September 8, 2016

GM has announced that you can drive the upcoming Chevy Bolt with just one pedal, thanks to custom regenerative braking settings, and GM is keen to promote this as a feature. But is it a good idea?

By its very nature, regenerative braking means that the car decelerates hard when you lift off the gas. From an energy and range perspective it’s a good thing as the car starts to collect all the energy that would normally be lost, the second you lift off the throttle. It also reduces brake wear as the retardation comes from within the motor.

Driving becomes a game

There’s an element of gamification to this, too, as EV drivers actually enjoy adapting their driving style to the equipment and getting home without touching the brakes is actually a sport in some quieter towns.

But not everybody can get to grips with this way of driving, which is why Chevy’s ‘Regen on Demand’ paddle on the wheel could cause some serious issues.

It effectively enables one-pedal driving and there are a number of combinations for different styles of driving. With the most aggressive set-up, you should be able to leave the brake pedal alone.

One-pedal driving gives you more range

That can give you up to 5% more range, according to Chevy’s own tests. It sounds clever and there are so many modes that if you really can’t handle it then you don’t have to engage the system. Human nature rarely works like that, though, does it?

People will try to master it, they will convince themselves they are the kings and queens of one pedal driving. Then, one day, they won’t be.

There could be trouble ahead

This is going to take time to get used to. It sounds like something from a video game. Unlike a video game, you can’t reset your Bolt and have another go if you’ve accidentally brake-tested the car running close behind.

One pedal driving is a convenience, we guess, but then an automatic with a brake pedal is pretty straightforward and we’re not sure how much this will add to the experience. As always, though, we’re happy to wait and see for ourselves.

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