Regenerative Braking vs. Coasting

Every topic must have some sort of polarized discussion. Mac vs. PC. Republican vs. Democrat. Solar vs. Nuclear. Well, regenerative braking vs. coasting is the electric vehicle discussion.

Earlier, we discussed what regenerative braking is, so I won’t cover that any further. Coasting? Well, that should be fairly clear. It is shifting the car into neutral while the car is moving.

Benefits of regenerative braking:

  • You get some of your inertial motion energy back as battery power — usually around 70%.
  • Saves wear and tear on brakes. In truth, with high levels of regenerative braking, your brakes should last the life of the car.
  • Allows for one-foot driving. You can accelerate and decelerate using just your accelerator pedal.

Benefits of coasting:

  • 100% of your forward momentum is left alone. Only aerodynamic and frictional losses reduce your forward momentum.

Disadvantage of regenerative braking:

  • Unless you’re very careful with your accelerator, it’s easy to be continually using energy then gathering energy back and forth. This isn’t as efficient as coasting.
  • Getting used to one-foot driving takes some time and practice.

Disadvantage of coasting:

  • You have to shift the vehicle into neutral. In emergency situations, you could not accelerate out of harm’s way without shifting back into a driving mode.
  • Doesn’t work well in stop-and-go traffic situations.

There you have it. Arguments for and against both sides. As for me, since I drive in traffic a lot here in Dallas, I use regenerative braking exclusively. In fact, I use the highest setting of regenerative braking and, as a side effect, get city mileage range well beyond the EPA ratings. As always, your mileage may vary.

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