The 2017 Bolt EV will have what Chevrolet calls “a customizable one-pedal driving experience” that is said to provide the maximum total vehicle range through aggressive regenerative braking. One-pedal driving combines the highest available level of regenerative braking, which converts kinetic energy from deceleration into electricity instead of heat and sends it to the Bolt EV battery pack. Bolt goes into production at the end of 2016 with a starting price of ~$30,000 after Federal tax credits. (See Chevrolet Bolt Debuts into a Moribund EV Market)
In another baby step toward autonomous cars, combined with additional software controls – and key here is required driver input – regenerative braking allows the driver to stop the vehicle without using the brake pedal during certain driving conditions.
“Bolt EV customers who want an engaging driving experience will love the thrill of one-pedal driving,” claims Bolt EV Chief Engineer Josh Tavel. “They will be able to tailor the Bolt to their preferred driving style and maximize their range.”
Bolt EV is entering a tough market segment. During 2015 the hybrid Chevrolet Volt tallied U.S. sales of 15,000, a -18% decline year-over-year. Nissan Leaf EV sales at 17,000 declined -43%. Toyota Prius hybrid sales of 185,000 dropped -11% as the electrified segment languished while truck and SUV sales flourished and the overall light vehicle market grew almost 6%.
Bolt Regenerative Braking Modes
Progressively stronger levels of regenerative braking are employed during 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 “Regenerative on Demand” paddle on the back of the steering wheel.
- Operating in Low and easing off the accelerator.
- Operating in Low and using the “Regenerative on Demand” paddle in tandem.
Number 1 provides the lowest level of regenerative 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 under certain conditions allow a driver to stop the vehicle without using the brake pedal.
GM caution: One-pedal modes do not eliminate the need to use the brake pedal altogether, especially in emergency situations.
Modeling the Range Increase
Using a Bolt simulation model, Chevrolet engineers compared regenerative 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 Regenerative on Demand paddle. The engineers found that the one-pedal driving can add up to 5% of range to the Bolt EV.
During interviews with Chevrolet, EV “enthusiasts” expressed their desire for one-pedal driving capability. Bolt EV owners, like Chevrolet’s Volt customers, will enjoy using regenerative 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.
AutoInformed on Chevrolet Bolt EV
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