Among the many benefits that hybrid and full electric cars provide to consumers is the ability to regenerate some of the energy that is lost in acceleration and use of the throttle in general.

That’s right everyone, regenerative braking and coasting is the closest thing that we can think of to having your cake and eating it too!!!

When you coast or brake in a hybrid or electric car, you actually change the flow of current so that the electric motor which was used to move the car when you pressed the throttle now becomes a generator and converts the car’s motion, or kinetic energy, back into power that can be stored in the battery.

Pretty slick, don’t you think?

We do.

And, it’s hardly new technology or even technology reserved just for us geeky types.

For example, F1, widely considered the pinnacle of motorsport and motorsport technology, uses a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) on all of their current racecars from Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, and Renault.  Effectively, these positively incredible racecars are hybrids that take full advantage of their ability to regenerate power through braking.  Plus, to achieve the narrowest of competitive edges in this sport of $500 million annual team budgets, race engineers have been able to reach astounding levels of efficiency in regeneration.

These days, owning a hybrid car or a full electric car is akin to owning some of the technology that powers the world’s most capable racecars.

The next question is, how do you put that technology to use, and how to get the biggest bang for spending dollar?

Ecodriving.

More specifically ecodriving that is specific to vehicles that have regenerative braking capability.

Coasting when possible has always been a fundamental part of ecodriving, and it is something that we have talked about  - check it out – but, when we coast in a hybrid or full electric there are some differences to coasting in typical internal combustion only vehicles.

The biggest difference you will feel is the engagement of the generator.  It will feel like increased drag on the car as you coast.  That’s because it is increased drag.  The vehicle is in the process of converting some of the energy that you used to accelerate in the firs place, back in to electrical energy for the battery.

What that means to you as a driver, is that you need to be especially aware of your surroundings and take advantage of coasting opportunities whenever possible.  Those opportunities can really pay off in the long and short runs.

The other area of regeneration that can be made more efficient is the process of braking.  When you can, you want to be able to brake lightly and evenly to ensure that you are getting as much of that transfer of kinetic energy into electrical energy as possible.

Hard, late braking does not allow the generator to harness as much of that kinetic energy, and ends up releasing much of that energy in heat – a wasted by product.

Bummer.

Driven properly, hyrbid and electric vehicles provide all kinds of opportunities to keep recycling your energy and making the monthly payments for the car, worth it!

Oh, and don’t forget to take another slice of that cake!!

Ecodriving – it works.

 

About Mike Speck

Lead facilitator and Master Ecodriving trainer for Ecodriving Solutions.
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