Your Chevrolet Volt Needs A Charge Sustaining Mode: Here’s Why

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2012 Vauxhall Ampera

2012 Vauxhall Ampera

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In a few weeks’ time, Vauxhall/Opel, a European arm of General Motors, will officially start sales of the 2012 Vauxhall/Opel Ampera. 

Essentially a Chevrolet Volt in disguise, the Ampera shares most of Volt’s features and, thanks to a lack of On-Star in Europe, loses some of the Volt’s remote functionality. 

But the European cousin of the Volt has something the Volt doesn’t, something everyone should covet: a charge-sustaining mode. 

Why it exists

When GM engineers were working on designing a european-version of the Volt, some cities within Europe were considering enforcing zero-emissions zones, effectively banning any car within the zone which could not operate in zero-emissions mode on demand.

Often one of the given explanations for why some Hybrids have an electric-only or EV button, the future possibility of zero-emission zones in cities led GM engineers to develop the charge-sustaining mode. 

What it does

Offered as an additional driving mode alongside the Standard, Sport and Mountain modes found on a U.S. market Chevrolet Volt, the charge sustaining, or Hold Mode, allows the driver to choose when to use the 10 kilowatt-hours of available battery power to move the car along.

2012 Vauxhall Ampera

2012 Vauxhall Ampera

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This makes it possible to force the car to use gasoline only while on the freeway, saving its entire battery charge for use in stop-go city traffic. 

Essentially, Hold Mode allows the Ampera driver to better control the tailpipe emissions of their car, as well as improve gas mileage when driving on mixed roads. 

Europe only, but there’s hope

The absence of Hold Mode in U.S. market Chevrolet Volts, like the missing EV button in 2004-2009 Toyota Priuses, hasn’t escaped the attention of Volt fans in the U.S. 

In much the same way as the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf have benefited from after-market user ‘hacks’ designed to give drivers features missing or desired on U.S. market cars, we imagine it won’t be long before an enterprising electronics engineer or hardened fan figures out an unofficial way of forcing U.S. market Volts to enter into Hold Mode. 

2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

Enlarge Photo

Of course, depending on where you are, carrying out such modifications could potentially cause damage to your car or invalidate warranty, but since both cars are made on the same production line we guess the difference is down to software not hardware. 

But GM itself might be working to bring Hold Mode to the U.S. At a recent Volt owners’ breakfast meet at the New York Auto Show, at least one owner petitioned Chevrolet to add the feature on U.S. cars. 

Chevrolet officials present assured the owner that the company was considering doing so, but that the process would require discussions with the EPA before it could make Hold Mode available to U.S. customers. 

Do you have a Volt? Would you like to make use of Hold Mode? Let us know in the Comments below. 


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Comments (23)
  1. Hold mode is a natural for the Volt. This would allow the volt to help reduce loads on parking garage exhaust fans, to allow police to plan surveillance
    or keep noise down in sensitive areas. If Chevy would add scars so you could add extra batteries to adjust range, or sell the Volt in a RE (Range Extended) mode,

  2. "What it exists"
    I assume you mean "Why". A few other typos, as well.

  3. You bet that it would be very nice for me !! I'm living about 100 miles from Montreal. I go there for work at least once per week. If I could have a «hold» mode on my VOLT, I could use the EV mode when arriving in Montreal and help against smog. Do anyone know if the EPA rule preventing the VOLT to offer the HOLD mode is applied to Canada (I think it's Transport Canada who's the authority there) ?

  4. You can accomplish the "Hold" mode already on all Volts sold in the U.S. and Canada to date by doing this: (1) Engage Mountain Mode when you depart your destination, (2) When entering the desired city area, switch away from Mountain Mode to Normal Mode. Now the car will run for at least approximately 12-15 miles on pure electric. Problem solved.

  5. Not really the same thing. For one, in cold conditions the Volt will run on battery first, which uses battery power to provide heat, rather than allowing you to warm the car with the waste heat from the ICE. Hold will allow that.

  6. Great point, I thought the exact same thing after driving the Volt this winter. I'm still not convinced the heat system definitely uses ICE waste heat rather than still using the electric heater. I hope I'm wrong, because then using a hold feature to heat up the car during the winter is exactly what's necessary and would provide the Volt much longer EV range in cold climates.

  7. Anton is right. Gaming mountain mode in this fashion (where there's no mountains) will essentially sustain a 10-20 mile charge(~23%SOC) and preserve it for later use. So while not identical, it works well enough for most people.

  8. How come the Volt didn't win the 'World Car of the year 2012' award like the Volkswagen's Up did, , or the 'Green Award' like Mercedes-Benz S 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY did, ? Maybe GM should check that out and then explain why they had to fake the 2011 Car of the Year award. Maybe the Volt is not as wonderful as the infamous are claiming.

  9. @James: Please explain what you mean by GM having to "fake" the 2011 Car of the Year award? That's a fairly serious charge, since the jury for that award prides itself on its independence.

  10. JD Power did not award Volt the 2011 car of the year award as GM's advertisement on this site indicated that the Volt was the 2011 car of the year, so who made the Volt 2011 car of the year?

  11. The Volt was awarded the 2011 Car of the Year award at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2011 by a panel of 49 automotive journalists from all forms of media--online, print, broadcast and radio--representing the U.S. and Canada.

    That hardly seems like GM "faking" anything as you claim.

    More details here:

  12. James, we all realize that your intent is to blindly attack and not to be rational, but for future reference, more than one automotive award is given out each year. As difficult as it seems for you to understand that 2011 and 2012 are different years and different sources give different awards, please try to figure things out and not go back to your usual "make-it-up-as-I-go-along" attacks. We're all dumber and dirtier after your baseless, nonsensical comments.

  13. 'sammater James? No peep from you after your lies and bs are called out?

  14. I can see the benefits of this hold button for using it on long distances. Hopefully GM will put it on the new Volts or maybe they can do a software upgrade for existing Volt owners.

  15. I requested that from my Volt Advisor back in August 2011 and was hoping it would happen with the September software upgrade. It really is just a software upgrade and should be made available to 2011-2012 Volt owners.

  16. Especially because many of us early adopters are using our Volts to convince people of the viability of electric propulsion. I've taken several trips to demonstrate the Volt, only to have very little EV range left when the event took place. By the time someone important took the wheel, the car was in charge sustaining mode.
    Not so impressive to that local Fox News reporter!

  17. You can fix that with "Mountain Mode" any time you want.

  18. Mountain mode is a far cry from a charge sustaining mode. It does not "fix" the problem. EV range depletes very quickly at highway speeds in the mountains where I live and demonstrate the vehicle. Using mountain mode to recharge the battery for a few EV miles is inefficient, it's is better to smartly use a charge sustaining mode. When you live in wide open spaces where towns are far away (which is why I need a Volt) A charge sustaining mode is invaluable.

  19. Yes, it makes a whole lot of sense, while you're at it, I'd trade my Volt in for the Ampera (as long as it has OnStar)...the styling is a bit nicer than the Volt.

  20. @Dan - Sadly, OnStar is missing from the Ampera. It's a real shame, because it really cripples some of the Ampera's nicest potential features.

  21. More modes. More choice. That's America to me.

  22. I have 2011 Chevy Volt. I too yearn for addi8tion of "Hold" mode to my driving style choices. This is a major omission in the Chevy Volt. Seems like a software issue that can be easily addressed by a simple download via OnStar?

  23. I would like the Hold Mode on my 2012 Volt. Along with saving Battery for use it the city, in cool weather (say below 45 deg F) it would be nice to be able to use the ICE to help warm the cabin.

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