How does it work and what are the benefits?

You may have heard of the famous “one-pedal driving” expensive for some electric vehicle drivers. Behind this term, we are going to detail what is hidden, to help you fully understand this totally different and innovative way of driving in the automotive sector.

Volkswagen ID.4 pedals

The electric car represents a radical change for the vast majority of drivers. In addition to the charge you have to get used to, the way of driving is fundamentally different, with an emphasis on anticipation and control of consumption.

One of the electric car driver’s best allies is one-pedal driving, to which we will return in detail. We’ll first recap what there is to know about regenerative braking, before focusing on the benefits of one-pedal driving in terms of comfort and fuel economy.

regenerative braking

You’re probably aware that when driving an electric car, you have to deal with regenerative braking. Something almost unprecedented in the world of thermal vehicles, it all boils down to having a very powerful engine brake, allowing the vehicle to be reduced considerably when the foot no longer presses the accelerator. The deceleration force is so high that the brake lights often come on.

In practice, therefore, an informed driver of an electric car intelligently doses regenerative braking by partially lifting his foot off the accelerator, to avoid the application of friction braking (conventional brakes).

The great advantage of regenerative braking is that it helps to recharge the electric vehicle battery, turning the engine into a generator. We have summarized the operation in detail in this file if you want to understand this technology better.

Some cars allow the level of regenerative braking to be modulated, going from inertia (no braking) to a complete stop without having to touch the brake pedal. This is then called one-pedal driving, which is so popular with most electric drivers.

A smoother and more pleasant ride

Daily, One pedal driving eliminates the need to touch the brake pedal, except for emergencies. In fact, we’re not yet at the point where manufacturers can just ditch the brake pedal, but of course touching it can quickly become a very rare event.

When an electric car offers one-pedal driving, after a short adjustment period it is possible to adjust the throttle release to come to a complete stop without braking and at the desired level. Indeed, it is not enough to stop several meters before a stop sign for this to be satisfactory, but you really have to master the thing to be able to maneuver properly.

The Nissan Leaf’s e-Pedal system allows for one-pedal driving.

Regenerative braking, however, reaches its limits once the vehicle reaches around a few miles per hour, and the brake pads grip the discs tightly to allow you to come to a complete stop. The difference is that this operation is automatic and managed by the vehicle’s software, not by the driver’s foot.

In addition, the exercises at low speed for parking can be done with the foot on the accelerator and not on the brake, as is often the case, which therefore requires changing your habits so as not to be surprised.

In electric vehicles that allow driving with one pedal, the rule is as follows: if the accelerator pedal is not pressed, the vehicle does not move, unlike thermal vehicles with automatic transmission.

The first situations where you need to maneuver to park can be disconcerting, but once you get used to it, you don’t want to go back, as the management of motor skills is so precise. In addition, consumption is optimized thanks to this driving mode that is very suitable for urban environments, as we will see below.

Lower fuel consumption in urban areas

As we mentioned above, regenerative braking is the electric car driver’s ally. In urban areas, this is also what makes it possible to obtain very low consumption, unlike thermal vehicles that are less comfortable in this exercise.

In concrete terms, by maximizing regenerative braking to come to a complete stop instead of stopping, it is possible to recover up to 25% more autonomy over a WLTP cycle, which is far from negligible.

The consumption of the Seat Mii Electric // Source: Bob Jouy for Frandroid

As urban environments are conducive to frequent gear changes, mastering one-pedal driving is an advantage not to be overlooked. Among current vehicles that offer one-pedal driving, the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y stand out as good performers, with excellent powertrain management and low-speed regenerative braking.

This is one of the reasons that put Tesla at the top of the ranking of electric vehicles with less consumption, despite its often substantial weight compared to smaller city cars.


Driving with a pedal is one of the many advantages of electric vehicles, which must be understood at the start. Driver comfort is unparalleled and the gains in terms of consumption are substantial..

One of the first cars to feature one-pedal driving was the Nissan Leaf 2 and its e-pedal mode, which gained a huge following. Nowadays, some electric cars use paddles on the steering wheel to adjust the intensity of regenerative braking (Hyundai Ioniq 5, Audi Q4 e-tron) and allow you to come to a complete stop.

While this requires drastically transforming the way you drive, relying heavily on anticipation rather than reaction, one-pedal driving is one of the “essentials” an electric driver must master.

be careful though in extreme cold or battery overcharged: regenerative braking may be limitedand it is then necessary to find the brake pedal reflex to stop.

But this is less and less true as manufacturers such as Tesla manage to manage this situation in software, automatically boosting the mechanical brake when regenerative braking is weaker.

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