Understanding Regenerative Braking in Hybrids and EVs

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.


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Chuck

10 years of experience
347 reviews
Chuck
10 years of experience
Acura RDX V6-3.5L - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Plano, Texas
Very professional. Was running late from previous job and called ahead to let me know. Worked efficiently. So nice not to have to drive far and sit in a waiting room for hours to get the job done.
Toyota Highlander - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Rowlett, Texas
Chuck was great! We talked via phone to discuss the available options to repair my Highlander. He worked with me to schedule a time that was convenient for me, and he arrived early for the appointment. He walked me through some of the other issues that exist on my 2008 Highlander which has 223k miles. His feedback on my car was clear and easy to understand.

Pardeep

21 years of experience
1068 reviews
Pardeep
21 years of experience
Mini Cooper L4-1.6L - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Sunnyvale, California
Pardeep was prompt and communicated well during the whole process. He completed the service in record time.
Honda Civic - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - San Jose, California
Pardeep was on time for the appt, actually early, and finished quickly and efficiently. Thank you very much.

Refugio

21 years of experience
106 reviews
Refugio
21 years of experience
Toyota Sienna V6-3.5L - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - San Antonio, Texas
Refugio is our top choice mechanic! He works with you and came early since we were available. He is honest about the work that needs to be done and we have never had trouble with our vehicles after his repairs.
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - San Antonio, Texas
He was respectful, prompt, courteous, and professional. He is a no nonsense guy who did the job above my expectations and is the standard from which all other mechanics are judged by (in my book)

Raymond

27 years of experience
223 reviews
Raymond
27 years of experience
Mini Cooper L4-1.6L - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Victorville, California
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