2 Sep, 2021

Most people equate a car’s performance to the size and output of the engine under its hood. But bigger isn’t always better. As any Formula 1 fan will tell you, there is a lot more to a vehicle’s on-road performance than just the horsepower it can muster. And some of the power in today’s cars come from a rather unlikely source. 

‘Regenerative braking’ is a term that is quickly becoming popular, and you have likely come across it while reading auto blogs or magazines lately. Also called Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS), this technology promises to reduce energy consumption in electric vehicles (EVs) significantly. It is also billed as the latest breakthrough in terms of delivering better braking power. So let’s discover more about regenerative braking.

Regenerative braking explained

Traditional brakes use friction to bring a car to a halt. This friction is generated when the brake discs come into contact with the wheels as soon as you hit the brakes. Unfortunately, much of the heat energy that is generated gets wasted. Engineers have now borrowed a concept long used in electric trains to recycle some of this energy and route it back to the EV’s battery. While regenerative braking technology is used in many diesel and petrol cars, EVs – like the MG ZS – use it as the primary braking system (with hydraulic brakes as backup). Ultimately, it offers better fuel efficiency and mileage- top priorities for any Indian vehicle owner!

Here’s how it works: regenerative brakes use an electric motor instead of discs (or drums) to slow down the car. In EVs, these motors are built into the wheel hubs and are known as in-wheel motors. The motors capture the energy generated by the forward motion of the vehicle even as it decelerates. This energy is fed back into the battery and used to power the acceleration phase.

The pros of regenerative braking:

As an EV owner, you would naturally want to get as much mileage out of your battery as you possibly can. After all, while charging stations are being set up across the country, they are not as widespread as regular fuel pumps. In a typical urban setting, you can expect to brake several times a day at traffic signals or while driving over speed breakers. And the energy generated at such times (which would otherwise be wasted by conventional brakes) can be better used.

Regenerative braking helps conserve up to 70% of the energy generated when stopping your EV, allowing you to go much further on a single charge. In fact, today’s EVs average around 250 miles or 402 km per charge, depending on factors like vehicle size, traffic conditions, and the terrain you are on.       

Multi-mode regenerative braking?

Now, what if you could control the amount of power diverted to the brakes even before you started your car? Your daily commute would be smoother, and you wouldn’t have to glance at the battery indicator half as often! Say hello to multi-mode regenerative braking.

The sporty MG ZS 2021 makes this and a whole lot more possible. For starters, the latest ZS edition packs a brand new 44.5Kwh power pack, which provides a mileage of 419* km – a 23% increase over the 340km offered by the baseline variant unveiled last year. What’s equally impressive is that it also lets you pre-set the transmission to three different regenerative braking levels- light, moderate and heavy. 

  • Light: As the name suggests, this level minimises the braking power while increasing the range that the car travels before coming to a halt.
  • Moderate: This level scales the braking power up a notch from the first level, making it ideal for regular driving conditions.
  • Heavy: This level brings to bear the full power capacity, ideal for shorter distances and more frequent braking.

Each level corresponds to three driving modes- Eco, Normal, and Sport- that can be selected via rocker switches just below the ‘centre stack’. 

As you might imagine, the Eco mode is the one to use on city roads. Depending on how much you drive, it can allow you to get by for a few days without recharging your EV’s battery. The Normal mode is best when you need both performance and economy, while the Sport mode ramps up power for those winding mountain roads on the way to your monsoon getaway.

With better efficiency, higher mileage and greener solutions, there’s no reason why an EV shouldn’t be your next best way to #ChangeWhatYouCan.