Nissan Invents The E-Pedal For Next Gen LEAF

The world will get its first look at the second generation Nissan LEAF in early September, but the company is busy taking a page from the Tesla playbook by teasing photos and information about the new car online prior to its release. The latest spy photos show a car that bears a close visual resemblance to the Chevy Bolt — or the Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix twins. In other words, its a five door hatchback with a sloping rear roof line. The new LEAF is not nearly as svelte as the Tesla Model 3, but it does offer the greater utility that only a hatchback can provide.

Nissan LEAF with e-Pedal

For 100 years, cars have had a gas pedal. But electric cars don’t use gasoline, so what to call that device that rests under our right foot and makes the car go? Accelerator is accurate but rather sterile sounding. Go pedal is too campy. Some call it the happy pedal or the “blast to pass” device. Neither quite captures the essence of what the pedal actually does. How does “e-Pedal” sound? That’s the new system coming on the 2018 Nissan LEAF that will introduce true one pedal driving.

Car makers are conflicted about electric cars. They don’t want mainstream customers to be put off by the novelty of these new transportation devices. Electric cars have one other feature that cars with internal combustion engines lack — regenerative braking. Take your foot off that right hand pedal and the electric motor becomes a generator, pumping electrons back into the battery pack to extend range.

Some EVs are programmed to “creep” at traffic lights to mimic their gas powered cousins. Some limit the amount of regenerative braking so it feels just like a conventional car on deceleration. Others allow drivers to choose between several regen settings, but they have to be selected in advance. Chevrolet uses a lever behind the steering wheel to allow drivers to crank in more regen braking.

The Nissan e-Pedal eliminates all that falderol. Push on the right pedal to go. Push harder to go faster. Ease off on the pedal to slow down. Release the pedal completely to get maximum regen and come to a complete stop. Once at rest, the e-Pedal system will keep the car stationary until the pedal is pressed again.

EV advocates like to talk about “one pedal driving.” But until now, there was often a need to used the car’s mechanical brakes for that last little bit of braking. On a hill, the driver needed to put a foot on the brake pedal to keep the car from moving after it stopped, especially on hills. Now, thanks to e-Pedal, there is no need to switch your right foot to the brake pedal anymore. Brakes on the new LEAF could come with a lifetime warranty, given how little they will be used!

Curious how all this works? Watch this happy little video from Nissan to learn more.


Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.