The usage of regenerative braking highly improves the overall energy efficiency of electric vehicles. In this paper, the model-based optimization of the torque profile is determined in the regenerative braking process of a lightweight electric vehicle. For the optimization, measurement-based vehicle model was used, where the extended powertrain model was set up, including the regenerative operation. The whole model was elaborated in MATLAB Simulink environment, where genetic algorithm (GA) was applied for the optimization. The resulted optimized braking curve was applied to control the experimental vehicle and field test were made to validate the optimization results. The results of the presented work can be directly used to further improve the drive cycle efficiency of the urban electric vehicles. The application of optimized driving strategies, including regenerative braking, could contribute to further energy and pollution reduction in urban transportation.