Less gas, more pie!

Less gas more pie

By: Ross Holter, FEC Director of Energy & Member Services

A couple of weeks ago, several of us here at Flathead Electric decided to take our all electric Chevy Bolt to a conference in Coeur d’Alene. I instructed my wife and colleagues to pack light for a couple of reasons: first, we were all piling into a pretty small car, and second, I wanted to make sure we didn’t run out of juice! When we loaded up the car, it was fully charged and the indicator showed that, with average driving conditions, we most likely had 233 miles of range available (which can change based on a multitude of factors like driving technique, terrain and outside temperature). With our final destination 204 miles away, our plan was to stop for pie and shopping at the Silver Dollar Bar in Haugen which is 127 miles from Kalispell. While there, we could charge up a bit, just in case we needed the extra range (during my trip planning I checked Plugshare, which lists available EV charging stations, and found that they have two chargers available).

The temps were mild, so we were able to use just the fan for cab comfort. This was part of the plan because excessive heating or cooling is one factor that can reduce range. Being cautious, I also drove pretty slow on the trip over… about 60-65 mph because of a bit of range anxiety (again, range can be depleted more rapidly at higher speeds). But, as we rolled along, it was soon apparent that the estimated range was very accurate.

Charging at the Silver Dollar
Charging at the Silver Dollar Bar

Our leisurely stop at the Silver Dollar Bar for coffee and pie (we all had cherry… à la Mode) was most enjoyable. And, when we hopped back in the car we had gained about 40 miles of additional range. This took a little over an hour on one of the two Clipper Creek chargers that are available there for free charging. When we rolled into the hotel, we had about 60 miles to spare… easy as pie!

We had 94 miles of range left when we arrived at the Silver Dollar Bar.
After a little over an hour of charging, we had 129 miles of range, and bellies full of pie.

Numerous chargers were available at our hotel in Coeur d’Alene, so we were fully charged for our return trip. By now, my range anxiety had relaxed into what I refer to as “range curiosity.” I knew we would have no problem making the distance, so I sped up and drove closer to the speed limit. However, the age old tradition of pie at the Silver Dollar was honored once again, and we made another stop — this time a little quicker one that only gained us about 25 miles. When we arrived back in Kalispell that evening, we were down to just 30 miles of range (likely due to a combination of faster driving and less charging), but still… no worries!

Some observations:

  1. Driving an EV is fun! They are really quick and super quiet. It was also fun to watch the range change as we used up energy to climb a pass, and then watch as the battery gained it back as it regenerated energy going down the other side.
  2. The economics are great as well. Using the Bolt’s e-mileage of 110 for the highway our electricity use was the equivalent of 3.7 gallons of gas. At $3.00 per gallon, our entire trip cost  an equivalent of $11.10. (But, keep in mind our charging at the Silver Dollar and the hotel was all free!)
  3. Stopping for pie while traveling is a good recipe for a fun and more relaxed trip!