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One-Pedal Driving - All You Need to Know

Electric cars have already transformed the automotive industry. They’re popularly recognized as practical, environmentally friendly, affordable, and quiet types of…

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19/06/2020 7:34 AM

Electric cars have already transformed the automotive industry. They’re popularly recognized as practical, environmentally friendly, affordable, and quiet types of vehicles. Appropriate to the world where electric vehicles are widespread implies modifying to a few changes. For instance, instead of visiting the gas station to fill up, cars can be plugged-in to recharge. One of the recent and massive adjustments, however, is to understand how to slow down and brake your car in a whole new method. Several carmakers are stressing one pedal for both, slowing down as well as speeding up. In this article, we are going to elaborate on what this one-pedal driving mechanism is and how it works in different car models.

What is one-pedal driving?

Basically, if you’ve been using the traditional internal-combustion engines, you might not have heard anything about this braking mechanism. If you are experienced in driving a purely battery-electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid, you must have an idea of what it entails.
To explain what this one-pedal driving mechanism is, Jason Fenske, elaborated on how the whole system functions. In his Video, Fenske is seen driving a Nissan Leaf to elaborate on how the technique works. It is not tailored for the Leaf only. Chevrolet Bolt EV, Tesla, and plug-in hybrids like Chevrolet Volt have the capacity to some extent.

Normally, one-pedal driving is precisely how it sounds to be. The driver does not require using the brakes to bring the vehicle to a stop or to reduce the speed. In an electric vehicle or a vehicle with an electric motor, the Powertrain requires electricity for the motor to move the vehicle forward and also accelerate. Notwithstanding, when stopping, the technique can reverse the car by doing the opposite. The vehicle utilizes kinetic energy, which turns that energy into electricity, slowing down in the long run. As that happens, it disposes those regained electrons back into the battery, through a process called regenerative braking.

Furthermore, this technique allows the vehicle to stop with the help of hydraulic brakes. In the Nissan Leaf’s case, the vehicle stopped in its “e-Pedal” mode. When the vehicle stops completely, it utilizes the hydraulic brakes to grasp it in place. This does not work the same way when using a Chevrolet Volt electric car, for instance. The driver will be required to leave the foot on the brakes pedal to stop the car, and this does not offer a complete one-pedal driving capability.

E Pedal

Should you want to make an emergency stop, the one-pedal braking system works similarly to the normal method and will lock the hydraulic brakes to stop as you need. Moreover, it is good to understand that the brake light works the same way as the one-pedal driving to allow the drivers behind you to comprehend that you are slowing down.

The working mechanism of the regenerative braking system

For decades, motorists have been habituated to utilizing one-pedal for brakes and one pedal for gas. Of course, manual vehicle transmissions have another pedal (clutch). Electric cars are transforming and thanks to the regenerative braking.

Normally, regenerative braking changes the car’s motor into a sort of power generator. Unlike the traditional internal combustion engine where energy is lost, when the driver hits the brakes, there is drag or friction, created by the braking technique generating energy. In electric cars, when the vehicle starts coasting, its motor starts working as the generator, creating and utilizing electricity from the wheels. This process does save wear and tear as well as feeding the energy back to the vehicle’s battery to boost the driving range.

Presumably, the regenerative braking technique changes the method by which vehicles utilize energy; however, that is just the beginning. Besides, it changes the way you drive your car. With this technique, the accelerating pedal is utilized to both slow down the car and speed it up.

Choose your preference

Regenerative braking is a powerful technique; however, it can be surprising to some individuals. Undoubtedly, stopping your car very fast can be jarring if you don’t expect it. It is a distinct method of driving and can take time for you to get used to.

There is an option, though. If you are not considering stopping or slowing down your car, you can disable those features, enabling your vehicle to roll along. You can still utilize the regenerative braking, but not to stop completely. Using this method will allow you to creep up in traffic when you can’t wait for the traffic light.

If having a jarring braking system, but you need to stop slowly, you can as well reduce the strength. This will also assist the new EV drivers to have enough experience of one-pedal driving. Normally, it is recommended to consider the strongest regenerative braking and setting it in a way that will bring you to stop. This will enhance the EV range and maintain a minimal brake pad wear. These settings play a vital role in adapting to this driving style. When you have experience of using it, you will never consider going back.

Popular types of one-pedal driving EV on the market today

Chevy Bolt one-pedal driving

The Chevrolet Bolt is not the first car to possess a Regen on Demand paddle situated on the steering wheel’s back, despite being an awesome implementation feature debuted on the Cadillac ELR and later transformed into Chevy Volt. By pressing down the paddle and bolt controls brake regeneration, minimizing the speed as if you stepped onto the brake pedal. There is a delay before the paddle performs this technique, and if you continue pressing it down, the vehicle can stop completely.

For the Bolt to effectively as a one-pedal vehicle, you will require driving it when it is in L mode to achieve the highest regenerative braking level up to 0.22g. This implies that switching downwards the electronic shifter a second time changes the Bolt into gear. Likewise, changing the default D drive mode copies a convectional vehicle, coasting when the accelerator is released. By uniting L and excellent utilization of the paddle, driving a car without the braking pedal is practically possible all the time.

Tesla Model S one-pedal driving

Surprisingly, a great one-pedal vehicle on the market comes from Tesla Company, which invested the concept. Tesla’s stand is distinct in the sense that it takes apart the friction brakes from the electric motors that reverse spin. Every system is enabled to run in a self-standing manner with no brakes connection.

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Tesla Model S One Pedal Driving20

The vehicle monitors the resistance offered by the generator and the driver controls the convectional braking technique. This enhances the feel of the brake pedal and helps the driver to monitor the deceleration of the car.
Despite Tesla models handling off-accelerator Regen, Model S works perfectly due to its quick accelerating mechanism. Tested by the motor expert, Model S can hit 60 mph in only 2.3 seconds. Of course, Model S also provides the longest battery range of any EV extant.

Bolt EV one-pedal driving

One pedal driving in Bolt EV blend the available regenerative braking levels, which holds the lost energy during decelerating and transfer it once again to the Bolt EV battery pack for the highest total vehicle range. Together with extra software control systems, Regen braking enables the driver to make a stop without utilizing the brake pedal in particular driving conditions.

Many individuals who want to try the Bolt EV will like the experience of one-pedal driving. The Bolt EV will also make the users drive their car to the preferred range and style. Regen braking has a continuous stronger level that is utilized in the Bolt EV driving through a program of 4 driver-selectable modes as outlined below:

  • Running in drive and freeing off the accelerator.
  • Running in drive and utilizing the paddle’s Regen on-demand on the steering wheel’s back.
  • Running in low and freeing off the accelerator.
  • Running in low and operating the paddle’s Regen on-demand in tandem.

The number 1 mode offers the lowest Regen braking level and needs to utilize the brakes pedal to control the vehicle to have a full stop. Numbers 2-4 are a continuous sturdy one-pedal mode of driving that enables the driver to stop the car in some specific driving situation without utilizing the braking pedals.

Utilizing the car simulation mode, the automakers compared two performances. One is the Regen testing cycle, which replicated strong stop-and-move traffic in the drive. The second one was utilizing one-pedal driving while on peddle’s Regen on-demand, and also while in low. The carmakers realized that the system in one-pedal driving can include up to 5% of the Bolt EV range.

When compared with Chevrolet, many Bolt EV lovers express their interest for its one-pedal driving capability. Much like Chevrolet’s lovers, Bolt EV owners will enjoy utilizing the Regen braking system to enhance the charge of the car’s 60kWh battery pack. Overall, Bolt EV is considered offering 200 miles or more range.

Nissan Leaf plus one-pedal driving

Leaf plus comes with several improvements with the introduction of the one-pedal driving mode being one of them. Basically, all the Leaf plus has a feature called ePedal, which is in the Plus model. The ePedal really shines with one massive battery pack and a potent electric motor. This model offers a degree of sportiness never possessed before.

So it is easy to activate the ePedal. You only need to toggle the button situated above the shifter. Then, the leaf will change into its highest regeneration mode after the right foot is lifted, producing deceleration of up to 0.20g. As the vehicle slows down, it utilizes the friction automatically to stop, reserving the vehicle station mode on 30% grades. The impact of rubber-band is well-matched during acceleration and deceleration for spirited town driving, ensuring that the Leaf plus is an amazingly strong traffic weapon. When it is appropriate to apply the brakes manually, you may experience inconsistent results from the combined Regen system, making it challenging to figure out the amount of pressure to apply.

EV one-pedal driving tips for winter

You can attest that utilizing one-pedal driving, particularly in winter, is challenging. Some aspects like icy roads, cold temperatures, and snow will affect how your car performs during this season. EV vehicles normally are not exceptional or better than gas-powered vehicles during this season. Usually, even with EV, harsh conditions and cold temperatures present some challenges.

If you are looking forward to purchasing EV cars or you already own one, you must comprehend how the EVs braking is enhanced in this cold season.

Braking in winter

The regenerative braking, the instant experience of stopping or slowing down the car is perfect for efficiency and control in EVs. Notwithstanding, when winter comes, the feature is limited by the cold battery. Not unless the vehicle is warm and the battery can capture the excess energy well, there will be a less intense feeling in the regenerative braking. Usually, some EVs, including the Tesla Model S utilizes the regenerative braking system when the battery is warm.

When driving for a short distance and the battery does not warm-up, you will experience an instant slowdown when the foot is removed from the accelerator. Similarly, when driving for a long distance, you will realize that the regenerative braking system runs normally when the battery warms up. In some EV models like BMW i3, Chevy Bolt, Tesla, and Nissan Lean, the regenerative braking system is much powerful than the Regen, offering the drivers the one-pedal driving experience. Here the drivers only utilize the accelerator to increase the speed and slow down without thinking of using brakes.

Conclusion

Basically, it is possible to bring the vehicle to stop without using the brakes. Surprisingly EV can utilize the same principle to propel the car forward and accelerate it, thanks to the electric motor. Just be careful when practicing this technique because when trying to stop, your car can move in the opposite direction, and this is dangerous, especially if there was a car behind you.

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Steve Tarcos

I`m Steve, an Engineer who is highly involved and interested in the world of renewable energy. In my spare time, I play with my kids and watch documentaries.