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The demise of the friction brake pad is highly exaggerated!

A question was put my way by a supplier to the friction industry:

“I am curious to hear your thoughts on when electrification of vehicles will have a drastic effect on the Friction market?”


Here’s my take:

Electric vehicle technology aims to bring the vehicle to a full stop using the power of electric motor regeneration. Should that become a reality, the need for brakes as in friction materials would be eliminated. Pretty dooming, isn’t it, for such a worldwide technology, manufacturing, market share, jobs, plant closure and the effect on local communities from China to Turkey to South and North America to Asia and Africa, Europe and Australia! The spiral effect would trickle down to the suppliers of goods and raw materials as well, again repeating the same socioeconomic disaster.

But wait.


Regulations worldwide require that every vehicle currently built to be equipped with a conventional brake system, brake friction material included. There are three supporting arguments for this:

  1. All sudden stops require conventional brakes.

  2. All final stops require conventional brakes.

  3. The weight of a battery-operated vehicle is about 1000 pounds greater than its conventional version hence the need for assurance that the vehicle would reliably stop whatever braking circumstances.

Regardless of the advancement of electric vehicles, there are currently one billion passenger cars on the road worldwide, add another two million for commercial vehicles. The total is estimated to reach two billion passenger cars by 2035. With time those vehicles will be replaced. However, it is unlikely that all these vehicles will be replaced, all around the globe, with electric vehicles fully capable of stopping without friction brakes regardless of braking conditions.


So, for the possible demise of friction brake pads in the future, I can’t help but remember a conversation between a reporter and Mark Twain. The reporter asked Mark Twain about a rumor concerning his death. He replied by saying that the rumor of my death is highly exaggerated!

Mohammad Vakili has been in Friction related technology since 1978. He is the Founder and one of the instructors in Brake Academy. www.brakeacademy.org

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