Stranded in Rural VA: The Blazer EV of 2024

Stranded in Wythesville After 28 Hours

I recently had the opportunity to trial a Chevy Blazer EV made in 2024 for a full week, which ended up taking 28 hours. Unfortunately, I got stuck out in the middle of Western Virginia whilst recharging with Electrify America; the vehicle broke down before it was finished charging.

What should have been a mere seven-hour ride with two hour-long pauses in the cities of Gallipolis, Ohio and Wytheville, Virginia, turned into an excruciating fourteen-hour trial. Regrettably, I had to leave my car, which appears to be immensely vital for General Motors’ prognosis, by the highway in some rural town in America.

For an age, I have scrambled to deduce what came about here, simultaenously reflecting on what could be one the most calamitous road excursions of my recent recollections.

At the start of this tale, I was lucky enough to receive a loan of the Blazer EV shortly after its press unveiling in San Diego. Although I could not be there in person, GM’s staff happily extended me an offer for a week-long vehicle rental shortly afterwards in late December. It – unsurprisingly – was something I enthusiastically accepted: no Midwest winter can compare to a balmy afternoon in a sunny Californian state. To get the best out of the car and discover what it had to offer for charging speed, distancing, convenience, and fuel consumption, I chose to test it in a long journey from Ohio to North Carolina. Seven hours or more spent in a car is enough time to evaluate it properly.

It was the moment of truth for General Motors with their electrifying Ultium battery platform and software. Although it faced troubles with making good on its aspirations in the realms of electric integration and connectivity due to a difficult production year, GM has still bet heavily on these two elements.

Despite my hesitations, I was still eager to test the 2020 Chevrolet Blazer EV when the opportunity presented itself. It had been too long since I’d driven something as unique and impressive as what GM had promised. Needless to say, I thought that getting rid of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto could potentially be an interesting improvisation. Prior to this experiment, very few vehicles had been available to me to sample that featured the Ultium platform; The GMC Hummer and Cadillac Lyriq were never offered for examination. Unsurprisingly, every conversation I had with a user of such models yielded laments about the unreliability of their vehicles’ software, which led them to having to take their crossovers to service centers for extensive periods of time.Given all these considerations, I was still highly motivated to try out the 2020 Chevrolet Blazer EV when the chance was given. I missed the rush I obtained from driving something unprecedented and remarkable in the vein of what GM had claimed. In conclusion, while impeding the capability to access CarPlay and Android Auto may not have been industry-transforming, it nevertheless baffled my curiosity.

I resolved to explore the 2020 Chevy Blazer EV with an open outlook. Responses ran the gamut from mixed to positive, and it had even gained accolade as Motor Trend’s EV SUV of The Year. It surely couldn’t be too awful, can it? A few anecdotes do not constitute facts although, and a single disgruntled buyer with regrets plus a widespread social media post can make even the best of rides seem like the modern manifestation of the Yugo GV.

First in line, the Blazer was dropped off to my place with a battery power at around 60%, as I’d requested. Typically, autos given to reporters like me are usually charged up as far as possible or close to it, but I made it clear that I didn’t want any charging to be done prior to its delivery, so I could make certain everything was in running order before I commenced the ride – if the car had any problems with refilling energy, better to detect it here at my residence than on the way to somewhere far away.

I made the mistake of taking my trusty Blazer EV to a nearby Ultium-branded EVGo charging station, but I neglected to think about where the charge port was situated on the car itself or how short the charging station cords were. Consequently, I had to shut the vehicle down and move it around several times before I could correctly find its placement. Everytime that I alighted the car to alter its position, the Bluetooth connection would become disassociated. However, when I speedily got back inside in order to shift the car again, the Bluetooth would promptly re-establish.

When it reconnected to my iPhone 12, the Blazer EV’s stereo would blast the funky house and techno mixes I like to work to, at maximum volume. This definitely shook me out of any of that 4:30 p.m. “it feels later than it is because the sun is already down” winter sluggishness. However, this occurred four times in the several minutes it took me to park the car in front of the charger correctly.

I likely should have seen this as a warning sign. Yet, I thought it was just a humorous (if irritating) mistake, remembered it to myself, and carried on getting ready for my journey.

Early the next morning, I loaded up the Blazer EV and began my expedition about 6:15 a.m. Weaving through downtown Columbus, the car featured an impressive 95% battery charge as I eventually reached a nearby Sheetz service station for a cup of chai tea and coffee to wake me up during the long 471-mile voyage ahead. Music was essential, so I tuned in to my favourite road tunes, also downloading Soundcloud and PlugShare on the car’s infotainment system; ensuring I would have access to my preferred Google-based applications as I put the vehicle to the ultimate test.

Departing on my journey, I began by steering towards Gallipolis, Ohio for my primary destination – a DC rapid charging station. Sitting right on the banks of the signaling shape of the OH River, and cutting West Virginia off from all else, this city was my first port-of-call. Preferring to charge from around 55-60%, I knew that this decision would leave me with fewer complications while traveling since there weren’t many DC charging points along my track. This detour for some extra battery power would ensure I wouldn’t be caught unawares later.

Pursuing my journey post Gallipolis, I’d halt at Wytheville in Virginia for a full replenish. Despite weather conditions and unpaved roads, the recharge in the State of Virginia should provide me the assets to make it to North Raleigh’s Hilton where the electric Blazer could be plugged into a Level 2 charger while I had forty winks.

However, I wouldn’t even progress that far.

At first, the Blazer EV was running properly. Nonetheless, as I drove about 25 minutes away from Gallipolis, there was a sudden interruption in the Bluetooth audio, leading to the whole infotainment monitor shutting down. Although the air conditioning, warmth and sound levels were still usable, all of the symbols had vanished. The integration of Google Maps within the dashboard still indicated my exact location, and I could still track speed and range, so I figured that the vehicle was safe and this was merely a mishap.

I could not make headway without attempting to understand the source of the issue. Although there is not yet an answer for the Blazer, Lyriq supplies users with some guidance; staying in the parking spot whilst grasping the hang-up call push-button on the ruler’s wheel ought to re-establish the Google Built-In system.

Oh wow! That was successful – for around 10 seconds at least. The infotainment display announced “Android starting up…” and it didn’t waver for a short time, subsequently it (and the gauge cluster’s Google Maps) began to flicker off and on over the following 30 minutes.

I stayed put at the roadside for the next 20 minutes, browsing through Lyriq discussion forums and Reddit topics, fervently hoping there was a fast solution and I could be back on my way. It seemed most people believed if the restart didn’t do the trick, many of the Lyriq infotainment interference issues had been solved when the automobile goes into “extensive standby mode,” shutting down most of its intricate computing elements. This would normally mean leaving the locked vehicle unattended for no less than five minutes, which wasn’t viable or secure to accomplish along a hectic highway.

I weighed the possibility of yielding and calling it a day. But I was almost at my first DC fast charge station, and would still require that to get home; so it seemed the better choice to go ahead. Additionally, the reset had removed the route guidelines to the Gallipolis fast charging post. Making matters worse, I couldn’t input them again due to the malfunctioning of the main infotainment display. Racing to find a solution, I plugged in the address on my smartphone, then settled it on the dashboard, relying on the small screen of my iPhone to direct me to the appropriate DC fast charge station.

Upon arriving in Gallipolis, I plugged into the ChargePoint kiosk. My phone was then produced and I began to make calls and text messages. It was time to relay to both the Editor-in-Chief of Patrick George’s publication as well as Chevy what was happening with the car. Me and Patrick tried to decide upon a feasible approach through our conversation, yet before we could settle upon something, a GM worker phoned me. It seemed that through utilizing call waiting, revived the unresponsive infotainment aspect.

Unexpectedly, everything functioned properly again. With the certitude that this was probably only a peculiar anomaly, we unanimously concluded that the wisest move was to simply continue carrying on.

It was only temporary, but it was good while it lasted. After I left Gallipolis, I stopped off in Charleston, West Virginia to grab a coffee and some extra small change for the tolls on the Turnpike. After leaving Charleston, two and a half hours had already passed. Then it happened again; the info screen went dark, blinking intermittently before going completely blank after about twenty minutes.

I had arrived at the stage where I couldn’t back away anymore. I had come too far from Ohio to retreat. There were merely 40 minutes until my last and ultimate fast-charging halt in Wytheville. The automobile was functioning duly mechanically. I didn’t suffer any faults with its running. The real dilemma was that the worse infotainment program was not executing correctly – very irritating, and something I was planning on giving feedback over, although it wasn’t necessarily a dealbreaker.

Continuing on seemed the best option, despite the adverse conditions created by the swiftness of the highways, coldness of the air, and difficulty of the terrain. It was essential to make a stop in Wytheville for a recharge. No other options were available.

Drawing up to the Electrify America station in Wytheville, my Chevy Blazer EV was enveloped between a gleaming Lucid Air and a spanking new Mercedes-Benz EQS. With only 50 miles of range left in me and an infotainment system nonoperational, I hopped right into charger at 350 kW+. Before long, a robust 104 kW surged through the vehicle’s power unit.

To my amazement, I found that the charging progress was at a staggering 95%. I quickly finished gathering my items and took it as a cue to leave for the Bojangles. “What luck!” I thought to myself with excitement – the Blazer EV would be ready by the time I got back.My enthusiasm flared as I realized I needn’t wait much longer. At the EA station, I had expected to find the electric car recharging at only halfway. Checking my phone, however, I discovered that the Blazer EV was already close to full charge – an incredible surprise. Gathering up my possessions, I set out towards the nearby Bojangles restaurant, invigorated by the unexpected good fortune. Our meal complete, I knew that upon my return, the electric vehicle would be nearly done refueling.

Electrify America made the announcement that the vehicle had finished being bolstered. That seemed suspicious, I contemplated.

“Feels like it could be just some quirky EA thing,” I thought to myself, while becoming familiar with the idiosyncrasies of Electrify America chargers. It seemed they had done the same thing to me before while in the process of charging a few different cars. Without entering the car itself, I detached and re-connected the Blazer EV’s plug and was relieved that the charge promptly resumed– however, this time, the notification indicated the Blazer EV would only draw 3 to 5 kW. Strange, yes, but I was eager to grab some grub. Believing the electric vehicle would ramp up its speed shortly after my departure, I headed off for food.

During my 20-minute meal break, the Blazer EV had never achieved more than 5 kW. I hastened back to the charger, expecting an issue with the circuitry. Meanwhile, the EQS had concluded topping up and headed off, leaving all the power outlets in good condition for the Blazer EV to use.

I pressed the “Stop Charging” button on the now-functioning infotainment system (the incoming call woke the screen back up again!), and depressed the brake to start the engine of the Blazer EV, ready to relocate it one space to a better operational charger.

Before I could get the car moving, I glanced down at the multitude of lights and warnings displayed on the dashboard. The car’s instrument panel was illuminated like a festive holiday tree. “Service Vehicle Soon.”

The illuminated Blazer’s EV displayed a symptom of electrical fault, denoted by an exclamation point symbol, apprehensive “check motor” caution, the “check battery” warning as well as the reduced power (turtle) and charge port signs. Unfortunately, exchanging the plug-in power station failed to amend the issue.

A dodgy infotainment system is an issue which can be overlooked, yet it had become obvious that there were mechanical difficulties going beyond the failure of Google Maps. The motor vehicle was not able to achieve a charge rate faster than 5 kW on a fast DC charger, meaning I could not realistically expect to cover enough deemed necessary to arrive in Raleigh in a suitable time-frame.

The sheer number of warning indicators had me hesitant to even think about attempting to drive a great distance, let alone charging up my car. As a result, I found myself stranded in Wytheville, VA with a totally inoperable vehicle.

My experience with the Chevrolet Blazer Electric concluded at precisely 3:29pm in the town of Wytheville, VA. This was 28 hours from when I first obtained the car from the automaker. Wytheville’s singular Chevrolet dealership was the last stop of the journey, and I wrapped up my travels to Raleigh in a 2021 Nissan Titan from Enterprise with an already considerable 61 thousand miles on it – adding salt to the wound!

I’m dubious about what to articulate here. Mercifully, the Blazer EV didn’t combust and blaze down, however, it did not cope well in the actual assessment we had concocted.

It is inconclusive whether the defeat of the Blazer EV is attributable to the automobile itself, or the charging station; to the typical consumer Chevrolet is looking to entice, this individual detail doesn’t have a great deal of significance.

In spite of this, I have contacted both General Motors and Electrify America to find out just what went wrong. Both may take some time to provide an answer, but GM is sending the vehicle back to its testing location in Milford, Michigan. Electrify America is similarly analyzing my charging experience to ascertain the precise cause of the matter.

GM issued a statement regarding the incident, stating: “We have determined that some public DC fast chargers have current fluctuations, and a small number of them have higher fluctuations than others. When the fluctuations become too extreme, the sensors in the vehicle may detect it as a fault and slow down the charging rate. We have identified the cause and are addressing it with a software update that will be available soon. Our team is also working hard with multiple charging companies to make sure our vehicles are compatible with all chargers.”

Despite the public optimistic attitude, it’s no secret that the initiation of the Ultium platform is not exactly going smoothly. To illustrate this point, very scarcely can you find any of the relevant vehicles on the roads and even if there are, they are with some issue or another constantly. A Cadillac Lyriq forum had started trending where people compiled a long list of complaints reaching almost 100 pages at one point. Furthermore, TFL’s GMC Hummer EV broke down while off-roading thus needing a tug back. From my personal experience from having tried the Blazer EV, I must unfortunately admit that it does follow the same path as the two cars mentioned above.

This undoubtedly is a huge blow to GM. The EV Blazer as well as the Ultium platform for GM are highly relevant for its upcoming endeavors, resulting in irresistible humiliation with respect to this occurrence. However, we wouldn’t be doing justice if we don’t get into the details of this journey and explain it all to you, dear reader.

So while we wait, let me ask: Is your vehicle a Cadillac Lyriq, GMC Hummer, or anything from the limited number of Blazer EVs that have come out? Have you ever experienced any major issues driving, in terms of recharging or servicing? Let’s examine the matter together.

Be in touch with the writer: Reach out to kevin.williams@insideevs.com and connect.

1 Comment

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