistent is the range from one day to the next?
All electric vehicles have something called a battery management system, or BMS. This monitors the battery’s charge, temperature, and is a computer that can calculate how much farther you can drive before recharging. Most battery management systems do on-the-fly calculations to get efficiency and range estimates - for example they use the last hour of driving, or the last trip since charge - to estimate metrics for future trips. And, the Chevy Bolt is no exception. We have found the Bolt’s BMS to be highly responsive to external factors and the on-board range estimates vary a lot.
Some electric cars are more sensitive to the way that external factors affect available range than others. While things like driving behavior and outside temperature affect all electric cars, we have found that the rated range seen on-board Bolts vary quite a bit.
A Chevy Bolt will show a reduced range on its dashboard when the climate deviates from around room temperature. This chart shows the reported range at full charge (y axis) by daytime temperature (x axis) in degrees Fahrenheit. This is all-new, original data that Recurrent has collected from its research drivers and it demonstrates how Bolt’s range estimates are highly dependent on outside temperature.
Notice how anticipated range decreases at both ends of the chart. While the Chevy Bolt is more impacted by cold temperatures, drivers should also expect decreased vehicle range at temperatures above 90 degrees.
Long-term: How does range decrease over time as the battery degrades?
We all have our strengths and Recurrent’s strength is understanding EV batteries! For the last year we have been helping EV owners monitor their car batteries, and this chart shows the beginning of our battery degradation monitoring for the Bolt electric vehicles in our community. This data is live from Recurrent’s battery tracking research, and as such, represents real vehicles.
This is a plot of all the Chevy Bolts we follow with their range as a function of odometer reading. Although odometer matters less for the holistic health of an EV than it does for the health of a gas powered car, it can be used as a good proxy for age when exact manufacture dates are not known. You can see in this plot that there is an initial drop off in range when the car is new. This is expected in all lithium ion batteries and means that the battery chemistry is settling into its long-term state. After this initial drop, range estimates (and battery health) tend to fall into a steady but slow decline.
The chart above is easy to understand, but belies the true complexity of battery degradation. While the lines above are moving averages of our research fleet, the plot below shows the full spectrum of data points we see with our Bolts. There is a lot of variability between individual vehicles, which is why we recommend registering your car for monthly battery reports or requesting a certified battery report from Recurrent.
What kind of lifestyle is best suited for the Chevrolet Bolt?
A Chevy Bolt, even a used Bolt that is several years old, has a competitive pure electric range. Depending on the year, its 60-66 kWh battery can consistently average over 200 miles when charged to 100 percent.
Estimated range is not influenced by year or version (trim) of a Chevy Bolt. While a Tesla Model 3 may vary due to battery size or motor selection, Chevy Bolt only uses the front-wheel-drive motor. This can make it easier to determine if a Bolt is right for you and your lifestyle.
For the Data Enthusiasts
Love data and electric vehicles? So do we!
Each day hundreds of data volunteers share anonymous data with their fellow Bolt drivers. Recurrent consolidates it each month and uses machine learning to provide those drivers with battery monitoring reports. If you drive a Bolt, you can sign up for battery reports, too.
Our largest concentrations of Bolt drivers are on the west coast, with New York and Massachusetts the next most populous states for this vehicle.
This means that warm and temperate climates are disproportionately represented in our raw data. While we resample our data points to give more accurate representation of all geographic regions, Bolt on-board range estimates are particularly sensitive to external factors, such as temperature.
With a more in-depth view of our Bolt population, it is easy to see where we can fill in our fleet.
One of the big concerns people have about switching to EVs is that an electric car won’t have the range for daily life. However, the average daily mileage of any sort of car is only around 30 miles. The same is true for the Chevy Bolt. This plot below shows the daily driving distance for the entire Bolt population with each blue dot representing an individual vehicle.