In addition to running off electricity instead of gasoline, hybrids and electric vehicles (EVs) boast another energy-saving component: regenerative braking. Regenerative braking captures the energy typically lost as heat when a driver brakes. As the car slows down, all the energy being used to go forward dissipates into the brake pads as heat — contributing to brake pad wear — in friction-based braking systems. These traditional systems create stopping friction using brake rotors and brake pads, which connect when the pedal is depressed, as well as between the wheels and the road.
Regenerative brakeing systems use an EV’s motor to convert the kinetic energy lost during deceleration back into energy stored in the car battery. Stored electrical energy is used when it accelerates instead of working harder to use its own energy reserves. The motor operates as a generator to produce more electricity.
Regenerative brakes are most useful in certain driving conditions. They work best in stop-and-go situations, such as heavy traffic or city navigation. All hybrid and electric car braking systems also come with back-up friction brakes to operate when regenerative brakes do not provide enough power to stop the car, such as an emergency stop. The brake pedal may seem to depress more than normal in these circumstances but this does not mean the car will not stop.
The Benefits of Regenerative Braking
Regenerative brakes can be measured in terms of their overall effectiveness. Though an improvement in reusing energy compared to friction-run brakes on most cars, regenerative braking provides more significant benefits in specific driving conditions. Wherever a car stops and brakes frequently, more energy can be stored. Despite their limitations, regenerative brakes offer 3 important advantages:
Fuel Economy. Specifically in hybrid vehicles, the car uses more electricity to power the vehicle instead of reaching into gasoline stores. It aids in lowering overall fuel consumption.
Prolongs Battery Charge. Regenerative brakes do not only aid in acceleration energy. They capture energy that is used to recharge the electric vehicles’ and hybrids’ batteries. The car has an extended charge when incorporating regenerative brake energy.
Brake System Longevity. Regenerative brake systems still include friction brakes to guarantee a vehicle will stop when it needs to. However, the traditional-style brakes aren’t used as often. The regenerative brakes slow down and reduce wear and tear on the braking system.
It’s important to know the total purpose of the system you’re operating. Driving an electric car or hybrid provides a variety of benefits over internal combustion engine-run cars while still working to catch up in other areas, such as driving range and affordability. Regenerative brakes supply some significant advantages in certain driving conditions. Understanding how they work helps the driver in using them most effectively.