By Malika Bowling
Ah electric cars 1.0. You know how it goes – it all sounds like a terrific idea to get an electric car, but is the reality worth it? Sure, the idea of never having to pay for gas is a dream come true, especially when the country was facing gas prices in excess of $3, but once that subsided, many eschewed the tiny electric cars and went back to gas guzzlers.
And, let’s face it, the original models of electric cars had their issues: they weren’t that attractive, and let’s not forget charge anxiety. The original electric cars didn’t provide the mileage that the electric cars of today do, so you either had to plan out your route extremely well, knowing exactly where you could charge your car or just limit yourself to small trips. But that’s not what a vehicle is made for, is it? Who wants to stress over whether their car will make it to their destination, or worse, must rely on friends or family for a long haul?
Well, that’s a thing of the past with the new electric cars like the Chevy Bolt.
I was able to drive one for a full week and put it through a lot of driving to see how it would measure up. The Chevy Bolt gets 259 miles when it is fully charged. Why didn’t they make it an even 260? Who knows, but I’ll take it. For many, you might be able to travel to and from work to home during the week without having to charge it. If you do have to charge it, there are several options.
The first (Level 1) charging as you may have guessed is simply plugging your charging cord which comes with the car into a regular outlet in your home. It is convenient but the slowest way to charge the electric car. Expect anywhere for 4-8 miles per hour. Overnight I only got just about 30 miles. While that’s great in an emergency, you’ll want to plan for a road trip.
Level 2 charging – If you are going to commit to an electric car you may want to get the special plug installed in your home. These charge at 240 volts instead of 110. This is supposed to be about 25 miles per hour, but I didn’t test this. An overnight charge could get you about 200 miles if it works like it should.
Level 3 electric vehicle charging – This is the fastest way to charge. It gets about 90 miles in 30 minutes of charge. So, if you are like me and you start surfing social media and suddenly you’ve lost half an hour, you can do this while the car is charging and that won’t exactly be a chunk wasted time.
In addition to electric vehicles being able to go longer distances with a charge, technology has come a long way too. You can download an app for most electric vehicles that will find nearby charging stations, and in a big metro area like Atlanta one is not far away. There was one within four miles of my home.
There’s also no need to be intimidated as charging couldn’t be more foolproof. Pull up to the charging station much like you would a gas pump. Just remove the cord located at the front of the vehicle and insert it into the charging port. You’ll either need a loyalty card or you can pay for the charge with a credit card. Once the process starts the display tells you what percentage of charge I had and how much longer to go until it was a full battery.
Here’s what is the most nerve wracking – will I have enough juice to get me to my destination? I loved that the car display tells you how many miles you have left in a best- and worst-case scenario. In other words, I just had to look at the lower number (bottom left of the speedometer) and know I had at least that many miles before I’d have to charge.
The price for a 2021 Chevy Bolt is $36,000. It may be a bit pricey, but factor in the gas savings, and it might just be the car for you.