When a Tesla driver steps their foot out of the accelerator, their EV stops. This feature is known as regenerative braking.
In other words, the motor produces the resistance needed to stop the car. As it generates resistance, it also produces electrical energy, which is then stored for later use.
This energy capture process allows Teslas to recover up to 30% of the energy, which would otherwise be lost during braking.
As such, if you’re driving in heavy traffic or in stop-and-go conditions, using regenerative braking can be a great way to maximize energy recovery and extend your vehicle’s range.
The feature comes with two setting options:
- Low Mode – Considerably reduces the amount of energy captured during braking and provides a more traditional braking experience.
- Standard Mode – It is the default setting and is designed to provide a balance between energy recovery and a traditional braking experience.
Why Regenerative Braking is Important
While regen braking is a bit harder to adapt to for new Tesla owners, here are a few reasons why Tesla included it in its EV models:
- Energy Efficiency – As mentioned above, regenerative braking helps to convert the kinetic energy of the vehicle’s motion into electrical energy, which can be stored in the battery. This helps to reduce energy consumption and extend the vehicle’s range.
- Reduced Wear and Tear – Since you don’t have to use the traditional braking system, the feature reduces wear and tear and extends the life of the brake pads and rotors.
- Smoother Driving Experience – This feature allows you to ride on one peddle, making your driving experience much smoother. You will also be able to save on energy, especially at routine stops.
Can You Turn Off Regenerative Braking on a Tesla?
Unfortunately, Tesla does not give you the option of turning off your car’s regenerative braking system. In fact, all cars made from 2021 onwards do not even allow you to change your regenerative brake strength.
With older vehicles, you could set your regen braking to Low whenever you don’t fancy abrupt stops and starts. With newer cars, the feature is permanently set to Standard and you have no way to change it.
Tesla did not explain why they removed the Low option, which has only led to wild speculations. As a countermeasure, some drivers have found that applying a feather touch on the pedal, instead of removing your entire foot, works like the Low option.
Notably, there are certain circumstances where the regen braking will turn off on its own, or not work as it should. These include:
- When the battery is already fully charged – Regenerative braking is typically designed to capture the kinetic energy of the vehicle and convert it into electrical energy to recharge the battery. However, when the battery is already full, there is no room to store additional energy, so the regenerative braking system will not activate.
- When the battery is too cold – If the battery temperature is too cold, the regen braking system may be disabled until the battery has warmed up to the optimum temperature. This is because the cold temperature can reduce the efficiency of the battery, making it more difficult to store energy.
- When the car is in neutral -Regenerative braking requires the electric motor to be engaged in order to capture energy. If the car is cruising in neutral, the motor will disengage, and regenerative braking will not work.
- During high-speed driving – While regenerative braking in a Tesla can slow down the car significantly, it is not designed to stop a car at high speeds. This is because the kinetic energy of the car is much greater at high speeds, and regen brakes alone may not be enough.
- During an emergency – In an emergency situation, regenerative brakes may not be able to slow down the vehicle quickly enough. As such, you will need to engage the normal brakes to bring the vehicle to a stop.
In the above situations, you may want to use normal brakes instead. Simply go to the Pedals and Steering menu on the touchscreen and check “Apply Brakes When Regenerative Braking is Limited”.
It is impossible to completely turn off regenerative braking in Teslas. On the upside, the feature offers several benefits, which outweigh the cons by far.
For instance, regenerative braking can be an indispensable safety and energy-saving feature once you get the hang of it.