When you press down the brake pedal in a car, it’s understood that it engages the vehicle’s brakes. The brakes will help slow the automobile down or stop it, depending on how much force you’ve applied to the pedal.
But what if your car’s brakes somehow caused the vehicle to accelerate suddenly instead? That appears to be the main issue surrounding Nissan’s latest recall.
The automaker is recalling more than 66,000 of its Leaf series of electric vehicles (EVs) over a software issue involving its regenerative braking feature. According to Nissan’s explanation, the following conditions can cause the vehicle to continue accelerating without input until the driver hits the brakes:
- Shifting into the “B” or “Eco” settings.
- Turning on the E-pedal function immediately after disengaging cruise control or ProPilot Assist, then quickly pressing and releasing the accelerator pedal.
Notably, both conditions involve the regenerative braking function of the electric vehicle. The “B” setting is supposed to increase the amount of regenerative braking the vehicle uses. Meanwhile, the E-pedal helps activate enough regenerative braking to help slow down or stop the automobile.
Nissan stated that there had been no complaints, injuries, accidents or warranty claims related to the issue. The company has encouraged Leaf owners to take their cars to their nearest dealership, which will perform a free software update to address the problem.
What is regenerative braking?
Regenerative braking is a mechanism typically found in electric vehicles that converts kinetic energy from braking into power for the vehicle’s battery. By comparison, when a gas-powered car engages its brakes, it loses kinetic energy through friction and heat as it slows down.
The issue with Nissan’s Leaf could be due to a software quirk not activating regenerative braking, instead continuing to accelerate.
Recent problems with regenerative braking
Nissan’s problem with its EVs isn’t the only recent issue involving regenerative braking. Consumer Reports discovered in new tests that certain vehicles from other manufacturers with regenerative braking functions could fail to turn their brake lights on, raising the risk of rear-end collisions. While these two issues may not necessarily appear in the same vehicle, drivers can’t completely ignore the risks.
Suppose you own an EV and it’s being recalled multiple times for separate issues involving regenerative braking. In that case, you might be able to file a refund or replacement claim under California’s Lemon Law. Consider consulting a legal professional before filing a claim to determine if you fulfill the requirements.