The world of electric vehicles is full of interesting and exciting innovations. Most of these innovations have taken hold as a means to make the experience of driving an electric vehicle more enjoyable and relatable. A lot of these innovations have to do with the system of storing electric energy on the car battery, using that energy to drive the car, and maximizing the range of the car as much as possible by recouping energy through measures like regenerative braking.
However, some interesting quirks of electric cars have emerged out of these innovations and actually become cool features that are now talking points electric car manufacturers ensure to include in their talking points. One such feature is one-pedal driving. For drivers accustomed to driving ICE vehicles, the experience usually involves driving using three pedals (in the case of manual transmissions) or two pedals (in the case of automatic transmissions). Electric vehicles also usually come with two pedals, one for throttle and the other for braking.
However, with the concept of regenerative braking finding its way into more and more electric cars, it is possible, with the right practice, to drive such a car using just the throttle pedal. This has become known as one-pedal driving in the EV enthusiast community and is a cool, new, fun way to drive electric vehicles, especially in busy city commutes.
Here, we take a look at the concept of one-pedal driving and why it is fun.
The key to understanding one-pedal driving is having a grasp of regenerative braking technology. In electric vehicles, the act of slowing the vehicle down through braking can be used to recoup that kinetic energy, which would be lost as heat in friction-based braking systems, and sending that energy back to the battery. This is accomplished by using the braking system to run the motor in reverse, in which orientation works as a generator, charging the battery for the duration of the braking.
However, apart from when you apply the brake pedal, regenerative braking can also be automatically engaged when you lift your foot off the throttle. In fact, many cars allow you to even set the intensity of regenerative braking to be applied when you do this. This means that taking the foot off the throttle automatically engages the braking mechanism. Theoretically, this means that the car can be driven using only one pedal – the throttle pedal.
Since car manufacturers have been engaged for years to make the driving experience more relaxed and less involved for drivers, being able to drive with just one pedal can be an immensely fun experience, especially in city traffic where you have to use the brakes frequently in start-stop situations. Thanks to regenerative braking, you can accomplish this with a little practice to fine-tune your timing and distance management.
A Deep Dive into One-Pedal Driving
In most electric vehicles employing regenerative braking, you would get an option to activate the braking automatically when you disengage the throttle. This is provided as an option as it might not be the ideal choice for every driver. However, if you do opt for this, it is also likely that you would be able to set the strength or intensity of the regenerative braking to be applied once you do take your foot off the throttle. Some cars might have this option as a set-and-forget choice while other, more advanced, and expensive models, might also give you the option to set the strength on the fly using pedal shifters.
Depending on the strength you have chosen, this means that you can take your foot off the throttle to engage the brake. If you carefully control your timing, you can come to a stop at most traffic situations. This is the central premise of one-pedal driving. In cars where you can control the intensity of the regenerative braking, you have even more granular control over the braking.
The trick is to practice and train yourself to disengage the throttle at the exact right time. You need to mentally calculate the right distance in stopping situations, like when you are approaching a red light, for example, and lift your foot off the throttle engaging the brake. Depending on the intensity of regenerative braking selected and your timing, the car will come to a stop at exactly the right place.
With one-pedal driving, you have a minimally involved way of driving your vehicle, reserving your brake pedal only for emergency use. Your entire daily driving can be accomplished by using only one pedal. What is more, you can practice this fun way of driving while also recharging your battery through regenerative braking every time you slow down. This fun new way of driving is already popular with EV enthusiasts and with time, it can be expected that EV manufacturers will introduce more features focused specifically on one-pedal driving to make this an even more intuitive experience.