EVs and Brake Dust: Sorting Out Confusing Regulatory Questions

Sign up for our weekly email to stay on top of the latest news and insights!

The following article by Jennifer Sensiba, posted on CleanTechnica.com, addresses a growing controversy or misunderstanding (depending upon one’s perspective) of the relationship between the amount of brake dust produced by electric-vehicles (EVs) as governments take on the task of regulating the amount of particulate matter “produced” by a vehicle.

EVs, which are heavier than comparable internal-combustion-engined vehicles (ICE), thus might produce more particulate matter during friction-braking incidents, but thanks to regenerative braking, the amount of the friction-brake utilization is much less than in the comparable ICE vehicle.

European Regulators Don’t Really Think EVs Make More Brake Dust, But They’re Still Being Foolish

I read an article earlier today that I found very confusing. An article at Green Car Reports said that some European regulators think EVs shouldn’t be exempted from emissions standards, because they might be emitting more brake dust than conventional vehicles. After digging into it more, I’m still skeptical of what Euro regulators are pushing, but I did find that they don’t really think EVs make more brake dust.

Why EVs Making More Brake Dust Makes No Sense

If you know basically anything about EVs, you know that there’s really no way they could make more brake dust than a comparable gas-powered vehicle. There’s one exception, though, and that’s an EV without regenerative braking (no commercially made EVs I know of are like this, but some conversions are).

While regenerative braking doesn’t recapture all of the energy, it does put a good chunk of it back into the battery pack when you stop, while regular friction brakes convert the energy of a moving vehicle into heat to slow it down. But if you’ve washed a gas-powered car before, you know that cleaning the front wheels is harder than the back ones, because brake dust comes off of the brake pads when you stop, making a nasty mess. Sadly, this dust is worse for your health than it is for wheels (PM 2.5), and that’s why European regulators are concerned.

Sign up for our weekly email to stay on top of the latest news and insights!

Put more simply, just think about how long the brakes last on an EV compared to most gas-powered cars. If brakes are making brake dust, that dust has to come from somewhere (hint: it’s the brake pads). So, if the brake pads are lasting longer, the vehicle’s brakes must be making less brake dust. It’s really that simple.

So, when I read that some regulator thinks EVs make more brake dust, that set off my bullshit alarm.

To view the entire post by Ms. Sensiba on CleanTechnica.com, click HERE.

The Brake Report
The Brake Report

The BRAKE Report is an online media platform dedicated to the automotive and commercial vehicle brake segments. Our mission is to provide the global brake community with the latest news & headlines from around the industry.