Are electric cars better than ICE at cruise control? | The Driven
kona EV
Credit: Bridie Schmidt

Here’s our latest question from a reader:

In my ICE car when cruise control is active, it does a poor job of maintaining speed when going down a steep hill. Do electric vehicles do a better job by automatically adjusting the level of regenerative braking to maintain speed?



Hi Neil – you have nicely pointed out an advantage of the EV (Electric Vehicle) over the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicle that is often missed in discussions about the benefits of EVs.

To use the example of my Kona electric – when the cruise control is turned on, it overrides my chosen regenerative braking setting and replaces it with a vehicle controlled variable regenerative braking mode.

Trying out the cruise control system on my recent trip to Sydney in fact quite surprised me.

(By the way: I usually avoid using cruise control for the reason you mention – I find the propensity for ICE vehicle cruise control systems to over-speed on downhill stretches rather annoying!)

The Kona electric not only easily held its set speed uphill, it never over-ran the set limit on the downhill stretches. It was also really interesting to note how the regenerative energy input to the battery varied when going downhill.

While I have never tried the cruise control on really steep downhill stretches – I found going down from Mt Hotham (when on the EV Long Weekend Tour) and using the highest regen braking level I rarely touched the brakes except to wash off speed for particularly tight bends – so I would suspect the system could handle it.

So in answer to your question Neil – yes, modern EVs do have the capacity to handle cruise control better than ICE as their ability to vary the level of regenerative braking gives them an advantage over ICE cruise control systems.

Bryce Gaton

We encourage questions from readers about electric vehicles, and charging, and whatever else you want to learn. Please send them through and we will get our experts to respond, and invite other people to contribute through the comments section.

Get up to 3 quotes from pre-vetted solar (and battery) installers.