What is one pedal driving for EVs and how does it work?


One pedal driving is a driving style that allows a driver to control both the acceleration and the braking on a vehicle using just one pedal.

It's a feature that is becoming increasingly common in electric vehicles (EVs) with many preferring for its convenience and efficiency over traditional two-pedal driving.

Here we'll explain what one-pedal driving is, how it works, and its benefits for EV drivers.

You may have heard the phrase 'one pedal driving' so here's what it means, what cars have it, and how it works.You may have heard the phrase 'one pedal driving' so here's what it means, what cars have it, and how it works. (Photo: Pexels.com)

What is one pedal driving?

One-pedal driving is a feature in electric vehicles – or EVs as we’ll refer to them - that allows a driver to control the speed of the car using, you’ve guessed it, one pedal. Instead of using both the accelerator and brake pedals, the driver uses the same pedal to accelerate and decelerate the car. When the driver pushes down on the pedal, the car accelerates as with any other car. But when the driver releases the pedal, the car begins to slow down, or even stop completely in some circumstances.

How does one pedal driving work?

One-pedal driving works by using regenerative braking, a technology found in EVs – and Formula One cars - that converts the kinetic energy of the car into electrical energy and stores it in the car's battery – delivering free power and an improved range. When the driver releases the accelerator pedal, the regenerative braking system kicks in and slows the car down by converting its kinetic energy into electrical energy.

The level of this regenerative braking can be adjusted to provide varying levels of deceleration. In some EVs, the driver can do this while driving using a switch or a button on the dashboard. This allows them to choose how much the car slows down when they release the accelerator pedal.

Benefits of one pedal driving

One pedal driving offers several benefits to EV drivers. Here are some of the main ones to consider:

  • Improved efficiency: One pedal driving can improve the efficiency of an EV by reducing the amount of energy needed to slow the car down. When the driver releases the pedal, the car slows down, and the regenerative braking system converts the car's kinetic energy into electrical energy, which is stored in the battery. This means that the driver can slow the car down without using the brake pedal, which reduces the wear and tear on the brake pads and improves the car's overall efficiency – and adds power to the battery at the same time. This is basically free energy.
  • Convenience: One pedal driving is more convenient than using both the accelerator and brake pedals, as the driver only needs to use one pedal to control the speed of the car. This can make driving in stop/start traffic jams less stressful and less of a chore, as the driver doesn't need to keep switching between the accelerator and brake pedals – or clutch.
  • However, it can certainly take a while to get used to, so the ‘convenience’ aspect may take a little longer to show itself for some drivers more used to tradition driving styles.
  • Safety: In some cases, once the drivers is accustomed to using the system, one pedal driving can also improve safety by giving the driver more control over the car's speed. Because the car slows down when the driver releases the pedal, the driver can slow down more gradually than if they were using the brake pedal. This can reduce the risk of sudden stops and jerky movements, which can be uncomfortable for passengers and potentially dangerous in certain situations.

However, one pedal driving is not recommended when driving down steep hills, with a heavy load, or in slippery conditions such as in rain, snow or muddy conditions.

Challenges that come with one pedal driving

While one-pedal driving offers many benefits as we described abover, there are also some challenges to consider:

  • Learning curve: One pedal driving will take a while to get used to, especially for drivers who are used to using both the accelerator and brake pedals.
  • Limited use: One-pedal driving may not be suitable for all driving situations. For example, when driving downhill, the car may not slow down enough using regenerative braking alone, and the driver may need to use the brake pedal to slow the car down more quickly.
  • Battery degradation: Regenerative braking can cause additional wear and tear on the car's battery, which can lead to degradation over time. However, most EV car makers have designed their cars to minimize this effect.

Do all EVs have one pedal driving?

No. Not all electric motors have this features, so make sure you do your research before you buys. And make sure you try the feature out during any test drive you take in such a vehicle.

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Author: Pete Barden:

Twitter: @pete_barden

Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (thesun.co.uk), New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? (Whatcar.com) Stuff Magazine (Stuff.tv), Fastcar Magazine (Fastcar.co.uk), Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.

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