Automotive

Continental designs electric parking brake for cars with drum brakes

The electric parking brake can assist in hill parking
The electric parking brake can assist in hill parking
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The electric parking brake can assist in hill parking
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The electric parking brake can assist in hill parking
The Continental EPB
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The Continental EPB

If you've ever wondered why your car is acting sluggish and has a burning smell only to discover that you've forgotten to release the parking brake, take heart. Automotive supplier Continental is developing an Electric Parking Brake (EPB) for drum brakes that's designed to bring this functionality out of the luxury cars and into the economy segment. As well as opening up new possibilities for car designers, it may also be integrated into driver assist systems that can remove the brake as you touch the accelerator.

Intended to fit into current rear-axle brake designs, the electro-mechanical Continental EPB is made up of two actuators built into the rear axle’s drum-brake base panel. These are controlled by software and electronics in the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system found in many light compacts. In addition, there’s a dual-acting hydraulic cylinder for the service brake. According to Continental, this arrangement provides a lightweight, low-cost, low-maintenance, electric parking brake that is also mechanically simpler than conventional versions.

Continental says that the EPB provides several advantages for small cars. Because it does away with the need for a parking brake lever in favor of a button, it will allow car designers more freedom in configuring the car’s interior and control layouts. In addition, the brake can now work with driver assist systems that could activate, deactivate, and configure the brake in specific situations, such as releasing the brake automatically when the accelerator is applied or helping in hill parking.

The Continental EPB
The Continental EPB

After the EPB goes into production in 2017, Continental sees the EPB being applied to duo-servo brakes common on light trucks and SUVs before expanding to replace mechanical parking brakes in the same way that automatic gearboxes are being phased out.

"We expect the hand-brake lever to gradually disappear from more and more cars of different classes over the next ten years," says Continental’s Matthias Matic. "Instead, the cars will be equipped with electric parking brakes. One car in four in Europe will feature an electric parking brake by 2015. That’s more than five times as many as in 2008."

Source: Continental

14 comments
Anne Ominous
The only drawback being, of course, that it activates when and how the car manufacturer thinks it should, rather than how you think it should. No more power turns, guys. Man, movie chase scenes will really suck now. I mean more.
Bill Bennett
I cannot think of one modern car that has drum brakes.
Milton
@Bill: What I don't understand is... in this day and age, and with so many cars out there w/ discs... how is it that drums are still a more cost-effective solution to rear-brakes? (my new car has drums... doesn't bother me since I'll likely never go through a set of pads (hybrid))
Slowburn
Because some people are not smart enough to put the parking break on adequately they are going to put another expensive part to break down on the car.
Mel Tisdale
@ Bill Bennett Many rear disc systems have a built in drum for the parking brake. It would be nice if this system can be made to apply the parking brake in response to a quick stab on the footbrake when stationary, the way some Mercedes do, which is a godsend in heavy traffic, especially in an automatic (with automatic release on application of the throttle). Whilst Slowburn is correct in that it is another expensive part to fail, I think that anyone who drives regularly in heavy (i.e. stop-start) traffic would be happy to sacrifice the cost of the odd repair for the transformation such systems can make to the driving experience. I drove in London for about three years and was eternally grateful for the Mercedes parking brake system.
Slowburn
@ Mel Tisdale I put it in park and pay attention to the traffic flow and don't have a problem starting on time.
jeffrey
What happens if your car has a dead battery and you need to apply the parking brake to keep from rolling down a hill?
Joe Henderson
My 2012 Chevy Cruze has rear drum brakes. They are somewhat more economical than disks because with disk brakes, the pads are in continual contact with the surface of the disk, whereas with drums, the shoes don't come into contact until the brake pedal is pressed.
Gregg Eshelman
Hill holder systems used to be popular with manual transmissions until the rise of automatics in the 1950's. Push the clutch and brake then you can let off the brake. As you push on the gas and let off the clutch it releases the brake. Subaru used that with manual transmissions in the 70's 80's and 90's. Dunno if they still do.
John Banister
One nice thing about electric parking brakes is the lack of mechanical parking brake cables. My dad, who lives where there's road salt every winter, won't use the parking brake, because he's afraid that a road salt damaged cable will prevent it from being released.