Luxury brands the world over have been integrating paddle shifters into their steering wheels on a wide range of their vehicles. This includes Cadillac, with the current examples being the automatic-equipped ATS, 2014 CTS, and even the ELR.
Though the ELR’s electric drivetrain doesn’t have a traditional, gear-shifting transmission in a sense, the paddles are meant for something else entirely instead of grabbing gears. That’s because the ELR’s shifters enable the driver to temporarily regenerate energy and store it as electricity in the battery pack for later use with a simple tap. It’s called “Regen on Demand,” and it’s unique to the Cadillac ELR.
To engage Regen on Demand, the driver simply takes his or her foot off the accelerator and pulls back on either the left or right steering-wheel paddle to begin regenerating electricity. When engaged, Regen on Demand provides vehicle deceleration that is more than what a typical vehicle experiences while coasting, providing control and dynamic performance characteristics similar to downshifting in a manual-transmission vehicle, though that doesn’t mean it will bring the vehicle to a complete stop. As regenerative braking kicks ins, the system converts momentum to electrical power and stores the energy in the ELR’s battery pack, which provides a 295 lb-ft kick of instantaneous torque to the front wheels, and an estimated electric driving range of 35 miles, before the gasoline generator kicks in.
To say the least, Regen on Demand sounds neat, and far deeper than another flappy paddle gimmick.