I’ve been writing on this blog for more than 5 years, but so far didn’t know Ford actually put regenerative braking into cars before the Prius had even been on the drawing table (disclaimer: I don’t work for them, nor have an advertisement deal with them).
They now brag with their regen braking systems of having saved the world a whopping 100 million gallons of gas over the past 15 years. The first cars to implement it were built in the 90’s in the Ford Ranger and Ecostar electric vehicles. However, the system only matured in the ’04 Escape cross/utility HEV.
“We’re recapturing up to 95% of kinetic energy that would otherwise go to waste,” Dale Crombez, a Ford technical expert on regenerative braking systems, “and that’s compared with 30% to 50% for some other auto makers.”
Crombez says Ford’s technology does that by building brake-by-wire braking systems, where your foot doesn’t mechanically stop the car, but acts on an electronic system that first applies the regenerative braking and when it can’t handle the demand, it releases the mechanical (friction) brakes (in addition to the electric motor charging the battery).
He also says the key to driving economically is avoiding quick brakes, so the regen system can kick in and the car doesn’t have to use the friction brakes.