No breaks! Will future EVs completely eliminate friction pads?

A prototype of the Stellantis DS Automobiles aims for a future where brake dust and brake-pad replacement may be a thing of the past – looking for regenerative braking as the only way to brake a vehicle.

Regenerative braking, which converts the EVR motor system into a generator when the vehicle needs to be slowed down, has already been used to some extent in most electric vehicles and hybrids. It provides power that can later be packed into batteries, improves efficiency and can extend the life of brake pads several times longer than petrol vehicles.

Called the E Tennis Performance, the prototype is based on racing experience and was actually created in conjunction with the brand’s Formula E team. It can use 600 kW regenerative braking – basically its dual-motor system is the same as the forward power at 815 hp – to slow down the vehicle and brake it at full stop. Although DS says the prototype is fitted with a conventional Formula E braking system, it says it renders it “completely unnecessary.”

DS E Tense Performance Prototype

DS E Tense Performance Prototype

DS has also given E Tense performance racing-level acceleration. It can reach 62 miles per hour in two seconds and it is not clear whether it is connected or rated with 350-kW DC fast charging, battery size not disclosed – it can “complete” a charge in five minutes.

There is a lot of environmental potential in avoiding friction pads. Researchers have suggested that brake pads (including tires) are a major source of fine-grained pollutants, leading to some proposed innovations in how to collect car dust before it is removed.

Although some EVs may come to a complete stop, or almost so, with mild slowness, they still need friction brakes for the last few feet, even in so-called one-pedal driving mode. Most rely on complex brake-blending rather than phasing on the friction pad — or enabling abrupt braking — although some EV manufacturers, including Tesla and Lucid, choose to use friction-brake for the brake paddle.

DS E Tense Performance Prototype

DS E Tense Performance Prototype

There are a number of questions about how this will work in real life situations. When the battery pack is at 100%, most electric vehicles do not have (or almost never have) a brake region because the pack can no longer be charged. Much of the current depends on the EVO brake pads and an open differential for “vector” torque as needed.

Although motor-vehicle regulations will prevent automakers from removing brakes from vehicles in the near future, it is a way to simplify future automobiles as they improve.

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