The Demise Of The Handbrake

Mon 16th Sep 2019

New research has shown that more and more new cars are embracing electronic handbrakes, rather than the more traditional manual lever.

Just one in three new models in UK showrooms are fitted with manual handbrakes according to the analysis, with manufacturers phasing out the traditional method meaning they will soon become obsolete in most cars.

The new method sees drivers simply pressing a small push-button or switch which engages a pair of small motors connected to the rear brakes. Drivers know when the handbrake is engaged simply by checking the symbol on their dashboard.

The move to electronic handbrakes are favoured by many motoring organisations as they are thought to reduce human error.

Jack Cousens of the AA said: “Electronic parking devices are simple to use and reduce the scope for human error as they set the brake tension to the correct level.

“They put an end to cars rolling down inclines because the handbrake was not fully on and they make hill starts easier.

“We see it more as a consumer education issue for car buyers or hirers.

“It is simply a ten second lesson where the garage or car hire firm points out the device, so that drivers are not left scrabbling around, wondering where the handbrake is.”

The electronic handbrake was first introduced by BMW in 2001 when the 7 Series launched it, now only Dacia and Suzuki have manual handbrakes fitted across their entire range.

A spokesman fromCargurus, who compiled the research said: “It's official, the death of the handbrake is coming as manufacturers switch to electronic parking brakes in huge numbers.

“They have rapidly gone from being a novelty to what our research shows is now the norm.

“Within the next few years we expect the number of cars on sale with traditional handbrakes to decline further, likely only to be found on a select number of niche models.

“These systems might lack the tactile feel that some drivers value from a traditional manual parking brake but they bring several benefits in terms of convenience, safety and packaging.

“An electronic parking brake can engage automatically when a car's engine is switched off and many also include an auto-hold function that will apply the parking brake when a car is stopped in traffic or on a hill.

“Electronic parking brakes are also easier to install than their manual equivalents and replacing a handbrake lever with a simple button frees up more space in a car's interior – useful perhaps for an extra cup holder or two!”