The 2014 Cadillac ELR range-extended electric car will have a unique feature to help improve its efficiency: a button that the company calls "Regen On Demand." The function is operated by holding one of two paddles behind the car's steering wheel, and forces the powertrain to recharge the battery pack with power regenerated from the electric motor.
The idea is for Cadillac ELR drivers to proactively decide to capture energy when they are already slowing the car, as using Regen On Demand will apparently decelerate the ELR in a similar manner to changing down a gear in a conventional car. Drivers descending a hill, approaching a tight turn, or coming up to a red traffic light could pull the paddle to capture excess energy in the battery pack. Releasing the paddle allows the ELR to coast just like a normal car. Regenerative braking turns the drive motor into a generator, allowing it to convert the car's kinetic energy into electrical energy in the battery.
"Pulling back on the paddle to slow down… provides a more engaged, satisfying driving experience, and when you consider the added benefit of re-capturing energy, it's also a smart thing to do," Cadillac ELR chief engineer Chris Thomason said in a statement.
The 2014 Cadillac ELR is based on the Chevrolet Volt, but with a more powerful electric motor (207 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque). A T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack located below the rear seats and cabin floor provides enough power for about 35 miles of all-electric driving. As in the Volt, a 1.4-liter gasoline engine kicks in to recharge the battery for extended trips once the battery charge has been depleted.
The two-door Cadillac ELR has upscale styling derived from other models, like the CTS coupe, as well as a luxurious interior with leather and wood trim, 20-way power seats, and carbon-fiber trim. It is expected to go on sale sometime next year for close to $70,000.