Paddle shifters take on new meaning in the Cadillac ELR, the brand’s first electric vehicle with extended range capability that goes on sale in early 2014.

Unlike traditional performance vehicles where the steering wheel-mounted paddles allow drivers to upshift and downshift the mechanical transmission, Cadillac ELR’s paddle shifters enable the driver to temporarily regenerate energy and store it as electricity in the battery pack for later use.

ELR’s Regen on Demand feature is unique to the compact luxury coupe and builds on Cadillac’s performance-bred heritage.

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. The feature does not bring the vehicle to a full stop.

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Releasing the paddle disengages Regen on Demand, allowing the vehicle to coast normally. The driver can engage and disengage Regen on Demand as desired and as traffic conditions allow.

During regenerative braking, the system converts the vehicle’s momentum to electrical power and stores the energy in the T-shaped battery pack located along the centerline of the vehicle, between the front and rear wheels for optimal weight distribution.

The pack supplies energy to an advanced electric drive unit capable of 295 lb-ft of instant torque (400 Nm) to propel the vehicle. Using only the energy stored in the battery, the ELR will deliver an estimated range of about 35 miles (56 km) of pure electric driving, depending on terrain, driving techniques and temperature.

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Charging the ELR’s battery can be done with a 120V electrical outlet or a dedicated 240V charging station. The vehicle can be completely recharged in about 4.5 hours using a 240V outlet, depending on the outside temperature.

Source: Cadillac