Chevy Bolt EV Regenerative Braking Review

This video is a demonstration of the Chevy Bolt EV’s regenerative braking system and how it works. I walk through each of the Bolt EV’s regenerative braking strategies. I hope this clears things up for those who want to know. For those who already know the basics, skip the demonstration:

D Mode: 4:45
D + Regen on Demand Paddle: 6:00
D + Brake Pedal: 8:18
L Mode: 10:07
L + Regen on Demand Paddle: 11:09

37 Replies to “Chevy Bolt EV Regenerative Braking Review”

  1. Ronald Garrison

    WRT the brake lights coming on or not, I would think the thing to do would be to have them on whenever they would be in a truly equivalent situation in an ICE car. If you're sitting in your EV, with max regen enabled, but the car is stopped and on level ground, that's equivalent to sitting still in neutral. Your brake lights would not be on. If someone stood at the back of the car and gave it a push, it would roll, would it not? So, no brake lights. (Presumably, you would not be in a traffic lane when you are in this condition, so lack of brake lights is OK. If you are stopped in a traffic lane, in neutral, out of necessity for some reason, then of course you need to turn on your 4-ways—and exit the vehicle, if possible.) OTOH if you're in Park, but no foot on the brake—hmmm, not sure, but I'd probably say have the brake lights on as long as long as the car is not simply turned off.

  2. icekk007

    I have two questions: when you are in D and use the brake pedal, how can you tell the threshold above which the friction brake applies? What is the app that you use to monitor rpm, battery temperature, etc? Thanks.

  3. icekk007

    This is such an instructive video Thank you for setting multiple cameras to capture various views simultaneously. I imagine it was an effort to time aligned all the videos together.

  4. G Spawn

    TLDR: In "D" the Bolt mimicks a traditional car by using gentle regen to mimic coasting, and does not hold the car at a stop. The "L" mode feels full electric, as it does not mimic coasting, and does hold the car at a stop. The regen lever can be used to request maximum regen anytime, which in gentle driving scenarios slows the car enough to allow for one-pedal driving, including holding the car at a stop in "D". Most drivers who want the "one-pedal" experience leave the car in "L". No matter what mode you choose, the car will regenerate the same total amount of energy, as the brake pads won't be applied until you brake firmly.

    …I kinda wish there was just a software option to switch the car permanently between L and D modes, as I can see a lot of people preferring to use L permanently.

  5. Greg Collins

    Some day, when new drivers with little experience with old fashioned friction brakes get into panic situations, do you think they will have a problem reacting correctly? I'm getting to the point in my BoltEV that I only use "L" mode and virtually never use the brakes. Am even now using the paddle to get maximum regen when wanting to stop faster. However, there have been a few times when I've been caught surprised with needing a really fast stop and gratifyingly have the automatic response to jam on the brakes. I realize however, that this reaction was honed by many years of driving with only friction brakes and wonder if future new drivers will get into trouble and possibly jam on the accelerator by mistake….

  6. PerfEV

    Excellent work, very high quality! I found it while looking for details on how the Bolt's regen works and, short of spending some quality time with one, I now have a very good understanding of it and the different things involved. Thanks!

    RoD is def a cool feature, hopefully GM makes more EVs and this became one of their signature EV features.

  7. droid2084

    This is a great video explanation about the Bolt EV regen. Accurate and all the different camera angles while explaining was a great aid to answer questions. Keep up the good work!

  8. fidodidojohn

    This is a lot of good information. I've tried them all and always drive in the L mode. It is a really good way to get back some energy from the potential energy of the vehicle. My only complaint about using L mode as one-pedal-driving is that when near and coming to a stop the break lights do not stay on. Only while there is enough g-force to warn others of slowing down. I once heard a car behind me screeching their tires just before I slowed to a stop. Which leads me to believe that they did not know that I was coming to a stop because my brake lights were not on. My foot was neither on the accelerator nor on the brake. I wonder what could be done to make one-pedal-driving work safely, because it is really easy and efficient and should not require you to use the brake simply to alert others you are slowing to a stop. A car this advanced should do this for you. How does one inform GM about fixing problems like this?

  9. petronila Tom

    Nice video ! One section confused me though. Starting around minute 9:43 where the stats appear on the instruments and on torque pro: where the case being described is of D mode + brake pedal pushed. It's hard to see, but the torque pro readout for "brake tq"? (brake torque? – what's that) shows numbers jumping up rapidly from zero. Is that the brake booster maybe…if the Bolt in that situation is still within blended braking style of regen why are those brake tq numbers popping up above zero ?

  10. B. Allen

    The brake lights do come using L mode and/or the paddle….but do they stay on? I think that they do not, but I do not have anyone to follow me to check?

  11. B. Allen

    An excellent video, very informative thanks. I own (3 weeks) an '18 Bolt Premier. I mistakenly thought that RoD involved "re-generators" on each wheel of the vehicle that worked in conjunction with the brakes. If I understand you correctly RoD simply uses the electric propulsion system of the vehicle to create electricity (as you mention) and return it to the battery? The friction brakes have no other "device" attached to them to generate electricity.

  12. Leo M. Mara

    I am not sure the point was made that as long as one uses the foot brake pedal gently (start pressing on the pedal early and for a longer period of time, which avoids the implementation by the Bolt of the friction brakes until the car is almost at a standstill) the total amount of regenerated energy is nearly the same no matter how one chooses to bring the Bolt to a stop or slow it down.

    Each method, brake pedal, RoD and driving in “L” mode, puts nearly the same amount of energy into the battery. The only difference is the RATE at which they do it and that is dictated by when and how vigorously each is employed.

    My Mother always told me, I should drive as though there was a light bulb between my foot and the pedal I was pushing on.

  13. Vincent Jolin

    Im using a lot Neutral to realy coast, just D regen 17kw and sometimes is not efficient at all. 17kw slow down just too much when you need to lift and coast. All that regen way to use regen can be max out when mixing all theses modes you explian very well.

  14. James Bevan

    The regenerative breaking is not just a "nice thing to have" in an EV — it's essential — and the Bolt version of that I find to be a superior implementation to my BMW i3, for example, because the Bolt has at least three different "levels" to apply (as you've described so well…) rather than one fixed full-time level (in the i3). On a recent 100 mile round trip from my home to Mirror Lake in the Uintah Mountains, I started out with 227 miles on the "meter" and was down to about 130 after covering the first 50 miles due to a 5,000 ft. rise in elevation. BUT on the way back the regen kept the speed from going over the cruise control setting (otherwise it would have gotten way out of control)…so regen was working the whole way back down (but I didn't use the brake at all)…so by the time I got home after traveling 101 miles the "meter" showed only a net use of 40 miles (meter at 187 miles) ….and that pickup was ALL due to regen….and my miles per KWH was over 5 for the entire trip…and given the 10,500 ft. elevation I attained to, that was surprising to me.

  15. Bob Cook

    Great video, as always. My PHEV uses the brake pedal to control regen braking. Push the brake pedal down further and it actuated the regular brakes. Supposedly, you can feel a “notch” when you do this, but I never have as I try to drive gently. I much prefer a paddle, but the pedal works. Also, I doubt my wife would use the paddle, but it would be nice to have both ways to activate regen. Really super info on this topic!
    BTW, finding a Bolt at my local dealer is impossible. But, what really upsets me is that I can’t buy a Kia Niro or Hyundai Kona (or other) BEV because I am not in a “compliance” state.
    BEV or PHEV of any brand are really hard/impossible to find as dealers won’t stock any. They claim no demand/don’t make sense.
    FWIW, I went with my friend to drive a new Pacifica PHEV. Only to find out that several “must have” options (available on the ICE model) are not available on the PHEV. UGH!

  16. Ron B

    I think of of L mode as L2 and L mode with RoD as L1 like in a jeep my dad had in Pismo. I find appying RoD padde as irritating for two reasons. First that it if you are already not accelerating then its a sudden breaking experience, secondly like you mentioned that its difficult to hold the paddle while turning more than 15 degrees. My solution suggested by my so was to apply RoD before taking foot off accelerator, then you can modulate breaking by gentle release of accelerator. My second solution that I have not tried yet it to rubber band RoD paddle to be always down as it has no effect when accelerator is pressed, it trully makes an L1 out of L mode. GM please listen to me. How about a second toggle on shifter to put in L1. 😉

  17. Michael Scott

    Loved the video, though I learn something new every time I watch one of yours.
    Like for instance, I didn't know that the brake pedal also added some regen.
    I always drive in 'L' and agree, the break lights should remain on when at a stop.
    It would be simple enough if Chevy just had the software turn them on below a specific speed, say 0.5 MPH as well as on deceleration.
    I have gotten in the habit of holding the break pedal while at a stop, as one-pedal doesn't always prevent the car creeping (especially on an incline).
    I did learn one thing. If the Bolt detects it is creeping forward (not sure about reverse) and your foot is not touching the accelerator, it automatically applies the parking brake (hard). This startled me the first time it happened as it felt like I bumped the car in front of me.
    And speaking of the parking brake, why does it automatically release when you press the accelerator in D & L, but not R? Hmmm.

  18. Martin Hatch

    Thanks a lot for that clarification at the end of the video about the brake lights. Nice vids in General. Might have a question though. I'm just starting looking into EVs and I heard fast charges are not necessarily good for the batteries. When hitting 70kw of charging, does that impacts the batteries? I mean, while braking of course…

  19. John Purple

    I like to use D mode when driving long distances with cruise-control on. When you drop out of CC in L mode, deceleration is strong and sudden. I suppose I could practice matching the speed with the accelerator pedal before dropping CC, but sometimes you need to come out of it quickly.

  20. djjr50

    Could the Bolt and other EVs have regen effectively be the brakes? Could one-pedal driving be programmed to bring you to a stop even in emergencies (if you lift off the pedal, car applies full braking force including friction brakes)?

  21. Ryan Stanfield

    When I was in my Spark, I always drove in D mode. I would only switch to L if I had the intention of slowing down. The reason was that if I knew I wasn't going to slow down by much, I knew there would be less energy loss by coasting rather than applying excessive regen, just to accelerate again.

  22. kelvin d. lethridge sr

    I think you clone the General Motors video That's what I think anyone who wants to try regenerative braking just put your car in low are in 1st gear accelerate take your foot off the gas and you know what regenerative braking is real simple not complicated

  23. M

    test drove one the other day,, L mode stops you fast lol,, the screen could be better layout as the regen should be on the top as you get more regen it goes up the same as the battery does,,, the power on top seems reversed as it goes up the battery goes down so i think having it on the bottom going down as using is the same as the battery going down makes more sense

  24. EV Addicted

    interesting test! thanks do this video! I am obsessed with regenerative braking. Also interesting moment is that Bolt can accept 70kW regen but the fastest documented DC current is 55kW if i am not wrong.

  25. Sovrin

    I was hoping you would show the brake peddle using regen as so many people think that it is using the friction brakes. In my 2017 Volt I usually just drive in D and coast as far as possible then gently use the brake or RoD. It is my experience that the brake peddle doesn't engage friction brakes until the car is below 7 miles an hour or you are really jamming them on hard to get it passed 65kW. I still think coasting as long as possible in D is more efficient that driving in L and using more energy to get you closer up to the stop. Just an old habit from the Prius days.

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