Don’t Own A Tesla? How A Chevy Bolt Owner Takes Road Trips

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Chevy Bolt charging in a parking space
As an EV driver and public EV charging enthusiast, my reaction to the largely unflattering article published by the New York Times about the obstacles of all-electric destination travel oscillated between heartfelt agreement and vehement opposition. Were they spot-on about the challenges of relying solely on public fast-charging for long-distance road trips? Undeniably. Had they failed to identify some of the creative ways experienced EV drivers incorporate charging into our destination travels? Absolutely.

I am the proud owner of an all-electric Chevy Bolt, and have joyfully driven it thousands of miles in all directions from my home in Berkeley, California. In fact, after some destination charging trial-and-error, I have learned to relish new opportunities to push my Bolt past its 240-mile range limit. In this blog post, I’ll share details of my best and worst EV road trip experiences, from which I’ve learned how to quell my long-distance range anxiety.  

Rookie moves – my first EV road trip

Just 2 days after picking up my new Bolt EV from the dealership, I loaded 3 of my closest friends into the car and embarked on a 450-mile round-trip drive to the town of my alma mater, San Luis Obispo. As we neared the midway point to the Central Coast, when both the car and its passengers needed our first pitstop, we pulled into what I soon learned to be my favorite mid-trip Level 3 fast-charging location: a grocery store. In the time it took to use the restroom, eat our deli-counter lunches, and stock up on all the goodies we needed for the weekend, our car was back to 80% state of charge, enough to finish our journey. 

Time spent solely charging my EV: 0 minutes. 
Lady charging car

Once we arrived at our weekend destination in downtown San Luis Obispo, however, the blissful ease of our EV road trip came to a screeching halt. First, we tried plugging the car into a 110V outlet near the front porch. Yes, the trickle charge would have taken over 2 days to fill the car up, but we were on vacation in a very walkable town, so we had that kind of time. Unfortunately, we quickly learned that this circuit on the old house wasn’t grounded, so the charger wouldn’t turn on. Fail!

Next, we considered plugging in at one of the many public Level 2 (240V) chargers in downtown San Luis Obispo. That didn’t work either. Although the parking structures had available Level 2 chargers, overnight parking was prohibited. As a last resort, we hit up the local shopping center’s fast-charger on our way out of town. 

Time spent solely charging my EV: 60 minutes.

This first EV charging road trip experience taught me the valuable lesson that making plans for convenient Level 2 destination charging is equally important to making plans for convenient mid-journey fast-charging. This was corroborated by the responses to EVmatch’s 2018 customer survey question: “At which locations are you most likely to use a reservable EVmatch charging station?”

78% of the respondents stated that they were most likely to use a reservable EVmatch charging station near a lodging destination on a road trip. Had there been EVmatch hosts in San Luis Obispo back when I took this trip (as there are today), they would have been the ideal no-time-wasted solution for our destination charging dilemma.

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