When it comes to running older software on current systems, Apple has a pretty poor track record. Last year’s macOS 10.15 Catalina release removed support for all 32-bit applications, including for example Lightroom 6 and Photoshop CS6. I am as result sticking with the prior release (macOS 10.14). Eventually I will probably have to upgrade and resort to running my old software in a virtual machine. As it happens, I did more or less the same dance nine years ago when Apple released MacOS X 10.7 Lion and remove the ability to run older PowerPC applications via Rosetta. Fortunately, at the time VMware’s Fusion product did allow running the prior 10.6 release, and I have relied on this more than a few times in the years since. I’m a big fan of Fusion as it allows one to test/experiment with all manned of different operating systems, without of course having to buy any hardware or risk breaking you main machine.
One of the excuses I used to justify purchasing the Chevy Bolt was the cost of fuel. Last year I spent something on the order of $2000 on gasoline, even with absurdly low American gasoline prices (~$3.33/gallon). True, I got around 18,000 miles out of that gasoline, but that’s still a substantial sum, all the more so considering who it is that’s actually profiting from the transaction. EV driving, I estimated, would be cheaper.
Turns out for once I was generally correct.
The great thing about EVs is they can be charged almost anywhere that there is a power outlet. True, there are dedicated charging networks which are necessary for making long trips without spending huge amounts of time, but for the most part, if your home or office has a power outlet, you’re set.
The Bolt’s battery is 60kWh. Charging is pretty efficient (90% or so), so to fill from empty, you need typically ~66kWh of actual energy from the grid. The average price for residential electricity in the US is $0.12/kWh, which means that in theory you should be able to ‘fill’ your battery for the princely sum of… $8. And with that, you can travel 240 miles.
Just under a year ago (March 2019), I did something wildly uncharacteristic and bought my first new vehicle. I’d been daydreaming about an EV for some time to use for commuting and local trips, and the combination of the growing ubiquity of Tesla’s Model 3 in the bay area and the expiration of the the $7,500 EV Federal Rebate finally spurred me to action. Fast-forward a few weeks and after finding the leasing terms not that great, for roughly the same cost as a Honda Civic after rebates, I found myself the proud owner of a white 2019 Chevy Bolt (with fast charging option).
I was initially a bit apprehensive that coming from a Honda Civic del Sol with it’s low seating position, excellent handling and delightful 5 speed manual transmission, the tall, heavy, fully-automatic Bolt would prove a dull driving companion. Happily that has not proven the case. While tall, the Bolt has a fairly low center of gravity and despite tires that are somewhat deficient on grip, it maneuvers adeptly at low and medium speeds. And of course the Bolt has something the Honda did not – instant acceleration with no noise or fuss. Many is the time that I’ve zipped past an overbearing pickup or muscle car at an intersection.
A very common question EV owners have to field is range – how far can the car go. As with most questions, the answer is that it depends on a variety of factors. To be fair, this is true of gasoline-powered vehicles as well, but EVs are particularly variable in this regard. While my experiences are based on my year with the Bolt, they should generally apply to other electric vehicles as well.
Chevy (and the EPA) both claim that the Bolt is good for 238 miles, in normal driving, on a full charge. Given a battery capacity of 60kWh, this equates to roughly 4 miles/kWh. I think this is a decent first-order approximation (I’ve had no trouble achieving it) and most EVs are somewhere between 3.5 and 4.5 miles/kWh, so the Bolt, despite it’s decidedly unaerodynamic shape, is squarely in the middle.
While the Chevy Bolt is an excellent vehicle in most respects, the truth of the matter is that it was not particularly designed for easy, quick long-distance travel. By long-distance trips, I mean those going more than 200 miles (less than that can usually be done without recharging). But for longer trips, you will usually need to rely on DC Fast Charging – a $750 option which Chevy’s programming ensures is rarely all that ‘fast’, compared to most EVs. All that said, long trips can be done – they simply require planning and a bit more time.
(This is the first of a series of posts on the 2019 Chevy Bolt I bought in March of 2019. As of this writing, I have driven almost 20,000 miles on the car and am still quite liking it)
When I went car shopping in March of 2019, I was looking for an affordable, fun electric vehicle with sufficient range to cover my daily commute and weekend trips under 200 miles. This would essentially replace the 1997 Honda Del Sol that was my daily driver. The Del Sol, a small, fun and 2-seater with a targa top, returned a surprisingly high 30MPG in my local driving, but at 280,000 miles and $2,000/year in gasoline costs, I was starting to itch for something newer and less thirsty.
Now until late 2016, battery-powered Electric Vehicles (BEVs) came in two flavors: large, expensive luxury vehicles with reasonable range (>200 miles range, >$60,000) and smaller, affordable limited-range vehicles (50-110 miles range, $20,000-$35,000). This all changed in 2016. Firstly, Tesla announced in March that their Model 3 luxury sedan would arrive in the next year, with a $35,000 price tag and a >200 mile range. Even though the vehicle wouldn’t be available for another year, it garnered a lot of attention. Secondly, in December General Motors actually shipped their second BEV, the Chevrolet Bolt hatchbac, which they had announced in February 2015, with an EPA-estimated range of 238 miles and a $37,500 price (before rebates).
As you might imagine, most people when offered a choice between getting a Chevy hatchback and a Tesla luxury sedan for a similar price, opted for the former. The Tesla promised autopilot, an excellent fast-charging network and frequent updates. The Bolt simply claimed to be good transportation. The combination of features and tech cachet meant that Tesla racked up 500,000 pre-orders before the first Model 3 shipped in July 2017, and it wasn’t until mid 2019 that the $35,000 version of the Model 3 actually became available. (In fact Tesla went so far as to hide the lowest-priced Model 3 – since June 2019 it could only be ordered by phone – it is not shown on their website.). Meanwhile GM has sold Bolts at a modest rate of 1,500-2,000/month since introduction.
September 15 – Gruben to St. Niklaus / Zermatt – 10.8 miles, +3500/-5900 feet
September 14 – St. Luc to Gruben – 10.8 miles, +3700/-3500 feet
September 13 – Grimentz to St. Luc – 6.7 miles, +2000/-4000 feet