2011 Chevy Volt: Where's The Hold Button?
October 26, 2011
This is the interior of the Vauxhall Ampera. Besides being slightly different in terms of design (the knobs are far smaller and also in the wrong spots) there's a big functional difference here, the "HOLD" button.
This is a simple and rather brilliant idea by GM to let the operator decide when their car would be most efficient. Hint: It's not always in the first 30 miles of the drive.
Let's say I'm driving our Volt out to visit Dan Edmunds down in Orange county. That's going to involve a lot of fairly fast highway driving and then a bunch of stoplights and signs once I'm off the freeway. EVs don't really like highway speeds; they operate best somewhere right around 30-35 mph.
I know that and you know that but the Volt doesn't care. It gives you electricity first and then you're stuck with the motor the rest of the ride. The Ampera, however, is a little smarter.
Picture it: Meander through LA traffic to the highway in EV mode -- using about 2 miles of range -- then flick the hold button and suck down gas while cruising along at 75 for the next 30 minutes and then put it back into EV mode when dealing with the stop-start of a residential area in a different county.
Now, mountain mode sort of does this, but it puts the internal combustion engine at a higher load than normal to provide more power for motoring up long, steep hills. Not exactly a situation you want to be in all the time.
It's a super handy feature that GM can't bring over soon enough. They can keep those stupid small knobs, though.
Magrath, Features Editor, Inside Line