The changes to the 2013 Chevy Volt bring several welcome updates to an already-winning formula. The most notable, however, is the new EV Hold driving mode that joins the Normal, Sport, and Mountain modes. What does EV Hold do and when would it be useful?
In a nutshell, EV Hold Mode allows you to control which fuel source the Volt uses — the battery/electricity or the engine-generator/gasoline. Engaging EV Hold Mode tells the Voltec drivetrain to keep the battery at its current state of charge. So let’s say you’re embarking on your daily commute to work, the first part of which takes place on the interstate, with only a small amount of driving on city roads that comes at the end of the trip. Since the Volt is more efficient on the highway (40 MPG) while running on gas than in the city (35 MPG), most drivers would probably choose to save the approximately 40 miles of pure electric range for the latter part of the journey in the city. This is now possible by engaging the EV Hold mode, which has been a feature found on the European-market Opel/Vauxhall Ampera (aka Volt’s evil-looking twin) from day one.
The reason EV Hold Mode is of much greater significance in Europe is due to congestion charges that are found in certain high-trafficked cities: being able to manually control when the Volt (and Ampera) runs on electricity is part of the constant cat-and-mouse game of avoiding those charges. For instance, a driver leaving London may want to run on pure electricity when leaving the city to avoid the congestion charges often found in the outskirts of the metropolis. Then, when he gets on the interstate and onto a more rural road, he can go int EV Hold Mode to operate in extended-range (gasoline-powered) mode.
So how is EV Hold Mode any different than Mountain Mode? Both are similar in that they both aim to preserve the battery charge. The difference is that Mountain Mode will hold the battery at 45 percent state of charge, while EV Hold mode will hold the charge as soon as it’s switched on, regardless of the state of charge. For those wondering, the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera does not get Mountain Mode.
So there you have it: use the new EV Hold Mode when you wish to maintain the state of charge of your Volt’s battery, especially if the first part of your drive is on the highway and the second part is in the city. What other usage scenarios did we not mention? Sound off in the comments below!