Nissan Tries to Make the Brake Pedal Obsolete in Next-gen Leaf

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
nissan tries to make the brake pedal obsolete in next gen leaf

What’s an e-Pedal? No, it’s not some dorky electric bicycle built by Ford, though that scenario doesn’t sound far fetched.

As the steady decline of manual transmission availability brings the three-pedal lifestyle ever-closer to oblivion, the e-Pedal is Nissan’s way of sending the two-pedal setup a step closer to obsolescence. Will cars in the heady, electrically powered future contain just one pedal? Maybe. Maybe not. But starting late this year, one Nissan model will allow drivers the choice of accelerating and braking with just one pedal.

Details of the second-generation Leaf, due for a September 6th reveal, have trickled out of Nissan ever since it realized the kind of buzz an automaker can generate by going the Dodge Demon route. Oh, there’ll be a shapely new body, semi-autonomous driving capability, even headlights! After languishing on the market as rivals passed it by, the increasingly outdated EV also adds a far greater range for its second generation.

Now, Nissan promises a brake pedal designed to gather dust. The brand’s new e-Pedal, found in the 2018 Leaf, allows — with the push of a button — the ability to speed up, slow down, and hold a stop via the pedal on the right.

Minus the sporting abilities of high-zoot models, it’s hardly wowing driving an EV. The vehicles creep forward when in Drive, just like an automatic-equipped internal combustion model. At speed, an EV loses momentum when the driver eases off the accelerator, albeit more quickly, thanks to regenerative coasting. In some cases, such as in the defunct Tesla Roadster, the braking effect while coasting is extreme. For the next Leaf, Nissan ups the regeneration to the degree that it can stop the car on its own, and quickly, after lifting off the “gas.”

Of course, that’s if the driver chooses to. The boring old brake pedal still exists for those weirded out by the trick e-Pedal, but it’s clear where Nissan’s enthusiasm lies. Perhaps even its intentions.

While the Leaf’s new do-everything pedal is indeed an advancement, it’s hardly revolutionary. It simply goes further than past efforts. Chevrolet’s all-electric Bolt offers enhanced braking effect when the transmission is in Low, and a steering column-mounted “regen paddle” goes a step further, bringing the car to a stop in certain situations. Of course, lifting off the accelerator is easier than holding down a paddle, and the Leaf’s setup hold the car at rest, even on hills.

“Drivers can cover 90% of their driving needs with the e-Pedal, making the process of driving more exciting,” the automaker stated in a release. “In heavy traffic and during city commutes, drivers will greatly reduce the need to shift from one pedal to the other, making your drive simpler and more engaging.”

One assumes the brake lights shine the moment drivers lift off the throttle while in e-Pedal mode. That’s likely the case, as General Motors saw some backlash from the Bolt’s brake lamps staying dark during heavy braking-coasting. Still, it remains to be seen whether the e-Pedal system activates the taillights earlier in the process, at a certain tipping point in braking effort, and whether the existence of an actual brake pedal ends up confusing drivers in emergency situations.

[Image: Nissan]

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  • Shortest Circuit Shortest Circuit on Jul 21, 2017

    Mercedes did it first. The first-gen SBC-equipped cars (W211 E-Class, R230 SL and all Maybachs) had a function that was later deleted by a software update, but it would put the SBC into a mode where you could drive only by using the throttle. It was interesting, basically accelerating worked normally, and the speed with you lifted your foot from the accelerator determined how hard the car would brake. I did not see much use for it in normal circumstances, but in stop-and-go traffic I thought it to be a godsend, first you aren't blinding the following traffic with brakelights, second with minimal practice you could absolve the nicest stops.

  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Jul 21, 2017

    At least the kids growing up with a Power Wheels vehicle will find it very familiar!

  • FreedMike I don't know why this dash shocks anyone - the whole "touchscreen uber alles" thing is pure Tesla.
  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.