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Chevy Bolt EV Battery Health After 100,000 Miles

All-electric vehicle batteries degrade and lose capacity over time. My Chevy Bolt EV just passed 100,000 miles, so let's look at how much capacity it's lost in three years.
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I recently passed the 100,000 mile mark on my 2017 Chevy Bolt EV, and I provided a quick update on my YouTube channel where I covered a number of topics about how well my Bolt EV was holding up. One of the topics I discussed was battery degradation, but I only touched on the subject because I don't think that a video is the best medium for communicating that type of information.

I first published a battery health update video at 70,000 miles, which set the stage for my 100,000-mile update, but many of the background details are better discussed in a written article format. At 70,000 miles, I had calculated that my Bolt EV had lost about 8% of its original capacity; however, that was with a caveat: I had encountered a discrepancy in my data that occurred around the same time that I had taken my Bolt EV in for a battery management system (BMS) update. By 100,000 miles, the data appeared to verify that the 8% battery degradation I measured at 70,000 miles was, in fact, an inflated figure.

Methodology
My methodology for testing battery degradation is simple, but it seems to be the most effective. I have attempted using apps such as TorquePro, but the results appear highly inaccurate and inconsistent. Ultimately, I determined that the only way to accurately and effectively test battery degradation is to drive the car, and lucky for me, that's not a problem.

What I've found is that the best method for calculating capacity accurately is to actually use as much energy as possible and then compare the energy used with the reported battery level. As an example, I would:

  1. Start a trip on a full battery with a reset Energy Usage screen.
  2. Drive for at least 150 to 200 miles before stopping for the first charge.
  3. Record the energy used and the battery percentage displayed.
  4. Calculate estimated capacity by dividing kWh used by percent used and multiplying by 100.

This method provides a very solid estimate of kWh of energy available in the battery, though it still does produce variations. The closer the battery is to completely empty, the more accurate the results appear to be. However, the uncertainty of any given energy estimate looks to be +/- 1 kWh. Even with that variance, though, it was possible to build a consistent and accurate pattern of available energy over time.

The last step is to calculate battery degradation by comparing the available energy with the stated capacity (in the Bolt EV's case, 60 kWh) and any previously calculated and recorded capacities. Because I've taken so many long trips in my Bolt EV over the last few years, I tracked my available energy over time using dates and odometer readings.

Linear Decline in Available Energy
Outside of the anomaly that occurred around the time of the BMS software update, my Bolt EV's battery degradation has been a very slow, linear decline. Here is a historical snapshot of the degradation in 10,000 mile increments:
0 to 10,000 Miles: 60 kWh
10,000 to 20,000 Miles: 60 kWh
20,000 to 30,000 Miles: 59 kWh
30,000 to 40,000 Miles: 58 kWh
40,000 to 50,000 Miles: 58 kWh
50,000 to 60,000 Miles: 58 kWh to 56 kWh (Software update at ~53,000)
60,000 to 70,000 Miles: 56 kWh
70,000 to 80,000 Miles: 55.5 kWh
80,000 to 90,000 Miles: 55 kWh
90,000 to 100,000 Miles: 55 kWh

Hilltop Reserve Mode
My version of the Chevy Bolt EV has a feature called "Hilltop Reserve," which prevents the battery from charging to full (the car ends the charging session when the battery reaches 88%). Newer Bolt EVs have a Target Charge Level function that allows owners to limit the level the Bolt EV will charge to in 5% increments.

Chevy Bolt EV Target Charge Limit

Initially, this feature was provided for people who lived at higher elevations and wanted full access to the Bolt EV’s regenerative braking (it is limited when the battery is more than ~95% full). However, the other reason for not charging an EV battery to full is that a majority of battery wear occurs when the battery is filled to 100% or drained to 0%, and after my 70,000-mile update, I started using Hilltop Reserve far more often.

Unfortunately, though, Hilltop Reserve Mode seems to affect the accuracy of my available energy calculations, even when I attempted to compensate for the 12% battery that was held in reserve. I’m sure there’s some sort of formula I could come up with to compensate for it, but even without it, I still have several data points for every 10,000-mile increment.

Actual Degradation
So what is my actual degradation at this point? Right now, at 105,000 miles, I just logged another measurement on my Bolt EV that resulted in ~56.9 kWh of measured capacity, but the average measurement for the last 5,000 miles is about 55 kWh of available energy.

Based off my initial 60 kWh of available energy and ending with my current 55 kWh of available energy, my Bolt EV only has 91.7% of its original capacity, or 8.3% battery degradation. However, if GM did in fact lock away 2 kWh of energy (or simply reprogram the way the Bolt EV’s BMS calculates available energy), the number needs to be recalculated.

Rather than starting with 60 kWh of available energy, I would need to start with 58 kWh. Compared to my current 55 kWh of available energy, my Bolt EV has 94.8% of its original capacity, or 5.2% battery degradation.

Final Thoughts
First, one of the reasons I have been so assiduous about tracking my Bolt EV ownership is because I know that my driving and use case is fairly rare among not only EV owners but drivers in general. The 100,000 miles I’ve put on my car in less than three years is more miles than many people put on a car for the entire time they own it.
Over the life of my Bolt EV, it’s been through literally hundreds of DC fast charging sessions in temperatures ranging from below freezing to over 110 degrees Fahrenheit. I’ve drained the battery to 1% and charged to 100% many times. All this essentially makes me a stress tester.

Chevy Bolt EV Empty Battery EVgo Charger

Most people aren’t going to put their electric vehicle through anywhere near the stress that I’ve put on my Bolt EV, so even if my battery degradation numbers seem high, I don’t think they are reflective of the average EV owner’s experience
.
However, even if they were, let’s just think about what this degradation actually means. After 100,000 miles of driving, I’ve lost a whopping 5% of my battery range. In real-world terms, when I first bought my Bolt EV, I would regularly see over 250 to 260 miles out of a battery charge in local driving and 210 to 220 miles out of a battery charge in 70 to 75 mph freeway driving. This degradation means I’m now down to 240 to 250 miles of range in local driving and 200 to 210 miles of range in freeway driving. The former was never an issue, and with the ever improving public charging infrastructure, the latter isn’t really an issue either.

Frankly, I doubt that most Bolt EV owners will ever notice an impact due to battery degradation over the life of owning their cars.

See you next time, as I discuss how I plan my regular 1,000 mile trips in my Chevy Bolt EV!

About The Author
Eric Way focuses on reporting expert opinion on GM brand electric vehicles at Torque News. Eric is also an instructional designer and technical writer with more than 15 years of writing experience. He also hosts the News Coulomb video blog, which focuses on electric vehicles, charging infrastructure, and renewable energy. Eric is an active member of the EV Advocates of Ventura County, a volunteer organization focused on increasing the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. You can follow Eric on News Coulomb Youtube, on Facebook at @NewsCoulomb as well as on Twitter at @eway1978.


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Comments

Nice data ! Good to see that GM batteries are holding up (unlike Nissan's). This data would really help to sell EVs to the masses, showing that GM makes EVs worth owning long term (rather than some other EVs which seem to be good until the lease ends). Too bad that GM is going upscale with Cadillac EVs rather than towards affordability, and gave up on the Voltec system. Oh well.
Since 04/2013 the Nissan Leaf batteries have been outstanding for a mere 22kwh size. I know our early luzard Leaf batteries will last another 10 or 15 years on s hoy climate. My wife has a newer Leaf with the NMC532 million mile batteries. We expect a lifetime of service from them. They don't heat up like higher nickel content batteries and still zero battery fires in 11 years.
Since 04/2013 the Nissan Leaf batteries have been outstanding for a mere 22kwh size. I know our early lizard Leaf batteries will last another 10 or 15 years in a hot climate. My wife has a newer Leaf with the NMC532 million mile batteries. We expect a lifetime of service from them. They don't heat up like higher nickel content batteries and still zero battery fires in 11 years.
have a ‘17 Volt w 43k trouble free miles on it and I watch my energy screen to keep track of kw used with each charge. I also have a 60 mile round trip to the nearest town with shopping so make that same trip regularly. Hardly any traffic, some 55mph mtn road, some 65mph freeway, which means I can keep the cruise set on the 8’s and very nearly duplicate that same trip each time. The author noted the temps while charging but the biggest difference I see is with the temps while driving. Hot weather has the AC on high, a warmer battery too, cold weather means heater/defroster/lights/wipers and a colder battery. The trip is right on the edge of my range and while I make it all on the battery in ideal conditions, I sometimes have the generator kick on with between 1&3 miles left on my trip. I generally use between 14.0-14.2 kWh before the generator kicks in and that seems governed by outside temps and my right foot if I sometimes get sporty. I have yet to notice any degradation in my battery but then, it’s only 3 years, 43k miles.
Passed 98,500 today in my 17 Chevy Volt. Last week I got 67 electric miles on a commute that was 95% 70 mph highway.
The Chevy Volt batteries are THE BEST!!! Let's compare. I have driven my 2017 Chevy Volt for 90,000 miles with 87,500 electric miles. It's only slightly degraded. It used to show 14.1 kWH consumed before the Engine kicks in, now it is showing 13.9 kWH before the engine kicks in. I still get 78 miles to a full charge though, and my lifetime MPGe is 154, that includes the use of gasoline in that lifetime display from the center console. Now the Volt's battery pack is 18.4 kWH which means that during it's entire life, each kWH battery capacity has been used for 4,755 miles. And asssuming proportional degradation, it has only degraded 1.4%. A P85 Tesla has degraded 2.5% after 72,000 miles, but each kWH battery capacity was only used for 847 miles and yet the degradation is higher. Compare the two values, my volt 4,755 miles/kWH degrading at 1.4% versus Tesla 847 miles/kWH degraded at 2.5%. IT'S HUGE DIFFERENCE at least for my case.
I have a 2013 Chevy Volt with 93K trouble free miles, 82k of those are all electric. Chevy did a great job with Voltec, too bad they didn't want to lead the truck segment. They have all the parts to make a Voltec pickup Silverado/Colorado and equinox/blazer. They would be selling boat loads but they listened to the wrong people the stealerships.
Eric, great article, thank you for taking the time. The Chevy Spark EV batteries also had held up very well. Any ICE car with 105,000 will have lost at least 5% range as well. And it would be running much dirtier than when it was new.
Eric you are the reason I bought my bolt ev, we have over 17500 miles on it since july 01 2019. the best car I have ever had. my first electric car and it is a dream to own and drive. no problems at all. never want to buy another junk gas car. please keep posting your videos would like to know what you think about what gm is doing. hope you feel better soon bro, bought my for 26700 before any rebates, tesla can't say that. it really is the closet thing to a peoples all electric car. we need more cars like this that can go long range for less money,
I purchased my 2019 Bolt Premiere on May 19, 2019. I've driven it for approximately 19600 miles thus far. I live about 55 mi from Chicago. I find the car to be the least maintenance car I ever owned. My wife says they should target this car to women, because it's "JUST LIKE THE MAN YOU WANT IN YOUR LIFE DEPENDABLE AND LOW MAINTENANCE". It is a very practical car. Now to the range. This year we had a relatively mild winter in the midwest. I found the most range estimates on the coldest day was approximately 165 miles. Kind of put the kabash on taking it to Fl. We could take the chance of going to Fl anyway, but found during research that fast chargers were lacking in particular Alabama. I57 in Illinois is a fast charger desert. Destin area were we stay. has a total of 7 stations no fast chargers. This is the reason why I took my ICE Ford Ranger. I averaged approximately 22mpg. This is the reality. I was going to purchase a Tesla Model 3, but read about dismal experiences with the customer service. I trust that in the future Electrify America will just put the CCS chargers in All interstates. Longest trip I took was about 200 miles one way. and plug it overnight in a campground for 3 bucks. I have a portable Mustart 40amp Since getting my Bolt I've been averaging prior to Covid 19 about $350 to $400 per month savings in gas. Also about 37% by switching our electric service plan to hourly rate. we charge the car at home using a 50amp circuit. Much better than gooing to the gas station. I fuel up my truck about once a month. I can't remember putting in more than 25 bucks in fuel, other than when we went to Fl. My point is this. If you have more than one car make your second car electric. If you only need one car make it electric, because in the long run you'll get to enjoy your retirement more. Less stress, in your life is always a good thing in old age specially. I know this is a very long post, please accept my apologies. My only wish for you and your families is that you remain safe and healthy. Looking at the future, do you think, the possibility exists that we would be able to swap the batteries for solid state in the future. I usually keep a car for at least 10 years and sure as heck don't want to go car shopping in my 80s, that is, if the pandemic doesn't get me. God Bless and peace
I have a 2012 Volt with 83600 miles, lifetime MPGe of 194. Not sure of total electric vs. total gas, but majority is electric and only 442 gallons of gas used over just short of six years. Although the car would show 12 plus kwh being used before the generator turned on, it is now showing just 9 kwh, and then it is to the generator. Took the car to the dealer today as the 8 year/100,000 mile warranty on the battery is approaching, and I interpreted the 9 kwh discharge max as a battery degradation issue. Miles of range have been as high as 51 on a charge, and as low as 21 in the winter. GM relies on something they call Document ID: 5406682 to assert that the minimum warranted battery capacity is 33.6 Amp/hrs, and according to them, all the cells of my car tested at 3.98 volts and the battery at 37.8 Amp/hrs. They say no warranty claim, and nothing wrong with the battery. Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems to me that somewhere over 25% of the battery capacity is gone (the car would regularly show 12 kwh plus (12.4 would be high) discharged before generator took over, and on recharging using a 220 volt charger at home, 13+ kwh would go in to fully recharge a battery (I kept track for years until about two years ago when Blink stop provided charging data). So it seems like more than 25% of capacity is gone. That number is higher than what I've seen on several posts, yet GM maintains that the battery is within (its') specs.
I know an associate that had a similar Volt degradation issue. After a couple years it would no longer make his commute. Seems to be a lot of variation. He switched to another brand. I live in a hot climate.
Thinking about buying a used 1 owner 2019 bolt with 94k miles. It was a commercial vehicle hence the high mileage. Price is $14,995. Is it safe to buy one with that many miles?
I have a 2017 Chevy Bolt @~70K miles now....no mechanical problem at all! But the battery's maximum charge is not 140 miles only....I think by the time it get to 100K, I have to replace them?? Hope that batteries will be cheaper in next couple of years!
I now own 3 Chevy Bolts. Although I have only owned them now for a few months, I find them great. I use them as delivery vehicles in my business. I bought one 2017 used as an experiment, then suddenly had to replace 2 other cars, so bought 2 new 2021s. The newer models do get more battery life. I think/assume it is due to the reprogramming of the 2017 overcharging issue. I hope Chevy fixes the real problem and not just keep it limited to 90% charge, as I truly need the full range on a daily basis! But again, overall.... SO FAR SO GOOD!
It's hard to measure battery range, especially without knowing what the reserve is that the Bolt has built in. Most electric cars have eg: a 120 or 300 mile range, plus an additional 10% that isn't user accessible. Tesla unleashed that during a hurricane state of emergency in Florida through a software update. Nissan has a similar 3 to 5% of 'hidden range', that should give you pretty consistent range the first 100k miles, at which you can still say you have 95% of factory range, not accounting for a few percent of the reserve cells that have been swapped out through the software, with the bad cells. The battery degradation curve is made to look as straight and linear as possible, all until a certain point (usually ~80%), after which the remaining cells will rapidly discharge and lose power. All it takes is one time sitting still for a few months.
I have a 2018 Bolt EV. bought in Nov 2018. when i first bought it full charge was about 238 miles. the first day to work in commuter traffic i learned about the hilltop reserve. I always keep hilltop reserve on as i commute 72 miles a day in stop and go traffic and this allows me to regen right from the house ( limited me to about 215 mile capacity). now 2.5 years and 31K miles later I regularly can only charge to 160-165 with an occasional 180 mile capacity ( i still have hilltop reserve on). I live in Phoenix and the maximum charging capacity I can get is between Dec and Feb. In the summer the A/C can use 5-6KW ( tested at a light with a/c on max and off, delta in usage). I haven't taken any actual numbers for capacity. but if i use the 238-180/238X100= 14.7% change since new. I need to take capacity number each month and average monthly temp to correlate the temperature dependency.
2017 Chevy Bolt. Big Island, Hawaii. Took it in for brake service 2021.07.01 since the driver's side brake pad was sticking. While there (De Luz Chevrolet, who outsources service to Big Island Toyota in Hilo), had recall work done and asked for an annual safety inspection, which was due in two weeks. They didn't have the brake parts, so scheduled a future appointment. They could not do the safety inspection with the brake issue present. Supposedly the battery recall was just a software update that prevents the battery from charging to 100%. But, the next morning, the Bolt wouldn't start. It also wouldn't unlock with the key fob, and wouldn't indicate it was charging when plugged in to 110v charger. Had to have it towed back to the dealer ($235). They say it's the battery temperature sensor, which (of course) is no longer under warrantee (neither are the brakes, so $984 not including labor). Big Island Toyota says they cannot fix the temperature sensor because their battery hoist is broken and it will be a few weeks before a new hoist arrives. Too, they cannot provide a loaner because the rental prices are too high $300/day and they don't want to pay this much. Meanwhile, the safety inspection that is now overdue ($125 fine I believe). Bottom line, I purchased an EV with the mind that I was doing my small part in helping our planet. I was willing to take on the additional initial cost vs a carbon emitting vehicle. My experience, thus far, is that solar panels with home batteries (Powerwalls) are a MUCH better economic proposition given the relatively low mileage I put on the Bolt. I'm beginning to question whether a Bolt (or other EV) is worth it in Hawaii.
I was getting intrigued by the Bolt as a cost effective alternative to the Tesla and a better performance alternative to the Leaf. Then the horror stories about battery fires melting cars and burning down houses hit. GM's follow up didn't sound definitive, either. What's the real info on all this? While I wait for enlightenment, I'll stick with my 1998 Acura TL, still going strong at 200K miles. Gas mileage not great, but other expenses very low.
Such a highly valuable article. The other variable that I hope Eric follows-up with in time. Time is another factor the degrades batteries.