Paddle shifters for the Model S

Paddle shifters for the Model S

Edit: seems this URL did not make it; spam filter how-paddle-shifters-have-new-meaning-electric-world-126978.html

I first noticed this in the Mercedes SLS Electric Drive video. And now it seems to be sort-of a new standard in EV's. I would really like to see Tesla adding this to the (2014) Model S. How it operates could be any kind of system, preferably user-configurable. I'd go for the Audi/VW mode, just on the left paddle. And have the right paddle be some other function that I can configure.

Even driving a 6-speed semi-automatic ICE (aged car), I already use the left paddle to downshift, and slow down.

Would you like this? What other uses could you see, now and in the future for the paddles?

MandL | 17 April, 2013

I don't understand the point. There is no need to shift at all in a Model S. You put your foot down and it goes. Doesn't matter if you're stopped or already going 70 MPH.

rlarno | 17 April, 2013

MandL, I seem to hit the spam filter trying to add the link in.

The Paddle shifters are being used to control the regen setting (and/or Sport mode settings)

Vawlkus | 17 April, 2013

Unneeded, unnecessary, unwanted, IMHO

RanjitC | 17 April, 2013

Not a bad idea being able to change the level of regen without having to go to the center stack. I beleive that high or any regen above 55mph may actually waste more power.

vgrinshpun | 17 April, 2013

This is exceptionally good feature, especially for the Performance model. The good news is that Tesla can borrow the hardware from the Daimler bin (they are partners after all, and the steering wheel already comes from MB).

Hope to have this feature available by the time I am ready to buy P85.

Runar | 17 April, 2013

But you do adjust this with the accelerator pedal? Keep it in "neutral" and no regen is activated.

Regen above 55mph? You do need the regen when you want to slow down, no matter the speed, right?

Regen level, find a level which suits you.. I dont think this is anything which need to ne adjusted while you drive? You find the level which suits your taste, and stick with it? No need to add something extra mechanical to adjust this, when it rarely is used.

brandtlings | 17 April, 2013

How many of you who want paddles have actually driven the car on a daily basis? I find the simplicity coupled with the instantaneous response most appealing, I would not want any complications... Once you learn to control the regen with the degree of release on the accelerator, you would find paddles to be redundant.

shop | 17 April, 2013

A paddle isn't needed in the Tesla since the accelerator pedel does the same function, only with variable application of regen rather than fixed engine braking. In later models, I could see regen going from a max. of 60Khw to something more like 90Kwh - that would allow even more aggressive fast cornering on twisty roads.

RanjitC | 17 April, 2013

I have clocked 7500mi on my P85. What you are talking about is good in traffic where you are concentrating on single pedal driving. If you are not concentrating the old ICE behavior kicks in and you take your foot off the accelerator and move it to the brake getting unnecessary deceleration which then burns power when you have to accelerate again. At speeds above 55mph this is a 80-100KW burn.

vgrinshpun | 17 April, 2013

Using the paddle to increase regen is similar to downshifting.

This feature should be welcomed by any enthusiast driver as it allows for an improved control of the car. It should be included in the P85 only, to match this feature to the intended audience.

One of the uses is driving in hilly terrain - the paddle will allow to "downshift" and match regen level to the downhill grade, keeping car speed constant and maximizing the regen. Otherwise one would have cycle through pressing and releasing the accelerator or even using brakes to maintain constant speed.

JaneW | 17 April, 2013

Having driven a Roadster Sport for three years I cannot imagine why anyone would want less than maximum regen. Rather than the three levels of regen mentioned in the Golf description, when you modulate the accelerator in an electric car you have infinite levels of regen.

Highway? You get more and more used to regen the longer you drive it, so you stop going for the brake after awhile. Also, cruise control with regen and electric power has a wonderfully constant speed.

"cycle through pressing and releasing the accelerator" In other words, moving your foot an inch
(just like driving an ICE car in second gear). You have far more precise control using the accelerator than suddenly going from 50% regen to 75% regen.

DickB | 17 April, 2013

I agree with JaneW, but the Model S should have one higher choice. High, Standard and Low. I would leave it on high most the time and use my foot to control the amount I want.

nickjhowe | 17 April, 2013

It would be nice to be able to dynamically control regen. Paddles or dials would work.

shop | 17 April, 2013

You can dynamically control regen already. It's called the accelerator pedal. It just takes a while to get used to lifting your foot the right amount for the amount of stopping you want to do.

Dr. Bob Reinke | 17 April, 2013

I totally agree with Dick and Jane. If my Sig.85 had the option of a high regen my right foot could modulate speed 99.9% of the time. No other regen control, or foot on the brake, would be needed.

christurbeville | 17 April, 2013

It seems some just do not understand Tesla's approach. Every button or do-dad in the cockpit of the model S has to be totally and completely justified. I imagine long meetings over the glove box button. Paddles are just silly IMHO. If the cruise could have been done away with the stalk would be even more usable. I think too many are just programmed for buttons knobs and such. Once you stop fighting it and use your right foot all those lights and sticks and buttons in other cars just seem so silly. Embrace the minimalism and you'll never go back. If you need paddles there will be plenty to choose from as MB and others head towards cockpits more gadgeted than a 747.

vgrinshpun | 17 April, 2013

Isn't it true that accelerator pedal is ON-OFF control for the regen?
The paddle would allow multi step control while the regen is turned off after foot is removed from the accelerator.

vgrinshpun | 17 April, 2013

Regen is turned off = regen is turned on

markapeterman | 17 April, 2013

+1 christurbeville

The paddle shifter idea is unnecessary.
A stronger regen setting would be helpful, but controlling the regen is best through modulating the go pedal.

flyfr8 | 17 April, 2013

paddle shifters? shift what?

rlarno | 17 April, 2013

Indeed I have not yet had the pleasure of driving the Model S, excuse my (un)healthy interest.

It is great to hear that the actual acceleration pedal is enough to control the regen braking and allow coasting on highways, 'downshifting' and even braking (and coming to a complete stop). So while there is a setting allowing you to set the regen braking to standard or low, what I gather is that you do not need to change this setting whilst driving. My assumption was that one perhaps would like to control this setting using the paddles.

Regarding the paddles (and the cruisecontrol stalk). Since the car is a computer operated electrical motor on 4 wheels. I would see it beneficial to have tactile controls on the steering wheel that you could customize (and eg replace the cruisecontrol stalk). I do not have any experience with using the touchpanel, and reading this forum, I have not encountered to many people missing the tactile feedback from physical controls. Those paddles seemed to be ergonomically very useful.

DonS | 17 April, 2013

I'm not sure paddles are the answer, but I find the strong regen can be annoying on longer trips. Any momentary lift off the pedal to stretch/reposition results in strong deceleration. Freeway traffic by me is almost always too heavy to use cruise control, so that doesn't help.

shop | 17 April, 2013

Adaptive cruise control would be nice for freeway driving...

Sudre_ | 18 April, 2013

In addition to the paddle shifter the car should have loud speakers so when you downshift it would make a really loud engine breaking sound so it'd be just like an ICE sports car.

I like the control on the pedal. (vgrinshpun )It is not an on/off switch. My wife has driven the car three times and has already figured out how to control regen simply by letting off the accelerator less.

inverts | 18 April, 2013

On a 6% grade (Conejo Grade on 101 between N. LA and Ventura) at 65 mph with cruise control it uses about 1/2 of the available regen to keep the car at speed. I can still slow down on a 6% grade without using the break! What more do you need?

The cruise control is absolutely grand. I wonder every how many milliseconds power is adjusted, but can't be too many. Just look at the power needle how it continuously moves a bit up, a bit down just to maintain one and the same speed. Same also with regen, cruise control modulates it beautifully in the green area. All for a wonderful consistent ride. Pure joy!

I love the minimalism in the Tesla. One way one *could* address it is by making one of the steering wheel scroll wheels selectable for regen levels. That would be a pure software update.

At any rate, it takes a little while to get used to modulating the right foot to control regen continuously (i.e., not 2 steps, not 3 steps, not 11 steps, but infinite number of steps). It also takes a bit of foot motor control to achieve it. Practice makes perfect. No need to clutter the MS.

jbunn | 18 April, 2013

I cant get my head around why this is needed or desirable in a car with no gears. We need to stop thinking about this in ice terms.

vgrinshpun | 18 April, 2013

It has nothing to do with ICE terms.

There is a need to adjust the level of maximum regen to fit varying driving conditions and driver preferences. This is why Tesla incorporated two settings of the regen via touch screen, and some owners expressed desire to have couple more settings: one stronger than the existing max, and another at 0 to facilitate coasting.

I totally get it that making adjustments on the screen is way cooler than using levers, but it is not practical to do while driving. The tap shifters just happen to be a proven, ergonomically perfect way to make adjustments to whatever you need adjusting while driving. I agree with inverts that this could also be done via programmable scroll wheel.

I am totally puzzled by the fury generated on this thread.

Brian H | 19 April, 2013

Can't be stronger. The existing regular setting returns as much power to the battery as the circuitry etc. can handle. The reason it doesn't "drag" as strongly as the Roadster is purely the mass of the car.

DTsea | 19 April, 2013

It drags harder at low speeds of course. Simply, it pulls about 60 kW (that's the most I have seen the green line go to.)

Kinetic energy of a Model S at 60 mph is 4 times at 30, and 16 times Ek at 15 mph, since kinetic energy is proportional to square of speed.

Since the regen pulls energy out at no more than a certain amount (just like brakes can only dissipate energy to heat at a certain rate), the change in kinetic energy at any speed is constant, so the deceleration is proportional to square root of speed.

So, at 30 mph it decelerates under regen 1.4 times as hard as at 60 mph (square root of 2). At 15 mph it decelerates twice as hard as at 60 (square root of 4).

Hope this helps.

DTsea | 19 April, 2013

ANother point.... electrical resistance is proportionate to square of current. So at high regen (60 kW) there is more loss than at low regen (30 kW) by factor of four. So... in traffic, where you need to decelerate harder, use high. On open road- where slower decel is fine- use low regen- the battery will get more of the juice, actually, by decelerating slower.

rlarno | 19 April, 2013

@vgrinshpun, Brian & DTSea: thanks for the objective comments, appreciated.

Perhaps I need to edit the title to Paddle 'controls' so people move beyond thinking in terms of the ICE age. I guess some people just read the title and respond emotionally. I understand, they have the pleasure of driving the car, while I (and many non US citizens) can only wait, and need to get our Tesla-fix here.

So as DTsea explains, there would be a possible range improvement if one could easily switch between Standard regen and low. Since the commute usually involves slow traffic (suburban roads), fast traffic (highways) and slow traffic again (city), changing this setting might improve battery energy level? Does it also have an effect on the 'wear and tear', or the lifetime of the battery?

Or have the TM engineers actually taken these things into account and are changing the actual regen according not only the setting but also the speed you are going at? I would assume not (yet) as there is a manual setting in the center console.

Sudre_ | 19 April, 2013

I think the point missed by the non-owners is if you want less regen you simply let off the accelerator less. When you get your car you will understand.
If you want to cost you simple bump the shifter down and the car goes in neutral. Hit it down again and the car goes in drive.... very similar to a paddle shifter.

I don't see a problem with making it so pulling the shifter forward switches between regen levels. I just don't see the need for it.

Sudre_ | 19 April, 2013

I also want to reiterate. There would be no range improvement if you learn how to control the accelerator and not floor it then completely release the pedal every time.... altho I admit it is very hard to not floor it all the time.
If you only want 30kW of regen then only release the accelerator the amount needed. It becomes second nature after a while.

brandtlings | 19 April, 2013

Well said Sudre_.

Sudre_ | 19 April, 2013

cost = coast

jjaeger | 19 April, 2013

Sudre, completely agree. You get very good at modulating the regen to level desired from coast to full. after awhile it becomes second nature.

Brian H | 19 April, 2013

Well said, but the opposite:

Sudre_ | April 19, 2013
I think the point missed by the non-owners is if you want less regen you simply let off the accelerator less.

That would be "more". >;p

Brian H | 19 April, 2013

Doh; I got it wrong. Less regen is indeed less let-off.


MAH | 19 April, 2013

I don't really get paddle 'shifters' in EVs. I think using the shift lever to set it and forget it would be fine.. In the Volt I drive in max regen (L) at all times and wish it regen'd even harder. In fact I wish there was no creep, max regen with Tesla style warning lights, and would stay still when off pedal (and in fact maintaining a standstill on an incline or decline).

I really am quite envious of Teslas support of owners vs. the business as usual that GM seems to be backsliding into. Early Volts have gotten none of the newer software features of later models, and that's a disappointment.

jbunn | 19 April, 2013

Sudre, thank you.

Someone asked if the Tesla engineers had considered this. Yes, it's the right pedal on the drivers side. And once you've had the car, you'll understand quickly.

shop | 19 April, 2013

I've also heard Prius owners talk about how well their car coasts. The Tesla will rarely coast because the motor is either driving the car forward, or extracting energy from the car's momentum, ie. regen. In practice, this is as smooth as silk. You might think you'd want to coast going downhill, but in reality, you want to go at the correct speed which might mean a little bit of power, or a little bit of regen, but very unlikely exactly coasting. In driving, all you do is modulate the pressure on the accelerator pedal and the car moves from powering to regen and back again with NO noticeable jerking at all. It is smooth effortless speed control.

BTW for those that like to go hard into the corners and are used to a manual transmission ICE that can downshift and use the clutch for engine breaking, the Model S can do the equivalent with its regen. Just lift off your foot more aggressively from the accelerator and you get up to 60 kW of regen braking which is just enough for hard cornering (if next year's model will allow up to 90 kW, it'll rival any 2 seater supercar in this regard).

olanmills | 23 April, 2013

"If you are not concentrating the old ICE behavior kicks in and you take your foot off the accelerator and move it to the brake getting unnecessary deceleration which then burns power when you have to accelerate again."

This is definitely NOT true for me. What does happen is that if I have to drive an ICE car, it takes me a few moments to adjust and change my behavior from my Model S habits, but I can adjust pretty quickly. Then again, I play too many video games and so I'm used to adjusting to different controls relatively quickly and internalizing them, and then forgetting about them later when it's no longer necessary to remember them.

The accelerator pedal gives you all the control over regen that you need.

olanmills | 23 April, 2013

@shop btw, I think the maximum regen braking is actually 120kW. As you can see on the guage, the major ticks increment exponentially (each tick is double the last). The last marked on the regen side of the gauge is 60kW, but you can see that the guage actually continues beyond that. If it follows the same pattern, the edge of the gauge on the bottom end, though it is not marked, should be 120kW.

Similarly at the top end, I think the maximum power draw is 640kW, not 320kW. (I'm saying that's what the gauge shows; I don't know whether it is possible to actually press the car that far).

RedShift | 23 April, 2013

Hate this idea of paddle shifters just for controlling regen amount.

First, it won't work like a manual gear shifter, it's going to be used only when decelerating.

Second, it seems to be unnecessarily complicated to operate a rather simple enough feature.

vgrinshpun | 23 April, 2013

The reason the regen is limited to 60kW is not related to the limitation of the motor or inverter, but is safety related. This is rear wheel drive car and regen is fed by the rear wheels. Applying to much braking to the rear wheels on poor traction surfaces could lead to unsuspecting drivers performing spectacular drifting maneuvers in their Teslas while going to the local supermarket.

JaneW | 24 April, 2013

"There is a need to adjust the level of maximum regen to fit varying driving conditions and driver preferences."
There is no need to adjust it moment by moment other than with the accelerator. Tesla put in the lower regen setting because some people who drive automatics expect to be able to coast some. Others really are used to engine braking. So, set it and forget it.

"puzzled by the fury" Not fury. Just pointing out it is really not needed.

I also drive (and autocross) a 1999 BMW m-coupe. I choose the best gear for the situation. I live 1800 feet above Boulder, CO so when I go to town it is downhill. My m-couple will go down at a steady 45 in third gear for most of the way. Shift to second at the bottom where there are tight turns. No brakes used.

My Tesla will go down at a steady 45 with my foot lightly on the accelerator, and lifting almost all the way gets me around the tight turns at the bottom. Same thing.

Remember, with the electric motor you have 16,000 RPMs to play with,
six or seven gears worth. No shifting needed.

billbaggy | 24 April, 2013

I have driven my MS over 7000 miles now and the regen is fine on standard for me. I like not having to use my brakes all thatoften. also helping me to keep my avg below 345 Wh/mi. But one thing I would really like is adaptive speed adjustment for the steering mode. I could use a paddle to shift the mode but would prefer the ability to set steering mode to change at different speed levels. Slower

0-30 mph = comfort,
30-55 mph = standard
55+ = sport