How Brakes on Electric Cars Are Different

May 4th, 2023 by

Most electric vehicles use a regenerative braking system. Regenerative braking works by converting kinetic energy produced by the vehicle’s brakes back into energy for the vehicle’s battery.

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Lexus LFZ Luxury Electric VehicleIn many ways, electric cars are mechanically similar to internal combustion engine cars. However, some aspects of electric vehicles are different from traditional vehicles. Most obviously, electric cars are powered by an electric battery rather than a gas-powered engine. The use of a battery as the sole power source is one reason why EVs accelerate faster, in addition to other functional differences that arise. But another difference you may have heard about is the way brakes work on an electric vehicle. There may be some misconceptions surrounding EV brakes, and regenerative braking in particular. To clear up confusion, here’s a quick overview of how EV brakes are different, and how they are the same.

Electric Vehicle Brakes

First, it should be noted that the mechanics of how electric vehicle brakes work, as brakes, are largely unchanged. Drivers still apply force to their brake pedal to slow the vehicle. The brakes are still reliant on brake pads creating friction with brake discs to reduce the speed of your car.

Some drivers report that the brake pedal may feel different when pressed on some EV models. But this is a minor adjustment that simply takes some getting used to. When it comes to applying the brakes, nothing is changed. However, there is something interesting, and important, happening when you apply the brakes. That is regenerative braking.

What is Regenerative Braking?

Regenerative braking is a system in which the kinetic energy produced by applying the brakes is converted back into electric power for your battery. Essentially, regenerative braking recharges (or regenerates) your EV’s battery a little bit over time. Here’s how it works:

In any braking system, applying the brakes creates energy. The problem in traditional braking systems is that that energy is not put to any use. The energy created by the friction of a vehicle’s brakes without regenerative braking is simply released into the atmosphere. But with regenerative braking, that energy is recaptured and directed back to the EV’s battery. Essentially, the regenerative braking system (the wheels and motor of your vehicle) functions as a small electric generator.

Regenerative braking systems are not enough to keep a vehicle fully charged. The energy efficiency of regenerative braking depends on the vehicle model and the driver’s habits. And not all of the energy being spent to power the car is captured by the regenerative braking system. However, under ideal conditions, it is estimated that roughly 70% of the kinetic energy spent from braking can be recaptured.

Regenerative braking has a few obvious advantages. First and foremost, it can extend the range of an electric vehicle. But regenerative braking can also extend the life of brake pads and rotors in most EV models. This is because most regenerative braking systems also help slow the vehicle down when the driver releases their foot from the accelerator. As a result, less strain is put on the brakes themselves when braking. So regenerative brakes are not only more efficient for the vehicle itself. They also extend the longevity of the vehicle’s brakes, which can save drivers more money in the long-run.

How are EV Brakes Different?

Besides regenerative braking, there are a few other key mechanical differences to be found in electric vehicles. EV tires are typically larger and more durable due to EVs weighing more than traditional vehicles, for example. And, of course, EV batteries are drastically different from internal combustion engines.

You can read more about EV maintenance, battery care, or driving efficiency on our Electrified Luxury blog.

Ray Catena Auto Group has the answers to all of your questions about luxury electric vehicles and how they’re changing the face of luxury driving. Contact us to learn more about the best LEVs on the market in 2023 and LEV maintenance you can perform at home.


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