Video: How Much Can You Recharge An EV By Driving It Down A Mountain?

The Mini Cooper SE has a fairly short range from the outset — but how much can regen actually help?

Mini Cooper SE -- regen test
In this video, Tommy sees just how much juice you can potentially put back into an EV’s battery after driving up and down the same hilly route. (Image: TFLcar)

How much does regen braking actually help an EV like the Mini Cooper SE?

Efficiency is key when it comes to really getting the most out of an electric car’s range, whether that EV is a long-range Tesla or a shorter-range vehicle like the Mini Cooper SE. In fact, with just a 32.64-kWh battery pack onboard, you really need to make the most out of that available energy when you’re limited to just over 100 miles of range. That’s where regenerative braking comes in, harnessing some of the energy when you need to slow down and slowly recharging the battery pack. But just how much energy can you get back from doing that?

Here in Colorado, we can actually test that to a greater extent, since there are plenty of mountains and hills to really make the most out of an EV’s regen capability. To try it out, Tommy takes our electric Mini on a long, moderately steep run to see whether you can recapture much of the energy you consume going up a mountain on the way back down.

While Tommy used 7% of the Mini’s available energy on the uphill run, the result isn’t too spectacular on the way back down. Even over a fair distance, consistently running back down, he was only able to regen 2% of the total charge. Still, in everyday driving (particularly with longer-distance EVs), that technology helps extend the range a few miles farther, and can still replenish a solid amount of energy over time, saving some effort and cost having to recharge over the long haul.

Check out the full test below: