What Is One-Pedal Driving In Electric Cars?

One-Pedal Driving

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What Is One-Pedal Driving?

For those new to electric driving, two terms will often be mentioned in relation to electric cars: regenerative braking and one-pedal driving. Though not all electric vehicles (EVs) incorporate one-pedal driving, most incorporate regenerative braking.

One-pedal driving is enabled as a result of regenerative braking, also known as regen. Regen braking is a process of capturing the wasted energy (during braking) from an electric vehicle to be reused (recycled). In the case of electric driving, the ‘captured’ energy is reused (recharge the EV battery), to increase the pure electric range of the EV (i.e. improve the efficiency of the EV).

In most conventional internal combustion engines (ICE), like petrol and diesel cars, the kinetic energy is lost at the time of braking i.e. displaced as heat, making driving ICE motor vehicle less efficient. In particular, in urban or congested environments that require frequent braking.  

An electric car will have different levels of regenerative braking to suit the needs of the driver. The higher the level of regen, the greater the efficiency of the vehicle i.e. more improved electric range. For EVs with one-pedal driving, again, there are different levels on offer. For example, the Polestar 2 offers three levels of one-pedal driving.

One-pedal driving is now becoming a common feature in electric cars, and we expect most automotive manufacturers to incorporate this feature in new electric cars. We recommend practising using one-pedal driving in an empty car park or safe area, before using it on the road. We also recommend reading the automotive manufacturers guidelines (manual) carefully, before enabling one-pedal driving.

One-Pedal Driving: Basics
What is one-pedal driving?It is exactly what the term suggests. It is an advanced system unique to electric cars. EVs that offer one-pedal driving, allow the driver to use only one pedal (the accelerator), to adjust vehicle speed while driving i.e. for acceleration, deceleration and stopping. For avoidance of any doubt, an e-pedal is not an additional pedal in an EV!
How does one-pedal driving work?For acceleration it is quite the same as normal driving i.e. when the accelerator pedal is depressed, the car goes faster. However, when the foot is removed from the accelerator pedal, in one-pedal driving, the vehicle deceleration is more amplified than normal driving, as the vehicle slows down using regenerative braking (the magnetic resistance of the electric motor increases and creates a braking force. This friction in the drivetrain slows the vehicle down).
Is one-pedal driving on all the time?No. One-pedal driving is switched on or off, depending on the needs of the driver. In the Nissan Leaf, the e-pedal can be engaged by pushing the toggle on the centre console. In the Kia EV6, the i-pedal is engaged using the paddle shifter.
Does one-pedal driving bring the EV to a complete stop?Not in all electric cars. In some electric cars the vehicle can be brought to a stop using one-pedal driving, while in others, it is not the case.
What are the benefits of one-pedal driving?Benefits include: lower wear and tear for brakes (and associated parts), less fatigue for driver and more convenience (no need to switch back and forth between pedals), increased efficiency of the electric vehicle.
What are the limitations of one-pedal driving?One-pedal driving cannot be used for emergency braking. Neither one-pedal driving or regen, replace mechanical frictional brakes. According to Kia, “do not solely rely on one pedal driving to stop the vehicle. Stopping the vehicle may not be possible depending vehicle and road conditions. Pay attention to the road condition ahead and apply the brake if necessary.”
Examples of EVs that offer one-pedal driving?The all-electric Nissan Leaf, the all-electric Honda e, Polestar 2, Kia EV 6 and more!
How easy is one-pedal driving?Though a new experience for many, getting used to one-pedal driving and regenerative braking is not a significant challenge. A few short journeys, and it will feel quite natural!
Are there any other names for one-pedal driving?Yes, automotive manufacturers refer to one-pedal driving with different names. For example, Hyundai and Kia refer to it as i-pedal, while Nissan refers to it as e-pedal.

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Ashvin Suri

Ashvin has been involved with the renewables, energy efficiency and infrastructure sectors since 2006. He is passionate about the transition to a low-carbon economy and electric transportation. Ashvin commenced his career in 1994, working with US investment banks in New York. Post his MBA from the London Business School (1996-1998), he continued to work in investment banking at Flemings (London) and JPMorgan (London). His roles included corporate finance advisory, M&A and capital raising. He has been involved across diverse industry sectors, to include engineering, aerospace, oil & gas, airports and automotive across Asia and Europe. In 2010, he co-founded a solar development platform, for large scale ground and roof solar projects to include, the UK, Italy, Germany and France. He has also advised on various renewable energy (wind and solar) utility scale projects working with global institutional investors and independent power producers (IPP’s) in the renewable energy sector. He has also advised in key international markets like India, to include advising large-scale industrial and automotive group in India. Ashvin has also advised Indian Energy, an IPP backed by Guggenheim (a US$ 165 billion fund). He has also advised a US$ 2 billion, Singapore based group. Ashvin has also worked in the real estate and infrastructure sector, to including working with the Matrix Group (a US$ 4 billion property group in the UK) to launch one of the first few institutional real estate funds for the Indian real estate market. The fund was successfully launched with significant institutional support from the UK/ European markets. He has also advised on water infrastructure, to include advising a Swedish clean technology company in the water sector. He has also been involved with a number of early stage ventures.

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