A show-stopper for my eventual Tesla ownership...

A show-stopper for my eventual Tesla ownership...

I've followed Tesla from its early days when the Roadster was first introduced.
My enthusiasm has been steadily solidified.
I was 110% absolute that the model S Performance will be my next car.
...That is until I was "driving home" after a "beautiful" test drive a model S Performance few weekend ago.

Here are my 2 problems:

1. Show-stopper: Tesla cars are not able to "coast".
Letting off you accelerator and Tesla car "actively" slows you down.
In normal driving, both stop-and-go city traffic and highway driving, as a "green" driver, I "coast" my car quite often.
I even coast when temporarily breaking out of cruise control.
In my test drive, from the ram I merged into the fast highway. I got the Tesla to 100 mph in a blink (LOVE IT!!!) and without knowing it. Once I realized that high speed, as usual my foot was immediately off the accelerator.
I expected the car's momentum will gradually, steadily, and safely slow down to desired speed, i.e. 75 mph.
Tesla car "actively" slowed down significantly.
This is very dangerous as my Tesla would be slowing down and obstruct the vehicle behind me.
It thus required me to constantly pressing my accelerator to control the precise deceleration.

2. Another lesser but still is a show-stopper: Brake-lights are on...but I didn't even brake.
I supposed this is the programmed brake-light-on by Tesla's own implementation.
Due to its "actively" slowing down when foot-off-accelerator, Tesla turns brake lights on to warn folks behind us.
Though this is only a "visual indicator" and not as critical as the "not-able-to-coast" problem above, it bothers the heck out of me. It annoys me quite a bit when folks apply brake for no real safe-driving reason, especially on the highway.

Obviously I had a GREAT test drive.
I'm still crazily IN LOVE with Tesla.
I'm so PROUD that TESLA was invented and manufactured in the USA.
I even equate Elon Musk to Henry Ford for his innovations.
But I'll confess that unless I'm completely wrong on the above 2 issues or Tesla will correct them, I'll find myself not a Tesla owner :-(

Those who own a Tesla, please, please...prove me wrong! I'll appreciate you so much!

cerjor | June 21, 2013

Go to the control page, and turn the regeneration off. Then you can coast. Personally I like the slowing down caused by regen. To make it smoother, you can feather the accelerator.

carlk | June 21, 2013

You can solve both problems by select the mode that it reacts similar to ICE cars. BTW why don't you arrange for a test drive and ask to try both modes?

rmbod | June 21, 2013

#1. turn the regenerative braking off. still doesn't completely coast, but doesn't have hard deceleration either.
#2. #1 will take care of #2. the break lights come on based on force being applied to stopping the car. since regen is off, the break lights will not come on unless you apply the breaks. Did you do a test drive with a Tesla Rep? if so i am surprised they did not point these things out to you.

rmbod | June 21, 2013

we all must have answered at same time. :)

joepruitt | June 21, 2013

Don't forget to turn on creep as well to get that true "ICE" feel. B-)


NKYTA | June 21, 2013

Electrical regeneration is a feature, not a bug. When I must drive my wife's ICE and I take my foot off the gas, I forget half the time that I need to apply mechanical resistance to slow the car - and I get NO benefit - the brakes just wear out quickly.

If you want to "coast", just modify the pressure on the Go pedal - I feel that I've gotten pretty good at that over the last 6 months.

AmpedRealtor | June 21, 2013

Can't you just put the car into neutral to coast?

LMB | June 21, 2013

You have to be a bit of a pioneer to commit to this car at this point - so it's not for everyone (yet). This is one of several things that are a bit shocking at first, because they ask us to change the way we think about driving.

But it's amazing how fast you get used to it. The beauty is the one-pedal driving. Your response time for braking gets much faster, because you no longer have to lift your foot and put it down somewhere else to get any braking - it's immediate. In my humble opinion, this is MUCH safer than the old two-pedal way we were all used to.

As a "green driver," you should prefer the Tesla method - because instead of losing all that kinetic energy while your car is coasting, you are turning it into fuel for your car.

Again, everyone has their preferences, and maybe this isn't for you. I don't think Tesla is going to "fix" the way they do regenerative braking, because they think their way is better - and I have to agree.

Try the test drive again, letting go of your preconceptions - and consider the advantages as well as the disadvantages.

LMB | June 21, 2013

Oh, yeah, and you can turn it off, like they said. Forgot about that - :)

mikeadams | June 21, 2013

I admit, I didn't really like it at first, but after getting used to it I really do like the one pedal driving. Now when I drive my wifes car I feel like I am being 'forced' to constantly move my right foot between pedals in stop and go traffic. It gets to be pretty easy after a little bit to just rest your foot on the accelerator and 'coast' (i.e. power bar near 0). Takes a bit more practice to apply the right amount of pressure to come out of cruise control smoothly, but not too hard to master after a couple weeks. Seems like it should be easy to offer a future update to allow one to turn off regen completely, but maybe have it display a warning that your range will be reduced and brakes will wear prematurely.

DonS | June 21, 2013

If you are driving a long time and need a moments rest from the accelerator pedal, tap the shifter up to neutral. Sometimes I'll do this to coast on long downhill stretches.

I do feel like the brake lights come on a little too soon with regen, but I suppose avoiding rear end crashes is higher priority than annoying brake light flashing. Overall, I've found setting regen on high is a better total driving experience.

RedShift | June 21, 2013

As an owner for 3 months, I can tell you that after a few hours of driving the regen way, you will never want it any other way. It feels more and more natural coz you don't have to brake as much. You tend to get better and better at anticipating the lift-off accelerator to slow the car as if you were braking.

You gain energy, and don't wear out your brakes. For me, it feels unnatural when I coast in my other car.

Mathew98 | June 21, 2013

I'm still adjusting to my week old MS60 with the regen braking. Please note that I've been driving a hybrid for six years with regen brakes too.

My take is that MS is far more aggressive in regenerating energy and it is better than my hybrid.

It will take a little bit to get accustomed to the regen brakes, but you have a choice to adjust between high, low regen function. I found that the default regen option actual increase the driving range vs. the low regen option.

Cirrus | June 21, 2013

I love the regen. I think it's now more dangerous to drive an ICE car as it won't slow as quickly.

AmpedRealtor | June 21, 2013

Remember that from an efficiency standpoint, it's less costly to let the car coast a greater distance than it is to use regen to slow the car down in order to put a charge back into the battery. Every time you convert energy from one form to another - in the case of regen, from potential energy to electrical energy - you are going to lease something. Allowing that potential energy to propel your car forward through coasting involves less conversion and fewer losses. So on a downhill, for example, you will ultimately get farther on less energy by coasting than by using regen.

AmpedRealtor | June 21, 2013

lease=lose ugh!

hamer | June 21, 2013


Although as many have told you you can turn off regenerative braking, and turn on creep in order to make the car behave more like the ICE cars to which you're accustomed, it would be a mistake.

First, you would be wasting energy by not allowing the regenerative braking to recharge the battery.

Second, as a Tesla Model S driver of two months, I can assure you that you would get used to it and it becomes second nature very quickly.

Third, you can simulate coasting if you wish simply by easing up on the accelerator rather than taking your foot off of it.

Fourth, the regenerative braking will save you a huge amount of money and hassle in maintenance. It is relatively easy to drive most of the time without ever using the brake except to stay stopped at stops (stop signs, lights) on ground that is not level. That means you hardly ever need to use the brakes for braking and the breaks will not wear out quickly. If the normal life of brakes is, say, 50,000 miles before you have to spend a fair amount of money for new pads, adjustment, perhaps rotors, it might be 150,000 miles or more before you'll need to get your brakes worked on, because you hardly ever use them.

This really is a feature (on all electric or hybrid cars with regenerative braking) and not a bug or difficulty at all. And it does very quickly become second nature. It is much like braking on an ICE with a manual transmission by putting it in a lower gear and letting the engine slow the car, except you don't have to shift. Or wear out the clutch plates.

Theresa | June 21, 2013

Also if you had been driving a manual transmission car the S would feel very natural in the regen feel as a car with manual transmission slows down very similarly to the S.

evpro | June 21, 2013

Doesn't the MS have cruise control? You are not trying to slow down, just maintain a steady speed. If the highway has a long, moderate downhill won't the CC essentially let you coast (no regen, no motor input)?

I'm asking because I don't know, still a dinosaur owner.

skymaster | June 21, 2013

I like to drive the Model S in "Low" regen. (which gives you much more of a coast feeling) Whenever I let people drive my car, I show them the difference between "normal" and "Low". Everyone likes the "Low" the best. I have no idea why Tesla does not show people the difference on test rides!!!

skymaster | June 21, 2013


Take another test ride and select "Low" regen, and then tell us what you think...

cybrown | June 21, 2013

As others have said, you can set it to low regen, but in my opinion, that would be a huge mistake. You claim to like to coast because you are a green driver. The entire point of the regen is to make the car more green. Yes, you have to change your driving habits - you just have to keep your foot lightly on the accelerator rather than take it off completely. This is your new "coast". If you are approaching a red light, you just wait till you are closer to take your foot off completely, and the car will stop all on its own, regaining all of that energy AND saving your brake pads.

The regen is a good thing. It's good for your wallet and good for the environment. Embrace it, don't turn it off!

DTsea | June 21, 2013

I hate my ICE cars now. Every time traffic slows I have to use the brake! And this coasting thing- it's freakin' dangerous that you lift off the ACCELERATOR and the car doesn't slow down at all at city traffic speeds because in an automatic transmission the engine is always coupled to the wheels.

I think all ICE cars should autobrake to simulate the Tesla feel. It's safer and more under control.

markapeterman | June 21, 2013

"Doesn't the MS have cruise control? You are not trying to slow down, just maintain a steady speed. If the highway has a long, moderate downhill won't the CC essentially let you coast (no regen, no motor input)? "

Yes there is cruise, but as other have mentioned, it does not "coast" - it applies the necessary acceleration or regeneration to maintain the desired speed - often on a gentle slope it will keep the energy use around zero (which is essentially a coast), but on steep downhill grades, it will not let the car gain speed and will apply regen to maintain the selected speed (this is good to avoid speed traps). The car will never vary more than 1mph from the setting.

skymaster | June 21, 2013

Low regen is a "huge mistake" ??? I beg to differ!

stimeygee | June 21, 2013

I hated regen at first. After about 3 days of driving I loved it, and continue to love it.

It's definitely better in every way. Easier on the foot, easier to control the car, just better.

AmpedRealtor | June 21, 2013

+1 on regen saving your breaks. I've had my Prius for five years and have driven over 120,000 miles. I'm still on my original set of break pads.

rd2 | June 21, 2013

just keep driving the car. You will soon realize you MUCH prefer one pedal driving. It's silly to crush the brakes all the time in an ICE. It's also so much more fun to drive the car with regen.

ian | June 21, 2013

I admit I was a bit thrown by the standard regen mode on my test drive. I was looking forward to it though after reading so much about it here. I drive a manual and it doesn't slow that much, that and I'm used to quickly putting it in neutral to coast. I can see how I'd get used to it though!

I didn't get to try the "low" mode. I'll have to make sure I do the next time.

One point of contention in this thread though, they are BRAKES not BREAKS!

Break - To cause to separate into pieces suddenly or violently; smash.

Brake - A device for slowing or stopping motion, as of a vehicle, especially by contact friction.

OK, all better now. ;-)


prytog | June 21, 2013

A Troll?
Test drive cars are limited to 80 mph
Otherwise, learn to drive.

AmpedRealtor | June 21, 2013

@ goneskiian, the older I get the more typos I make. :P

riceuguy | June 21, 2013

Interesting point...I was under the impression that ALL test drive cars were limited to 80. Let's see if npham1212 responds before assuming troll-ishness, but it is suspicious...

cybrown | June 21, 2013

FWIW, my test drive vehicle was not yet limited. The Tesla store had just received it that week and no one had yet turned on the limit.

mreitman | June 21, 2013

Even with regen enabled if you want to "coast" just let up on the accelerator. If you keep it just a bit depressed, the energy use falls to a trickle so the motor is substantially coasting and the regen doesn't activate. Even when you coast in an ICE car there is still some fuel going to the engine to keep it running.

Alex K | June 21, 2013

@ goneskiian | JUNE 21, 2013: One point of contention in this thread though, they are BRAKES not BREAKS!

Yes, please spell this correctly. I have seen it misspelled (in this and other threads) so many times that it's starting to look normal.

@npham1212: You can correct the spelling of your post by hovering over the Tesla logo and selecting edit. Older folks, like me, will be much happier and your post will be taken seriously.

Brian H | June 21, 2013

Yes, as long as you are over 20 mph cruise control will manage both accel and regen to maintain speed.

What everyone is saying is that the MS reprograms your wetware (brain) to get the most out of its capabilities. You may be more resistant than most to the process, but a week or two is likely to change your POV.

npham1212 | June 21, 2013

I'm reading in earnest, and in unbiased discovery mode.
Well, actually a tad of lifetime-ICE-driving habit bias ;-)

a. A Tesla manager accompanied me on my test drive. He was great! He must have forgotten to point out the "low regen". I'll sure test drive again with "low regen". However, I'm in absolute agreement with @AmpedRealtor in "Remember that from an efficiency standpoint, it's less costly to let the car coast a greater distance than it is to use regen to slow the car down in order to put a charge back into the battery."

b. @prytog – my test drive was on 06/08. Apparently no such restriction of 80 mph was introduced. I was aware of Tesla super acceleration. Of course I wanted to feel that. I did not intend to reach 100 mph, but it came so effortless in a matter of seconds. The Tesla manager proudly confirmed to my friends in the back seats that I hit 100 mph. I travel by car on average 25K a year, and never reached 100 mph in the USA, automobile or motorcycle. I did drive +100 mph when traveled in England though ;-)

c. On comments similar to "...crush the brakes all the time in an ICE": Actually, my driving practice (both city and highway) is to gauge both speed and distance to the car in front such that often I don't brake (thank you @goneskiian ;-)) unless absolutely necessary. It's a lifetime green-driving habit that accelerates gradually then releases accelerator to coast without braking. I optimize car's fuel consumption this way. My right foot is normally on gas pedal with near constant pressure or simply off (i.e. no pressure on right foot)

d. My complaint here mainly relates to the comfort of driving: I either apply pressure to maintain speed, or simply apply zero pressure to coast (decelerate). Requiring precise and prolong foot pressure to coast (decelerate) is not comfortable / acceptable to me. Since my Tesla test drive, I began to notice more on the high frequency of coasting my car: downhill, approaching heavier traffic, pick up speed to safely change lane then naturally decelerate, approaching red light, and especially stop-and-go commuting traffic, etc… My right foot was free from any needed pressure on all these instances

e. Unless the next test drive proves otherwise, with the knowledge shared here, I think there are options:
. Use “low regen”. Btw, @LMB, I spoke to Jeff from CA Tesla, and he told me that there are only standard / low regens. Regen can not be turned off
. @AmpedRealtor suggested Can't you just put the car into neutral to coast? Since there is no mechanical gear switching, I guess it is more acceptable. But it would be annoying to constantly switch in/out neutral in a slow commuting-like traffic

Thank you all so much.
I’m hoping to learn more from Tesla owners.

Captain_Zap | June 21, 2013

I got the Model S because I hated all the newer cars that coasted. They felt out of control.

You will learn to love the responsiveness and precision. You can adjust the regen to the setting that works best for you.

ian | June 21, 2013

Buy the car and get used to the regen. Your reflexes will calibrate after some time.

Coasting is only more efficient if you're going downhill for prolonged periods. It's not as efficient when you're on level ground especially when you realize the regenerative braking is putting energy BACK into the battery instead of wasting the energy by heating up the brakes or simply coasting to a stop.


Bob W | June 21, 2013

@npham1212 wrote: "However, I'm in absolute agreement with @AmpedRealtor in 'Remember that from an efficiency standpoint, it's less costly to let the car coast a greater distance than it is to use regen to slow the car down in order to put a charge back into the battery.'"

Can @AmpedRealtor or anyone else cite any references to back up this claim, that "coasting" (in neutral?) is always greener than using regen.?

Maybe it's true in a glide test where you never touch the brake, like a Soap Box Derby. Maybe it applies to a Prius that applies most regen when you hit the brakes. But I don't see how it applies to real world driving in a Model S.

The Model S uses regen. to increase energy efficiency. Disabling regen. (by coasting or selecting "low" regen.) therefore must reduce energy efficiency. Coasting in a Model S is really less "green" than slowing down with regen.

Take one example: Start with 100 miles of rated range. If you "coast" a Model S 10 miles down a 5,000' mountain (bypassing regen.), your rated range (aka. battery state of charge) at the bottom of the mountain will still be a little less than when you started the descent, maybe 98 or 99 miles, due to energy used by heater, A/C, lights, displays, computers, cooling fans, radio, etc. One must also assume that your brake pads will also be a little thinner.

However, if you use cruise control and regen. all the way down, chances are high that you never hit the brake, and your rated range at the bottom of the mountain will end up being a little more than when you started, maybe 101 or 102 miles, thanks to kinetic energy being converted into electricity. Some of that electricity will power the cabin accessories during the 10 mile descent, and most of the rest will be stored in the battery.

So, the regen. car hits the flats with 101 or 102 miles of rated range. The coster's car hits the flats with 98 or 99 miles of rated range. Do you think the coaster could safely coast "a greater distance" (2-4 more miles) on the level ground at that point? I don't think so.

HenryT2 | June 21, 2013

Coasting is definitely more efficient than regen if you are coasting to a stop. But this requires constant monitoring of stopping distances. You are trading the minor physical effort required to keep your foot on the accelerator in order to coast by using partial pressure vs. perpetual vigilance and mental calculation to coast to a stop. Furthermore, this is only effective when traffic is minimal or very predictable. I suspect that your intolerance of brake lights is due to your dependence on knowing what your stopping distance is going to be. I imagine that the occasional car cutting you off must send you into hissy fits.

Also, I can imagine that being the car behind someone doing this is going to be EXTREMELY ANNOYING. I imagine that if you are driving along at 40mph (let alone 70) and want to come to a stop at the next intersection, your coasting method would require you to let off the accelerator long before the actual stopping point thereby forcing all other cars behind you to also reduce their speeds.

I agree that with constant vigilance and tolerance to annoying everyone on the road AND an environment with predictable traffic, coasting to a stop is more effective than the regen on the Model S. However, I don't think most of us want to spend our time driving constant making mental calculations as to when we want to stop and how long it would take to coast there, nor do we want to be stuck behind someone doing this.

JaneW | June 21, 2013

"Ultimately get farther on less energy by coasting than by using regen."

I think that is bunk.
I leave my house with, say, 235 projected miles.
I drive the 10 miles to Boulder, CO, 1800 feet lower,
and I still have 235 projected miles. Sometimes 236.

No way is coasting going to give you ten free miles. And it breaks the brakes. ;)

And low regen? Waste of time and energy. Not to be too rude about it, why
do you want this modern vehicle to feel as though it has an old fashioned automatic transmission? Drive it and you'll learn to love it.

HenryT2 | June 21, 2013

Your calculation of the car having 101 or 102 miles left assumes that you stop the test at the bottom of the hill. If you let the cars continue, you'll find that the car that coasted will be several miles down the road whereas the car that regenned will not have gotten as far on the same energy. Regen is not 100% effective. In order to do a proper analysis would require a lot more information, but all else being equal, not matter how efficient the regen is, coasting a car without using any brakes at all is more efficient than having the same car alternate between using and regenning electricity.

That said, without careful planning and a very predictable environment, this is not practical. In the real world, there will be times when you are forced to slow the car for traffic, curves, pedestrians, etc. that will negate the advantages of coasting.

But the OP is correct that in specific situations, coasting is more energy efficient than regen.

hfcolvin | June 21, 2013

I love the regen and other than my test drive have never driven the Model S on low. And you are correct OP, it cannot be turned off. The Model S, and I assume the Roadster as well, is a different style of driving that took me about 2 hours to become accustomed to. IMO the only efficiency to be gained by coasting is going down a hill that will be immediately followed by a short uphill so that you can gain speed to get over the hill without using any juice (in neutral).

Regen lets me corner without using brakes (and gaining energy!). Mountain switchback driving feels like a manual transmission without the nasty clutch/brake smells. The brake lights don't come on at low regen levels, but I do agree that it's regretfully an annoyance for following drivers, but think it's the safest way to go. Once you're used to driving, this will smooth out and be less of an issue.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong please, but I think the lower brake lights come on with regen, but the rear window light is added when the "real" brakes are used.

My advice is, if you're not feeling comfortable with this reassurance, take some more test drives, see if you get used to it, and if it's a deal breaker (or deal braker?) then, unfortunately, so be it.

Bob W | June 21, 2013

@HenryT2 wrote: Your calculation of the car having 101 or 102 miles left assumes that you stop the test at the bottom of the hill. If you let the cars continue, you'll find that the car that coasted will be several miles down the road whereas the car that regenned will not have gotten as far on the same energy.

I don't understand that conclusion. I guess it would be true of soapboax cars (no brakes), but this was attempting to be real world example, where both Model S cars are required to obey some real world speed limit during the downhill run, say 70 mph max.

The coaster would have to use the brakes at some point, wasting energy. Even if never used (shallow slope), the coaster would end up with less energy in the battery at the bottom of the hill, because they are using no regen.

When they get to the bottom (at about the same time), the coaster will have about 98 miles of range left, and the other will have 102. Then they get to drive until empty, over flat ground. The regen. driver will be the clear winner.

Getting back to the OP, there is no reason whatsoever to think of the aggressive regen. as a show stopper. It in fact is a wonderful feature, especially when going around curves.

And is actually dangerous to put your car in neutral and coast downhill, because sometimes you need to accelerate suddenly to avoid an accident, and if you're in neutral, you can't. This is probably why it is illegal in California (and other states I assume):

From CA Vehicle Code:

Coasting Prohibited

21710. The driver of a motor vehicle when traveling on down grade upon any highway shall not coast with the gears of such vehicle in neutral.

JohnnyMac | June 21, 2013

Well, if you are at all like me and grew up on a manual transition and downshifted to either slow or gain optimal gearing and torque for turn entry/exit, then this car was designed for you once you adjust. For the past 8-10 years, I have been constantly using paddle shifters in a 5 series or e class to gain the same effect. The Model S allows you to archive that with one foot and minimal effort via small adjustments. Question for the OP-have you driven the Model S in stop and go traffic? OMG- it is a game changer. Total control with the right foot. No more brake-accelerate-brake-brake harder-accelerate-brake again BS. The simplicity and ease of throttle-based speed control takes all the stress out of it. Stay open minded and schedule additional test drives. Tesla reps will take care of you. I took 5 test drives before I committed - early adopter with massive late majority tendencies :-). Good luck and I hope you make the move to the Model S. There really is no going back. Just sayin.

noel.smyth | June 21, 2013

Regen is one of my favorite features. I rarely use my brakes in normal driving. It tool me about 1 day to adjust to the strong regen of the car. I guess its not for everyone!

sia | June 21, 2013

I agree with all who have cited the merits of regen braking, both for safety and efficiency.

We live on a 700' hill and it is straight downhill for 3 miles. We have to drive down a very steep street with a speed limit of 25 mph, through a residential and school area. All of our ICE cars require major braking, even in a low gear, and our brake replacement costs have been high, not to mention the lack of safety. But the Tesla Model S gracefully goes down the hill, under complete speed control and we get down the hill, without losing a single mile of range. This alone makes the Tesla worth every dollar of its price. | June 21, 2013

I wholeheartedly agree with the regen supporters. It improves the feel & control (close to downshifting in an ICE only better). I'm thinking I may never have to replace my brake pads. I also like the brake lights on deceleration.

Downhill at highway speeds I will regen when I back off on the go pedal. There is no appreciable deceleration and no brake lights when I do this. I've had the car 6 months and I continue to marvel at the engineering.

AmpedRealtor | June 21, 2013

HenryT2 is totally correct.

By definition, when you convert energy from one form to another there is a loss to inefficiencies in the conversion process itself. No conversion is 100% efficient. I believe the Prius regenerative breaking system is only 33%-50% efficient. So that means 50%-67% of the energy is LOST in the regen process. Your car slows down, you are losing more than half of your energy to conversion inefficiencies compared to simply coasting. For the regen vehicle to catch up to the coasting vehicle will require engaging the battery and using the energy you've stored up from the regen to propel you forward. Remember, however, that energy came at a 50%-67% penalty earlier. Those ions came at a very high cost through conversion inefficiency. The coasting vehicle will go farther in the same amount of time while using less net battery energy. That's the theory, anyway. I don't have the equations, but I got a B in physics so I'm pretty sure I'm somewhere in the ballpark.

The best rule of thumb would seem to be to coast whenever possible on straightaways and downhills, and use regen as needed for braking. In my Prius I can toggle those modes using just the accelerator pedal. This gives me fantastic mileage.