EVs and Ice!

Road Sludge from Ice 

     Okay, it's been a while since I blogged.  I apologize for that, but things have been really uneventful in terms of driving our all electric Chevy Bolt.  By uneventful, I mean in terms of learning new things and/or experiencing bad things.  From an excitement standpoint, I'm still pumped!  The look on the Mustang driver's eyes last week after I smoked him at a stoplight was priceless!  Did I just say that?  What will the CEO and the Board Members think?

     However, today and yesterday have brought a little excitement, AND learning, to the drive.  Here in Oklahoma, we have ice...again.  Luckily it's just on the roads so far and not snapping poles.  Pray hard!  Driving the EV was a little worrisome at first.  Would the brakes work the same? (My Taurus had excellent anti-lock braking.)  Would the traction control, anti-slip programming work the same?  Would the Bolt's weight make it more or less likely to skid?  I mean, I was really sweating those things just like I worried about driving this electric transformer through water for the first time.

     Our bad weather began with sleet yesterday, Wednesday, which coated the roads completely.  On my drive home I tried several things to determine the weather effects on the car...safely of course!  When the road was clear of traffic I hit the brakes hard enough to induce a skid.  It didn't!  The anti-lock brakes work great.  As Forrest Gump might say, "that's good, one less thang!"  I then accelerated rapidly to see if that incredible electric motor torque would cause a spin out.  It didn't, the anti-slip traction control kicked in perfectly.  That's good, one less thang!  The weight displacement of the Bolt seemed spot on, a bit different than driving my Taurus, but only because the Bolt is a smaller car and I'm still not totally confident riding in a little bitty box.  In my other life I'm a truck man, man.

Solid Sheet of Ice Outside CKenergy Offices
     Thursday came and along with it was additional precipitation on top of yesterday's melted sleet refreezing and we have a recipe for disaster.  Fortunately it seemed a lot of people stayed home today making my drive less stressful but the ice was BAD in places.  No vehicle drives good on black ice and the EV is no different.  Stay off the road if you can.  And I learned something that I think is a BIG something.  The Bolt has two drive settings on the shifter, D and L.  The L setting is designed to enable (with practice) the use of one pedal for acceleration and braking.  The braking occurs when you lift your foot from the pedal.  Those drive motors go into a significant regen mode which puts a lot of resistance on the wheels from generator load.  When that happens, the grip between the tire and the road must be solid.  If not, it could be like applying non-antilock brakes on a slick surface.  You're immediately going to slide out of control until you let off.  The L setting made me almost wet my pants when I had it engaged on the ice this morning.  WARNING:  When driving your Bolt in inclement weather, you should drive it in the regular Drive setting.

     I don't know what settings the other EVs have in this regard, I only have Bolt experience.  Just be aware.  LEARN and KNOW your car.


  1. Thanks for sharing the update. My Volt has a similar shifter option where one can 'down shift' to engage the regenerative braking. Coming from driving manual transmissions in the past, it feels very nostalgic! IIRC, the Volt manual essentially says not to drive in 'L' going faster than ~40mph. Might be to avoid those times when you really need anti-lock brakes due to a sudden stop. I typically down shift when approaching a stop or stay in 'L' when stuck in traffic. It does help push my kWh/mile higher a bit.


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