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Death of the traditional handbrake

Electronic parking brake

New research has revealed that just a third of new cars are now fitted with manual handbrakes as manufacturers ditch them in favour of electronic parking brakes.

According to research by online automotive marketplace CarGurus, only two mainstream manufacturers, Dacia and Suzuki, offer manually-operated handbrakes on their entire ranges.

Many premium car makers, including Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes and Porsche, have phased out the traditional handbrake completely, replacing it with an electronic version or an American-style foot-operated parking brake.

Traditional manual handbrake

“It’s official, the death of the handbrake is coming as manufacturers switch to electronic parking brakes in huge numbers,” said Chris Knapman, editor at CarGurus UK.

“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.

“Of course, the benefits can’t be ignored, but as the latest technology trickles through manufacturer line-ups, many new drivers might never experience one of the most familiar of automotive features.

“The temptation to attempt flamboyant handbrake turns is soon to be a thing of the past too!”

What does the handbrake do?

Both the traditional manually-operated parking brake and electronic parking brake serve the same purpose of keeping the vehicle stationary.

How the electronic parking brake works

An electronic parking brake is operated via a switch that replaces the traditional mechanical lever. This switch activates a pair of small motors which engage the rear brakes, making a whirring noise as they do so.

The benefits

Considered a luxury feature, the electronic parking brake requires less physical effort, holds the car more securely and doesn’t need adjusting like the traditional lever. Most electronic handbrakes disengage automatically when you pull away plus they often offer an automatic hill-hold assist function, which is an additional safety benefit. The switch helps de-clutter cabins by taking up less interior space than a chunky lever on the centre console.

Manually-operated parking brake

The lever-operated handbrake might seem much more basic in comparison to its electronic equivalent, but for some drivers it is precisely this simplicity that is at the core of its appeal. Others meanwhile simply enjoy the mechanical interaction it offers, and at the very least a manual handbrake should evoke memories of learning how to successfully perform a hill start.

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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