Have you heard of the single-foot Tesla driving technique taking advantage of regenerative braking? Regenerative braking is a way to get energy back into the battery while slowing down the car.
Find out why this is beneficial and how it works in your Tesla. Will this diving technique suit you? Since you cannot turn off regenerative braking, you should know how to use it to your advantage.
What Is Regenerative Breaking
When we put our foot on the accelerator of a car, we make it go faster. When we remove it from the accelerator, the engine stops sending torque to the wheels. At some point, if you do not push the accelerator again, the car will continue to slow down until it stops.
In a traditional gas-powered car, the kinetic energy that makes the wheels turn is wasted. In an electric vehicle, the electric motor can switch into generator mode and take advantage of the spinning of the wheels.
The kinetic energy gets recovered and sent back into the battery. That is known as regenerative braking.
Since the wheels spin and supply energy to the motor working as a generator, the car slows down faster than it would in a traditional vehicle. The car doesn’t come to an instant stop like a hard brake, but it slows down significantly as if you went down a transmission gear.
You still have to use the break while driving a tesla but only for a full stop or if you almost missed a turn. The rest of the time, you can rely on regenerative braking for red lights or stop signs.
Some drivers describe it as if there were infinite lower transmission gears, and the car smoothly transitions through each of them. It isn’t easy to describe to a tee, so we recommend trying it out.
You’ll get a good idea of how it feels from a driving perspective once you drive yours or a friend’s Tesla. It activates whenever you lift your foot off the accelerator.
It’s easier for people with experience driving manual transmission cars to get used to regenerative braking. People who have only driven automatic cars will be unfamiliar with the sudden, however smooth, transmission drop when they lift their foot off the pedal.
Once you master regen braking, you can drive only using the accelerator paddle. That’s the single-foot tesla driving technique.
Does Tesla Have Regenerative Braking
Regenerative braking isn’t something new. It has been around in electric vehicles for quite some time. Since Tesla is the undisputed king of EVs, it has regenerative braking.
How to Turn Off Regenerative Braking Tesla
You cannot turn off regenerative braking in a Tesla. Most electric vehicle manufacturers provide options on the strength of regenerative braking. The option you choose decides how fast the car decelerates upon you lifting your foot off the accelerator.
In older Tesla vehicles, there was the option to change the level of regenerative braking. There was a standard and a low setting.
The low setting makes the experience very close to how it feels when you lift your foot off the accelerator of an average gas car. As the car slowed down, the electric motor did not use the wheels much generative torque.
That way, the kinetic energy pushes the car forward with more force. With low regenerative braking mode active, you will barely notice the extra deceleration.
This option is excellent for people who aren’t used to manual driving or have never driven an electric vehicle. However, it does make people less likely to learn how to use standard regenerative braking.
However, since 2020 newer models do not have the option to change the regenerative braking settings. Teslas now have the standard regenerative braking as the default and only setting. It was confusing why they removed this option since it’s just a driving preference.
However, many speculate that Tesla wants people to get used to regenerative braking more since it’s more efficient.
If you have an older model of Tesla, you can change the setting to low regenerative braking mode. That is how you can turn off regenerative braking in a way. However, if you have a newer model, you don’t have this option.
We recommend thinking of electric vehicles as entirely different from gasoline engine cars. The driving experience will differ, and you should embrace regenerative braking as the norm for EVs.
Do Tesla Brake Lights Come On During Regenerative Braking
Brake lights are crucial for your safety and the cars behind you. When they turn on, when you push the normal brake, the car behind you gets alerted that you’re slowing down. This convention helps the driver behind you adjust their speed, preventing them from getting too close all of a sudden or rear-ending you.
However, when you use regenerative braking, the car doesn’t decelerate as fast as it would when you use the traditional brake. Do the lights come on then? Yes, they do. The brake lights turn on during regenerative braking after a certain point.
The lights turn on once the car slows enough to match traditional brakes. For all intents and purposes, you can rest at ease. The person behind you will know you’re slowing down and adjust accordingly.
Regenerative Braking for Charging
Regenerative braking puts energy back into the battery. It increases the car’s efficiency and boosts the range quite a bit. However, you might never see a direct percentage increase. Tough luck if you are waiting to see the actual battery level rise.
Practically regenerative braking only reduces the battery’s consumption. It does not replenish the batteries. There are only certain cases where you may see a net battery increase from regenerative braking. Those aren’t reliable or easily recreated options for charging your Tesla.
Therefore, you can’t use it instead of charging while driving. Being unable to recharge your car properly as you drive is a bummer for electric car users. It is the only reason they envy hybrid car users.
People with hybrid cars can charge their vehicles from the excess energy produced while driving in gas mode. This difference is the number one reason why some people prefer hybrids over entirely electric cars.
Regenerative Braking Going Downhill
Driving down a steep hill is completely different from driving on a regular road. The principle of regenerative braking uses the kinetic energy that remains in the wheels once the engine stops sending them any more torque.
That energy would be used up fairly quickly on a normal road, pushing the car forward. It takes much less energy to push the car forward on a steep road because gravity helps it along.
That means that there is much more energy for regenerative braking. Driving down a steep hill is one of the rare situations where you can genuinely see a net battery charge increase from regenerative braking. However, for people who aren’t used to single-pedal driving, that might not be the safest option.
People have shared on social media that they have experienced a 10% to 20% increase in their battery’s charge while going downhill. This fact, however, cannot be verified since these are the claims of individuals, and no authority has tested this.
Tesla does not advertise its regenerative braking as a charging option. Therefore, they will likely not comment on the effectiveness of regenerative braking while driving downhill.
One must consider the path up the hill as well. If you drive up a steep road, you use more energy, and there isn’t much excess kinetic energy for the regenerative braking since gravity is acting against it. So the most regenerative braking will do will driving downhill is recover some of the power used going up the hill.
However, if you travel on a gradual incline and then face a steep road downhill, you might increase the battery percentage on the way down.
If you ever find yourself in this situation driving a Tesla, document the battery percentage before and after going down the steep road. Try to use regenerative braking where ever possible. That way, you conserve your battery and conduct a fun Tesla experiment.
Regenerative Braking While Towing
Regenerative braking can charge your car to some extent while driving down a steep road because of the extra kinetic energy from gravity. What do you think will happen if the car moves forward without using any battery energy at all? That is the case when you tow your Tesla.
People have noticed that you can charge your Tesla to some degree while it is being towed. Since the car is being pulled forward, the wheels revolve independently of the motor. The electric motor can use the generative torque provided by the wheels to feed energy into the battery.
It’s no different from regular regenerative braking, except the battery isn’t used to push the car forward. That means any energy from regenerative braking will only increase the battery charge.
How much can you charge your Tesla by towing it? You might have to drag your Tesla over 5 miles to see some battery increase. We don’t recommend this as a way to charge your Tesla.
However, if you find yourself in the rare situation of being low on battery and far from a charger, you can try it. It won’t be inconvenient since you’ll have to tow your car anyway. If you get towed more than half the way there, you might be able to drive the rest.
Creep, Roll, and Hold Modes
Tesla allows you to personalize your driving experience to suit you with these three modes. The creep mode lets you slowly move your car forward from a complete stop once you lift the brakes.
The roll mode allows the car to roll freely, similar to a car in neutral. The hold mode allows the car to come to a complete stop as if you are pressing the brakes.
Once you let go of the accelerator pedal, the car slowly goes towards stopping. Depending on your chosen mode, the car will react differently to the regenerative braking.
Creep mode makes the regenerative braking feel similar to driving a gasoline engine car, while roll mode feels like a manual car when you press the clutch. Hold mode makes lifting your foot off the accelerator similar to pressing on the brakes and completely changes how you drive.
Benefits of Regenerative Braking
Regenerative braking is very useful. Its many benefits lead Tesla to make standard regenerative braking the default and only setting in new Tesla vehicles. Here are some of the pros of regenerative braking.
Regenerative braking makes an electric vehicle more efficient. You put some energy back into the battery while it’s being used. The kinetic energy from the motor pushes the car forward. When you lift your foot off the accelerator pedal, there’s still plenty of kinetic energy within the car.
That kinetic energy continues to push the car forward until it stops. If you push the brakes, the energy is instantly converted into heat. With regenerative braking, you can utilize about 70% of that energy and put it back into the battery.
Brake Pad Life
You can use regenerative braking for many situations where you want to decelerate gradually. That means you won’t have to use the brakes as often as in a traditional gas car. Some drivers barely use the brakes and drive their Tesla predominantly using a single pedal.
Since you won’t use the brakes as much in an EV, the brake pads deteriorate much slower. You will not have to switch them out as often.
Some people worry that underusing their brakes can also damage them. Tesla uses the brakes automatically from time to time to prevent them from getting damaged.
Regenerative braking is an interesting feature in all electronic vehicles, including Tesla. You can’t turn off the regenerative braking in a Tesla, and newer models don’t allow you to change the mode. Your brake lights come on while using regenerative braking since it’s essential for road safety.
Regenerative braking makes your battery last longer and lengthens the life of your brake pads. Thanks to regenerative braking, you can drive a tesla using only one pedal.
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My name is Matthew, staying in Seattle, Washington. Electric Vehicles (Electric Cars & Electric bikes) caught my attention for the last few years and my love for electric cars and bikes is everlasting. I spend many of my weekends traveling to various places all over various cities with my electric vehicle (e-bike and electric car). Here I am sharing my expertise, experience, and invaluable information about electric cars and electric bikes. Check out more.