In Electric Vehicles, the 'Gas' Is Also the Brake

Welcome to the world of one-pedal driving
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2017 7:39 AM CDT

(Newser) – It's one of the lines that gets beat into every teenager's brain in driver's ed: Brake left, gas right. But in our new electric-vehicle world, that sentence could use an upgrade. That's because what was once the gas—the proper term for EVs is accelerator—is now also the brake. Electric motors run as generators; pressing down on the accelerator sends electricity to the motor to move the vehicle forward, while lifting off the pedal actually charges the battery as the momentum of the car turns the motor, reports Forbes. This is called "regenerative braking," and it conserves energy, which in turn extends the vehicle's range. The car's default setting can have more or less regeneration, and when there's more, easing off the gas slows the car dramatically, even to a full stop.

story continues below

Nissan is really pushing this with its new Leaf, due later this year, by introducing an "e-Pedal" feature where lifting off the accelerator will bring the car to a complete stop, even on hills. (Yes, there's still a backup brake for what Wired calls "panic stops," but the magazine notes it's totally unnecessary.) Forbes reports that early on in the game, the regeneration settings in EVs were set to more closely mimic the experience of traditional cars; the Leaf's touting of the e-Pedal shows how the thinking has changed. And that change brings real benefits: For one, regenerative braking reduces stopping distances, because the braking begins as soon as you start to raise your foot, rather than after you've shifted all the way to the brake. (In just over a year, Volvo says all its new models will be either hybrids or totally electric.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.