A to Z of Car Tech: R is for rear-wheel-drive and regenerative braking

The letter R in our A to Z of car cech series examines regenerative braking, rear-wheel-drive and more…

The technology contained within the modern motor car can be both fascinating and slightly baffling. Most such technology exists to make our cars safer, more efficient and just better than ever to drive but some of it can be quite confusing for the average motorist. In this A to Z series we will attempt to unravel the mystery of technology that is the modern motor car. This week, we’re visiting the letter R…

R is for…regenerative braking. Used by everything from a modern Formula One car to a Formula E car - and by hybrids and fully electric vehicles as well - regenerative brakes are a clever way of creating and then storing the energy that’s produced when braking.

Such systems work by converting the kinetic energy that a vehicle produces when braking, more often than not using an electric motor, and then storing it in a battery pack, or occasionally in a spinning flywheel.

This energy is then reissued via the same electric motor whenever it’s required, for example when the driver re-applies the throttle after braking.

Some regenerative braking systems will also produce small amounts of energy by tickling the brakes in certain circumstances, even when the driver isn’t pressing the brake pedal, such as when going down a steep hill.

R is for…rear-wheel-drive. In theory, rear-wheel-drive is still the purest layout to have - be that in a front-engined car or even a mid or rear engine one - because by not putting any drive through the front wheels, the steering system remains unaffected by the throttle, and is therefore clearer in its response.

Most rear wheel-drive cars will use longitudinally mounted engines that live in the nose of the car. Power is then sent to the rear wheels from the engine’s crankshaft via a prop shaft, which then connects to a differential at the rear axle, and then to the driveshafts and so on.

All mid or rear-engined cars are either rear or four-wheel-drive. The idea of a mid-engined front-wheel-drive car would, after all, seem like the answer to a question no one has ever bothered to ask.

Next, the letter S…

A-Z of car tech

Most Popular

New 2021 Volkswagen Taigo coupe-SUV breaks cover
Volkswagen Taigo R-Line - front
Volkswagen Taigo

New 2021 Volkswagen Taigo coupe-SUV breaks cover

The new VW Taigo is a sportier, more aggressive looking version of the brand’s T-Cross and is aimed at lifestyle buyers
29 Jul 2021
New Bowler Defender Challenge review
Bowler Defender Challenge - front
Land Rover Defender

New Bowler Defender Challenge review

The new Defender Challenge is the first Bowler under JLR ownership, and it’s a cracker
28 Jul 2021
New 2021 Kia EV6 boasts up to 328 miles of range
Kia EV6 - front
Kia EV6

New 2021 Kia EV6 boasts up to 328 miles of range

Kia reveals more specs for its bespoke electric car, with the EV6 offering long range and an 18-minute 80 per cent rapid recharge time
21 Jul 2021