:You can't get there from Here!
May 8, 2019
I was bound and determined to get from Rochester, NY to my sister’s in New Jersey in my Bolt about 350 miles!
In late April, my car’s upper range is now charging to 279 miles! Woo Hoo! Medium range about 237 and lower 194. So I decided to see about my trip to New Jersey. Here are some of the lessons I learned along the way.
Lesson No. 1: Fast Charges are few and far between!
I started by calling Chevy Dealerships in Syracuse, Cortland and Binghamton. None had a fast charge and they weren’t any help and didn’t offer to help me locate dealers that may have one. I downloaded apps for ChargeHub, EVgo, Charge Point, Blink, myChevrolet and Greenlots. They were not very consistent with each other in listing stations. Some listed private charging stations which were no help to me. My favorite map was ChargeHub. But I was glad I had EVgo because I that was the brand at one of my stops.
As I mentioned earlier, there is only one public fast charge available in the Greater Rochester Area. There is a Fast Charge Desert between Rochester and Albany. The closest Fast Charge to Rochester traveling East is in the Hannaford Market in Guilderland NY about 216 miles away. The closest station was the Chevrolet Dealership in Elmira NY, 118 miles away. I decided to head to Elmira to be on the safe side from there I planned to reach NJ via Route 360 South to Elmira and Binghamton, 81 South from Binghamton to Rt. 380 (bypassing Scranton) to a final stop on route 80 East.
Lesson No. 2: 90 Miles in 30 minutes is a myth!
When I got to the Elmira station, there was a car blocking the fast charge. SURPRISE! ! I went into the service counter and asked if someone could help me connect to the fast charge. The service counter person responded “well I don’t know anything about that I can’t help you”. “Well you better, I need to use it and get to NJ”. He finally found someone in the service bay who met me at the charge, with a pal who grudgingly moved the truck. He had a key but had never used the charge before. We were both surprised that getting back to 80% charge would take me over an hour. He didn’t understand that one, neither did I. But hey, it was my big adventure, and it was a nice day so I took a walk and read my book.
Lesson No. 3: You’re kind of on your own!
My next stop was the Southern Tier Visitors Center south of Binghamton. Funny thing about this stop was that you couldn’t access it from Rt. 81 South. So I had to pass it, and turn around at the next exit about 6 miles away and get access it from 81 North. It is a very nice rest stop with two fast ports. But, no one knew how to work them! The young lady at the Information Desk said “I don’t know anything about it”, they just put it in and left”. Finally, the maintenance guy and the coffee lady came out and together we figured it out! High Fives all around and I was even offered a cup of coffee while I waited another hour or so.
The last stop on Route 80 was at the Holiday Inn at Budd Lake. Here the restaurant Chef and I figured out the charging station. Which cost $13.00 on my EVgo account and took about 45 minutes.
I made it to Allendale New Jersey with miles to spare!
The trip home was easier, as I was leaving with a full charge and went directly to Binghamton via Route 17. From there it was back to the Elmira Chevrolet and home. Only two stops with 50 miles left.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my Chevy Bolt – and the idea of no emissions! However, I don’t think Chevrolet supports this car. I couldn’t do this trip on a Sunday or after dealership hours. It is also my experience that neither the salespersons nor the service people know anything about the car. When I bought the car I was told it would be no problem charging on the go. Seeing EV chargers around town I believed him. Later I learned that the EV chargers we see at libraries and municipalities usually are slow chargers, meaning they will charge from 5-12 miles an hour. Honestly I don’t even see the point of these as you would need a few hours at least to get the mileage it took to get there.
Finally, being a proud optimist, I do believe in electric cars. I hope that in the future the companies will agree on a universal connector, inform their sales people who can advise buyers of the pros and cons of their vehicle.
Until then, I will continue to enjoy the adventure!