How does the Nissan e-Pedal work?

Nissan's new e-Pedal is a revolutionary piece of tech. But how does it work?

Simon Ostler
Feb 28, 2020

When it launched in 2010, the Nissan Leaf has brought a lot of new things to the automotive industry. It was the first mass-market electric car, and as a result it included a lot of features and a lot of concepts that we had never seen before. Among them was the e-Pedal, a curious device that had the potential to change the way we drive. 

The general idea was that you could place virtually all speed control into one pedal, meaning you could accelerate and decelerate using just your right foot. It was different, entirely new, and very polarising. While it received a lot of criticism from conservative onlookers questioning how it would feel, and how it would work, there was an uncanny acceptance as gradually more and more people actually got to drive the Leaf.

So how does the Nissan e-Pedal work? Well, for starters, it's not a pedal, merely a switch on the dashboard that, if you turn it on, changes the function of the accelerator pedal. You put your foot down like you would in a normal car, and you start moving. Take your foot off the pedal, however, and you'll feel the car start to decelerate at a more extreme rate than a normal car, and eventually you will stop - it's a similar sensation to slow and gentle progressive braking - the e-Pedal will even hold you still on a hill.

When the e-Pedal is switched on, the accelerator will become much stiffer, meaning you get a much stronger feel with your right foot which can allow you to be more precise with your inputs - it's clever, because you'd otherwise find yourself constantly lurching as the car accelerated and braked with every slight movement.

What's it like to drive with the e-Pedal?

The e-Pedal generally takes a few miles to get used to, you may find initially that the braking power when you lift off the accelerator is much stronger than you'd bargained for, but after a few minutes this new sensation goes away and it's very easy to get a feel for how the car reacts to your input.

It's at this point that the Nissan Leaf becomes a real joy to drive. Getting the right balance on the pedal makes it feel so much more engaging, you're under constant - and instant - control which can make it possible to complete full journeys without having to ever use the actual brake pedal - yes, the Leaf does have a brake pedal for emergency braking - although it's worth noting the brakes also become much stiffer with the e-Pedal switched on.

You can, however, ignore the e-Pedal completely, and drive the Nissan Leaf like you would any other electric car. The fact it is an entirely optional gadget is the biggest positive about it, so anyone who would rather stick to what they know can do so without a problem.

It's also worth noting that lifting off when the e-Pedal is switched on will cause the brake lights to illuminate, so you won't be catching fellow drivers unawares with any sudden deceleration.

Do other electric cars use the e-Pedal?

The e-Pedal itself is patented by Nissan, so it is only the Leaf that makes use of that particular tech. There are many other electric cars such as the BMW i3 now available however that use similar technology to regenerate energy when you lift off the throttle.

Why use the e-Pedal?

Aside from the fact it makes driving the Nissan Leaf more engaging, the e-Pedal is used to give the car energy via regenerative braking. This is where energy created during braking or decelerating with the e-Pedal is recycled back into the batteries to recharge them. As a result, using the e-Pedal has the potential to give you more electric range.

 

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