2014 BMW i3: Regenerative Brakes
March 27, 2015
The feeling of regenerative braking is one of the most overt indicators that you're driving a hybrid or electric vehicle. When you lift your foot off the accelerator pedal while driving, the car will immediately slow down, converting the forward momentum of the car back into energy for the batteries.
Our long-term 2014 BMW i3 uses a regenerative braking system that slows the car down pretty dramatically, but after just a few miles, it's easy to get used to how strong it is and modulate your pressure accordingly. If you plan far enough in advance, you can avoid using the conventional brake pedal at all.
Some hybrids and EV's (our departed long-term Tesla Model S comes to mind) will perform a similar trick when coming to a complete stop in traffic, but they won't stop completely. Without application of the conventional brake, they'll creep forward slowly.
The i3, on the other hand, will come to a complete stop without using the brake pedal at all. It also doesn't have any creep or forward movement without an input on the right pedal. Of course, you'll want to press the conventional brake if you're stopped at a light to avoid rolling forward if you're hit from behind, but there are plenty of stop-and-go scenarios in city traffic where conventional brakes aren't necessary at all.
Our long-term Model S would allow you to adjust the sensitivity in the regen-brakes, which made the car feel a bit more like a gasoline-powered car, but I'm a bigger fan of the BMW's system. It's more severe and it can't be adjusted, so you just have to get used to it. It reminds me to plan ahead in traffic, making my driving habits a bit more efficient and it certainly saves wear on the conventional brake pads/rotors.
Travis Langness, Associate Editor @ 3,492 miles