2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid - Question on slowing speed

I was a mechanical engineering freshman student in 75-76 when I designed an electric-gasoline car that charged the batteries using an alternator combined to the rear end/ differential. All my physics and engineering instructors said it defies the laws of physics and would not work. This, along with other unique ideas, led me to leave college.

Fast forward to 2012, and 3 engineering degrees later, I decided to purchase a Camry hybrid. This has been an excellent car where I have a unique question for you. Toyota has a transmission gear position called B which is for regenerative braking. Since I live in the San Francisco Bay area, with many interstates and highways for typical transportation, I’m constantly slowing my speed for these changes. When I decide to decrease my speed, I simply move the gear section to the B or regenerative braking position, to slow my speed down. This way I rarely use my brakes and use them minimally. I even use this method driving down streets and looking ahead for the stoplights.

Does this compromise the drivetrain or anything on my car using this methodology?

This sounds like a good way to experience ’ Road Rage ’ and you have 3 engineering degrees so what ever you think should be better than strangers on the web.

Very cool. I also worked on green cars when I was in college. I designed a cooling system for EV batteries (1990). I like your idea about trying to be actively involved in your hybrid’s efficiency. However, I don’t think you can do much more than the Camry Hybrid will do on its own. What you would really love is the paddle shifters on some EVs that increase the regenerative braking force when you use them. Each pull of the paddle makes the car’s regen system more powerfully slow the car. I love it. It is sort of like downshifting a car with a manual transmission as you approach a corner. Another thing you would love is one-pedal driving. It is a setting on most EVs that allows you to opt to have the regen braking be very aggressive. In practice, you barely need the brake. You really only use the friction brakes for sudden braking. If your budget allows for it, I hope you will try an EV, or at least a plug-in hybrid. There are many cool active systems that allow you to participate in the energy savings. You might like this comparison story.

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Diesel-electric locomotives have been doing this for 70 years, though the generated electricity is dumped into banks of resistors and wasted as heat rather than used to charge batteries. Hobby grade radio control vehicles have used regenerative braking since the 80s. Toyota would not have included it if it harmed the drivetrain.

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That’s the way it was intended to be used.
The “gas” pedal becomes a combination accelerator/brake.
The brake lights automatically come on when decelerating, so as not to confuse vehicles behind you.
Other electric vehicles, like my scooter, have this same feature.

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