Paddles mounted to the steering wheel aren’t only for shifting your high-performance exotic. In the 2017 Chevy Bolt electric car, drivers can use a paddle to activate regenerative braking, and even switch to a special mode that lets them use just one pedal to drive.
Just like the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid, the Bolt has a paddle that activates Regen on Demand. When drivers hold the steering wheel-mounted paddle, the car’s regenerative braking system is engaged. That slows the car and charges the batteries without activating the brakes. For more aggressive regen, which will slow the car so much that Chevy says owners can drive in stop-and-go traffic without using the brake pedal, drivers can put the transmission in Low and then activate the paddle.
Chevy officials like to tout this as a fun-to-drive feature for the Bolt, which must be the only time we’ve heard an automaker promise driving excitement from slowing down your car. But the much more important gain is in range. By following the ‘one-pedal driving’ method in urban traffic and using the Regen on Demand function, engineers estimate Bolt owners could improve their driving range by about five percent. The Bolt is estimated to have a 200-mile (321-kilometer) driving range on a single charge of its 60-kWh battery pack.
The 2017 Chevy Bolt goes on sale by the end of this year for $37,500, before any applicable tax credits. Chevy is also planning on offering autonomous versions of the Bolt for ride-sharing company Lyft; we’ve already spotted prototypes of those models testing in San Francisco.
Gallery: 2017 Chevy Bolt offers regenerative braking via paddle
DETROIT – The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV will offer drivers a customizable one-pedal driving experience that allows for maximum total vehicle range.
One-pedal driving combines the highest available level of regenerative braking, which captures otherwise lost energy from deceleration and sends it back to the Bolt EV battery pack for the greatest total vehicle range. Along with additional software controls, regen braking allows the driver to stop the vehicle without using the brake pedal in certain driving conditions.
“Bolt EV customers who want an engaging driving experience will love the thrill of one-pedal driving,” said Bolt EV Chief Engineer Josh Tavel. “They will be able to tailor the vehicle to their preferred driving style and maximize their range.”
Progressively stronger levels of regen braking are employed in all Bolt EV driving through a series of four driver-selectable modes:
Operating in Drive and easing off the accelerator.
Operating in Drive and using the Regen on Demand paddle on the back of the steering wheel.
Operating in Low and easing off the accelerator.
Operating in Low and using the Regen on Demand paddle in tandem.
Number 1 provides the lowest level of regen braking and requires the use of the brake pedal to bring the vehicle to a complete stop. Numbers 2-4 are progressively stronger one-pedal driving modes that in certain driving situations allow a driver to stop the vehicle without using the brake pedal. (One-pedal modes do not eliminate the need to use the brake pedal altogether, especially in emergency situations.)
Using a vehicle simulation model, engineers compared regen performance on a testing cycle that simulated heavy stop-and-go traffic in Drive and another using one-pedal driving while in Low and also the Regen on Demand paddle. The engineers found that the one-pedal driving can add up to 5 percent of range to the Bolt EV.
During interviews with Chevrolet, EV enthusiasts expressed their desire for one-pedal driving capability. Bolt EV owners, much like Chevrolet's enthusiastic Volt customers, will enjoy using regen braking to maximize every charge of the vehicle’s 60 kWh battery pack. The Bolt EV is GM-estimated to provide 200 miles or more of range.