What Is One Pedal Driving When It Comes To EVs?

in Auto FAQs and News
EV charging

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Over the years, electric vehicles or EVs are becoming more popular with the average consumer. On top of being technologically advanced and environmentally friendly, most all-electric and hybrid cars have features that change how we drive. One such feature is one pedal driving.

For people used to using two or three pedals to drive, the concept of one pedal driving may seem foreign or even ridiculous. However, like most new technologies, single-pedal driving has its share of benefits and drawbacks. Basically, it’s a mechanic where you can slow down or stop the vehicle by simply taking your foot off the accelerator, so you’re only using one pedal to drive.

What is one pedal driving in EV and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles? How does it work? Is it safe to use this feature? We’ll answer these questions and more.

What Is One or Single Pedal Driving in EVs?

While the name “one pedal driving” can accurately describe this feature, how it works can be pretty complex.

At its core, single-pedal driving lets you control the speed of your vehicle with just the accelerator pedal. Instead of using the brake pedal to slow down or stop, as with conventional cars, you only need to take your foot off the accelerator. To activate, there’s usually a dedicated button to switch this feature on or off. The name of the one pedal feature varies by manufacturer. For example, Nissan calls it E-Pedal, Hyundai labels it i-Pedal, and Chevy calls it OPD.

One of the most common questions about single-pedal driving is how the vehicle slows down without braking. It starts with regenerative braking.


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What is Regenerative Braking?

Modern hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and all-electric vehicles use the regenerative braking system. When braking in a PHEV or EV, the electric motor acts as a generator and converts the kinetic energy of the forward motion into electricity. The regeneration process increases the magnetic resistance of the motor, which creates the braking force. Your vehicle slows down due to the added friction in the drivetrain.

Single pedal driving is made entirely possible by regenerative braking. Electric and hybrid vehicles use electric motors to move forward, which enables regenerative braking. Electricity is fed to the electric motor to produce the rotary motion, while the generator is provided with the rotary motion to produce electricity. While driving, the rotary motion is supplied by turning the wheels and moving forward. Thus, in a sense, the generator and motor are the same units.

How Does One Pedal Driving Work?

As mentioned, single-pedal driving allows the driver to bring the car to a complete stop without using the brake pedal. Although there’s regenerative braking in hybrids and PHEVs, full single-pedal driving is primarily available for all-electric vehicles.

To engage in this driving mode, the driver has to toggle the single pedal switch. As you’re anticipating coming to a complete stop at a traffic light, you can ease your foot off the accelerator pedal. According to J.D. Power, the car will decelerate at a force of approximately .2g. This deceleration rate will equal about 20% of a full brake force and gradually slow down the vehicle.

Once the car comes to a complete stop, the hydraulic brakes will engage until you press the accelerator pedal to start moving again. Like traditional driving, single pedal driving takes a bit of practice, especially with the gentle release of the accelerator for making a smooth and progressive stop. In addition, you’ll have to get a good feel of stopping distances so you can get the timing down and safely come to a complete stop.

While using this driving feature, the brake lights will engage as if you’re driving normally with hydraulic brakes. As you release the accelerator, the brake lights will illuminate to inform the other drivers that you’re slowing down and may come to a full stop.


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More Things to Keep In Mind About One Pedal Driving

  • While the accelerator pedal is used for accelerating and braking, you can and should still use the hydraulic brakes for emergency stops.
  • Some EVs offer the ability to adjust the single pedal function and modify the braking period.
  • Once you stop with one pedal drive, the vehicle will remain in that position until the accelerator is engaged. In some EVs, the car will remain stopped on inclined roads.
  • Single pedal driving will not activate when you’re on “Park” or “Neutral.”
  • If your vehicle has adaptive cruise control and you have it enabled, one pedal mode will not activate.
  • EV manufacturers suggest turning off the one pedal mode when towing something or using an automatic car wash.

Perhaps the most critical point here is the use of hydraulic brakes for emergency stops. Whether it’s a road obstacle or a crossing pedestrian, you should know that you can apply hydraulic brakes for emergency stops at any time. Single pedal driving is a convenience feature that drivers can override when needed.


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What are the Benefits of Single Pedal Driving?

One of the top benefits of single pedal driving is it improves your EV’s driving range. According to a research journal by Frontiers in Mechanical Engineering, single pedal driving captures 5% more energy and may add as many as 13 miles to an EV’s range. It’s not the most significant increase in efficiency, but it does extend your vehicle’s driving range.

In addition, one pedal driving also extends the life of your brakes due to less wear and tear since you’re not using them as much. There’s also the environmental angle because you’re producing less brake dust in the air. Lastly, single-pedal driving lessens the stress of driving since you’re only focusing on one pedal.

Is One Pedal Driving Safe?

Yes, it’s essentially an alternative way to drive. Plus, you can hit the brakes anytime you need to stop in an emergency. However, it does take a lot of getting used to, so that’s one of its many drawbacks. Plus, it can be tricky to go back to driving with two pedals once you get used to single-pedal driving.

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