Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Case of the Creeps?

There's a hill at the end of my street and the car rolls backwards a bit when a release the friction brake if I don't activate the anti rollback feature. A simulated transmission creep would eliminate this.

There are a lot of differences in EV's and internal combustion cars. The fuel used to propel the vehicle is obviously the biggest difference, then the different sound and feel of the electric drivetrain followed closely by the regenerative braking which, if strong like it is on the MINI-E, can take a bit of driving to really get used to.

Then there are the less obvious differences like the single speed gearbox. Shifting gears is not necessary so it is like driving an automatic transmission car, however when you stop, the car will roll forwards or backwards if you are on an incline or decline like a manual transmission car would if it wasn't in gear and your foot wasn't on the brake pedal.

Virtually every car with an automatic transmission built in the past four or five decades has had what we have called the idle creep feature. Anyone that has driven an automatic transmission expects the car to slowly move forward when you release the brake pedal even if they don't depress the accelerator. This feature is useful when you are stopped on an incline as it helps the car from not rolling backwards the instant you release the brake. It can also be helpful when parallel parking. By slowly moving forward without needing the depress the accelerator, the driver won't run the risk of lunging forward too quickly and perhaps hitting the car in front of you when squeezing into a tight parking spot.

Yet, despite the benefits of having "the creep" most EV owners I know say they don't want it on their EV and implore auto manufacturers not to copy ICE vehicle features when they design their EV's. I don't necessarily want them to omit features just because by doing so it will keep EV's "pure". If the feature makes the car better than put it in, but if they are putting it in just to make the car more familiar to the drivers, than I'm not sure I'm in favor if it. The real question is do current EV drivers and potential future EV owners want it? That's what I'm interested in hearing. So what do you think? Do you want the creeps?

Please enter your vote on the poll at the top right side of this blog and leave a comment to explain why you voted the way you did. 


  1. If you drive a manual then you already don't have the creeps. Also, there are many cars that don't move forward when on their own since they idle low. It seems to me that it would be safer to not have the car move either forward or reverse unless you are pressing the accelerator pedal. The good thing with EV's is that you can adjust this on the fly if you want though.

  2. I've driven a Tesla roadster and that has a mild creep. Not sure about the leaf though. I think it would be probably better left off and treat it like a manual transmission. However there should be a lock so that the car doesn't roll backwards if it's in drive. That way the driver doesn't have to use the e-brake to prevent rollback on steep hills like what is common throughout San Francisco

  3. Modern EVs without creep have hill start assist. Even my gas car has it, as it has such a low creep I'll roll back even on the slightest hill. Forward creep is a waste of energy. If I want to go forward, I'll hit the accelerator. If I don't want to roll back, I'll depress the brake.

    That said, there is also a safety issue involved. Automakers don't want a car to be in drive w/o anyone at the wheel (i.e. accidentally leaving it in drive while vacuuming, then hitting the accelerator pedal). The MINI E solves this by having a sensor in the drivers seat to make sure someone is sitting there. If the driver exits, the car shifts to neutral.

  4. If we had creep in an electric car, would we call it creepE?


  5. I'm voting against it. I don't think it adds anything to the car. It doesn't make the car safer and I'm not buying that it helps in tight parallel parking. It's just not necessary. If they feel they need to have this available for those that just can't adjust to something new then offer an option to disable it if so desired.


  6. No, No, No, No, No, No, NO!

    Some modern automatics don't creep. When the car is stopt it should not drive away by itself; that's just an accident waiting to happen.

  7. Michael: I agree with you, I just wanted to hear what everyone else has to say about this.

    I was over at Tesla Motors Club and I was really surprised to see a poll like this one where 70% of the respondents said they wanted the transmission creep and I assume many of them drive roadsters. Why do you think they voted that way?

  8. NO CREEP! Manual transmissions don't creep and there are no problem parallel parking them as long as you know how to drive. Why add this? I know both the leaf and volt have this simulated crep and I find it revolting. It must be a case of the automotive engineers assuming that since it's been that way on automatics for so long it must be proper. Rubbish

  9. I'm not really passionate either way. Wouldn't bother me if it had it but I wouldn't lobby for it either and I don't think it's something that is necessary.
    I'm waiting for the Ford Focus EV to go on sale here in Pennsylvania. Do you know if it has this or not? I haven't read anything about this on any of the forums.

  10. It's a waste of energy, please NO!

  11. I think the American public might be more accepting of this than that of Europeans. Automatic transmissions are not nearly as prevalent in Europe as they are in the States. Most are accustomed to the driving characteristics of Manual transmissions in Europe and that isn't so in the States. This should be a feature that you can turn on and off as you wish. Everybody wins

  12. Not necessary and I don't see any real advantage. You claim it can be of assistance when parallel parking. I disagree. I'd prefer my car without it or at least a setting that would allow me to control or disable it

  13. Untold millions of drivers are accustomed to this deliberate tendency to roll forward slightly after releasing the brakes. I therefore believe it’s likely many drivers would find it hard to adjust to NOT having this “creep”. Therefore, it would be best to simply "keep the creep", but include a “creep disable” switch on all EVs allowing drivers to choose.

  14. It's like everything else. For about a week the driver may miss it, not because they need it but because they are used to it. It wouldn't take long for them to be comfortable driving the car without it.

    The real question is: Does the creep make the car better? I'm not sure it does, but I don't think it makes it worse either. It must use energy though. How much? Will the car be applying the energy to move the car forward like an automatic transmission on an ice does while my foot is on the brake pedal holding the car back? If so that will definitely waste more energy that I'm willing to sacrifice. Or does the car initiate the creep the instant the brake pedal is released, in which case there
    would probably be very little wasted energy?

    I guess I wouldn't mind it if it initiates as soon as you release the brake, but definitely has a hill assist. Also, as many others have suggested the best thing to do is have the ability for the driver to disable it if they so choose to.

  15. Hey Tom,

    I hope you write something about this event:

    Greets, Matt