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  • 01.15.13

Amtrak Puts The Brakes On Inefficient Braking

Regenerative braking comes to Amtrak trains and hybrid vehicles.

Amtrak Puts The Brakes On Inefficient Braking
Illustration by David Cowles

Regenerative braking is a huge selling point of hybrid vehicles. It means, essentially, that energy lost during braking is used to recharge the battery. Sounds so efficient–but not next to Amtrak’s new, electric ACS64, built by Siemans AG. A six-year rollout of 70 new trains begins now, replacing old engines along the Northeast Corridor and showing what real regenerative braking can do. Get jealous, Prius owners.

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Amtrak ACS64

During braking, 100% of energy is saved. It’s fed back into the railway’s electrification
system, which is big enough to absorb all that juice.

Peak Horsepower: 10,000

Motor Runs On: More than 6.4 megawatts, equivalent to the power needed for five Super Walmarts

Cost: $6,657,143 (based on Amtrak’s paying $466 million for 70 locomotives)

Excuse for being late:“AMTRAAAAK!!!!!”

Prius

During braking, 30% of energy is saved. The small battery can only absorb that much during the car’s short bursts of braking.

Peak Horsepower: 80

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Motor Runs On: Max of 650 volts, about what a really strong electric eel can shock you with

Cost: $29,805 (for the Prius Five)

Excuse for being late: Stopped at Starbucks

About the author

Margaret Rhodes is a former associate editor for Fast Company magazine.

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