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Published on August 9th, 2019 | by Dr. Maximilian Holland

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Fully Charged Tests Porsche Taycan’s Performance

August 9th, 2019 by  


Fully Charged’s Jonny Smith was given a unique opportunity to test the Porsche Taycan’s performance consistency, and was able to confirm its ability to handle repeated acceleration runs without running into thermal limits. The Taycan looks to be similar to the Tesla Model 3 Performance in this respect, but will come in at around twice the price of the Tesla. The Taycan is competing in a different segment, and will certainly appeal to Porsche enthusiasts and other well heeled consumers looking to make the switch to the technology of the future.

 

Fully Charged’s test drive was curated by Porsche and designed to highlight the Taycan’s relative strengths. Jonny Smith was clear enough: “My job here today is to prove Porsche’s repeatability of high performance.” In other words, to see whether the vehicle could accelerate repeatedly without hitting thermal limits.

Porsche has noted that whilst even the top-of-the-line Taycan (444 kW, 600 ps) will not match the outright acceleration of the Tesla Model S Performance for 0–62 mph times, instead, its engineering focus is on battery and motor cooling that will allow comparatively strong acceleration at speeds over 100 mph (161 km/h), and thus meet expected Autobahn performance, crucial for the home market.

They emphasize repeated acceleration runs, not that this has any practical use. It doesn’t. Instead, it correlates with sustained high-speed driving and Autobahn use patterns that are unnecessary outside of Germany but are symbolically crucial in the home market. This also allows Porsche to troll Tesla, since the Tesla vehicles are — perfectly sensibly — not primarily tuned for Autobahn performance, but instead offer other performance priorities that have broader global appeal. Trolling the clear market leader — Tesla — is a well established marketing practice when trying to establish a new product, and therefore Porsche actually gives kudos and acknowledgement to Tesla’s achievements in the EV space.

Porsche claims that the most powerful Taycan variant — featured in the video — will achieve 0–62 mph (0–100 km/h) acceleration in “under 3.5 seconds” and 0–124 mph (0–200 km/h) in “under 10 seconds.” What’s very encouraging is that this suggests that the Taycan will actually have better acceleration times to 124 mph (200 km/h) than its top-of-the-range, and much more expensive ($188,000), Panamera Sport Turismo Turbo S E-Hybrid sibling. This is a strong indication that Porsche is serious about its EV strategy, and not just playing politics, unlike some of the other German luxury brands.

The price for the high-end Taycan version featured in the video was unconfirmed, but is rumoured to be over $130,000 (before sales tax) in the US, around £120,000 in the UK (including taxes), and perhaps €130,000 in Germany (including taxes). Expensive, but much less than the top-end Panamera. The version tested will apparently be badged as the “turbo” variant. Yes, Porsche appears to be keeping its traditional ICE-era labels for the Taycan variants.

Screeenshot from Fully Charged’s video — Fully Charged/YouTube

The least expensive Taycan variant, that will likely appear later on, is rumoured to cost around $90,000 before options. That’s similar to the Tesla Model S Performance (see more below). It is also rumoured to have power significantly lower than the “turbo” variant featured in the video. The base Taycan may perhaps have 322 ps or 376 ps, rear drive only, and a smaller 80 kWh battery, compared to the 90 or 95 kWh pack, and AWD of the “turbo.”

By way of comparison, since Porsche obviously wants to “go there,” the Tesla Model S Performance costs $92,600 before taxes in the US  (€102,700 in Germany, including tax) and will do 0–100 km/h in 2.6 seconds. That’s of course a quantum leap faster than the Taycan. Tesla makes no claims for the 0–200 km/h time, but independent testing has recorded 0–201 km/h (0–125 mph) in 10.5 seconds. This suggests the Tesla would likely have better acceleration than the Taycan at all speeds up to ~110 mph (177 km/h), and less acceleration thereafter.

The internal space of the Taycan is actually a closer match to the Tesla Model 3 than the larger Model S. The Model 3 Performance costs €55,400 in Germany ($55,000 in the US) and completes 0–100 km/h in 3.4 seconds (similar to the Taycan Turbo). The higher 0–200 km/h acceleration in the Model 3 requires around 14 seconds, which is a good bit down on the Taycan’s 10 seconds.

It’s tempting to compare the Taycan with the Teslas in this way, and Porsche has certainly set up the Taycan, and this testing day, to emphasize its comparative strengths relative to Tesla’s vehicles. However, I’d argue that the Taycan will be a much lower volume vehicle, significantly more expensive, and is actually going to be competing with and pulling buyers from fossil-burning alternatives, rather than competing with Tesla per se.

For those who might wish to compare the Taycan’s performance specs with the Teslas’, a key question is, what acceleration range is more relevant to most prospective owners globally? Would most buyers around the world prefer better performance in the range of 0–60 mph, and 0–100 mph? Or would most people prefer relatively strong acceleration at speeds above 100 mph (161 km/h)?

Design Parameters Only Relevant for the German Market?

The answer to the above question should be clear for most people. With few exceptions, only in Germany are speeds above 140 km/h (87 mph) legally allowed on public roads. Although a few drivers in other places will sometimes drive somewhat over their national speed limits, most outside Germany will almost never realistically drive much above 100 mph (161 km/h). Having high acceleration at speeds above 100 mph is therefore not something that gives owners much practical benefit, anywhere outside of Germany.

Screenshot from Fully Charged’s video — Fully Charged/YouTube

The exception is for the small percentage of folks who might occasionally want to push their car around a track. Even here, though, most of the tracks that keen amateurs drive don’t see speeds much above 100 mph (161 km/h) sustained for more than a very few seconds. Rates of acceleration at speeds above 100 mph therefore don’t have much influence on lap times. It’s typically more relevant to have good rates of acceleration from slow corner speeds of 40 or 50 mph, back up towards 60, 80, or 100 mph (161 km/h).

The Laguna Seca circuit in California, with a length of 3.6 km, only has one straightaway on which a high-performance sports saloon will (briefly) exceed 180 km/h (112 mph). Even the legendarily extreme Nurburgring Nordschleife, with its exceptional 20 km length and 73 to 154 corners (depending on how you count them), only has 8 sections (mostly very short) where the very fastest performance saloons will touch speeds above 200 km/h (124 mph).

Thus, even for the small percentage of performance saloon owners who might want to track their personal vehicle occasionally, acceleration up to speeds of around 100 mph (161 km/h) is much more relevant for overall performance than acceleration at speeds beyond that. How does the Taycan maintain relatively strong acceleration at higher speeds? It uses 2 forward gears. All Teslas (apart from a few early Roadster prototypes) only use a single forward gear.

Jonny Smith did not report detailed results of the repeatability of acceleration, but did note that he completed 30 acceleration runs, and didn’t mention any noticeable throttling of performance. Porsche’s account of the test is slightly more reserved. They say that Jonny did 26 successive runs of 0–200 km/h (0–126 mph) acceleration. The average time for each run was “just under 10 seconds” and the variance between fastest and slowest runs was just 0.8 seconds. That’s impressive consistency over many repeated runs, as well as impressive acceleration through to higher speeds.

Screenshot from Fully Charged’s video — Fully Charged/YouTube

Whilst the Model 3 Performance, with its efficient cooling circuits, could likely demonstrate consistent acceleration several times without encountering thermal limitations, 26 successive times has not been documented, so far as I’m aware. The number of times anyone could conceivably want to do this in practice is of course much less. Porsche’s point was to try to troll Tesla, whilst actually its design decision was influenced by something germane. (See what I did there?)

The Autobahn Use Case

Ahh, the exoticism of the Autobahns.

The actual practical design brief of the Taycan is its sustained high-speed performance, absolutely essential to acceptance in the home market, especially at this price point. Porsche says that (likely largely thanks to the two forward gear setup) the top-end Taycan will be able to sustain cruising at its top speed of 162 mph (261 km/h) for as long as is practically required on the Autobahn.

In practice this likely means designed to run at top speeds for periods of up to around 10 minutes or so, since inevitable traffic means having to back off from high speeds at least this frequently. Even at night, it’s actually very rare to get runs of more than 2 or 3 minutes at these kinds of speeds (covering ~13 km) without needing to slow a bit to safely pass haulage trucks, similar commercial traffic, or other road users (most Autobahns are two lanes only). Nonetheless, the ability-in-principle to sustain prolonged high speeds is an understandable and indeed necessary design goal to give a comfortable feeling to German consumers used to occasional fast cruising in sport sedans and coupes. This is Porsche’s home market, after all.

Screenshot from Fully Charged’s video — Fully Charged/YouTube

Though not part of its practical design remit, even the Tesla Model 3 Performance has been shown to be capable of sustained high speeds on the Autobahn for minutes at a time without hitting thermal limits (see, for example, Bjorn’s tests and Nextmove’s tests). Certainly, it’s enough to keep all non-German buyers very happy, and likely many Germans also, if not perhaps an exact match for the Taycan’s sustained cruising speeds.

The Model S with the new “raven” motor design (since early 2019) has not yet had its high-speed characteristics documented on the Autobahn, so far as I know. The new motors should have increased the thermal efficiency of the current Model S. The previous versions of the Model S did sometimes suffer from thermal limits if pushed to max speeds (250+ km/h) for prolonged periods. Again, this wasn’t a problem in practice for 99% of prospective owners around the world, who would never drive at such speeds anyway. The Model S was, very sensibly, not designed to prioritize use on the German Autobahn.

Conclusion — I think we can happily hand this design parameter to Porsche. Being a German high-performance sports car brand comes with some unavoidable responsibilities. You must — at least symbolically — be able to offer unencumbered high-speed Autobahn cruising. Folks who regularly cruise late at night at extreme speeds on sparsely used sections of the German Autobahn will be comfortable in the knowledge that the Taycan turbo has been specifically designed to meet this use case, whether or not it actually gets called on to do so.

This was a case of Porsche trying to turn a necessary evil — a burden they must shoulder — into a virtue. Good on them for trying to turn the situation into a trolling opportunity. I’m not falling for it. The Taycan is a great car. So are the Teslas. They have different design briefs and primary use cases. All are handily displacing fossil cars from our roads.

Other Key Performance Parameters

We still have no clear idea of the real-world range of the Taycan. As recently as the end of May 2019, Porsche’s press releases have still used the outdated and over optimistic NEDC range rating (“around 500 km”). NEDC is typically 20% to 40% inflated over the more realistic EPA range rating. It’s therefore a bit concerning that Porsche is still quoting NEDC. Until we hear otherwise, I’d estimate the EPA range rating from the 90 kWh pack to be closer to 240–250 miles (roughly 386–400 km). This is considerably below the Tesla Model S’s EPA range of up to 370 miles, and the Model 3’s 325 miles, but still will be ample for many users in Europe and China.

How about that famous headline of the 350 kW charging rate? Unfortunately, it’s no longer on the table.

The Taycan will launch with 250 kW peak charging, with talk of 350 kW perhaps becoming available from 2021 onwards. What does the 250 kW peak mean in terms of charging times? Porsche had previously talked of 80% charging in 15 minutes. But more recently it has climbed down from this. The official line is now up to 100 km (NEDC range) in just over 4 minutes. Translated to more realistic EPA figures, this amounts to perhaps up to 75 to 80 km in just over 4 minutes. Or perhaps up to 100 km, 62 miles (EPA), in around 5 minutes.

The Tesla Model 3 can recover 121 km or 75 miles (EPA), or some 23% of its battery capacity, in 5 minutes. So Tesla still has the slight edge over the Taycan in practical charging speeds. The shape of the Taycan’s charging curve remains to be seen, especially how long it maintains peak charging power. It may come closer to the Tesla Model 3 when adding 60% or 70% capacity from a 10% starting point. We have to wait and see.

Ionity-Charging-Station-3Ionity charging stations, Ionity press image.

Either way, the great news is that the Taycan’s charging performance, especially on the Ionity network (and similar high-powered CCS networks) in Germany and other parts of Northern Europe, will be more than good enough to be considered convenient for the majority of prospective owners. Especially given that EVs can start every day from home with a “full tank” with no effort required.

Takeaway

Porsche recently reported that the Taycan’s reservation queue has exceeded 30,000, which strongly suggests the vehicle will be a success. With raw performance that exceeds the much more expensive top-end Panamera sibling, that success will be well deserved.

From this perspective, it’s worth reiterating that the Taycan will not in fact be “competing” with Tesla’s EVs, since it will effectively be much more expensive and have a different focus. The Teslas are more technological vehicles, closer to computers on wheels, whereas the Porsche will have a much more conventional luxury interior and maintain key aspects of the Porsche identity — meticulous engineering, engaging performance, high quality. The Taycan will appeal to different customers, and will mostly convert former ICE customers over to electric driving. Porsche will stay at the expensive and luxury end of the market, whereas Tesla is already focused on offering more affordable EVs, has overtaken Porsche in global annual sales volumes, and is still growing fast.

Screenshot from Fully Charged’s video — Fully Charged/YouTube

Porsche has confirmed that its best selling and “relatively affordable” Macan (around $50,000 and up) will come in a fully electric version from the early 2020s (said to be 2022). Again, this will likely have a starting price at least 50% higher than an equivalent Tesla Model Y, so will be competing in very different market segments. Once the Taycan has proven successful in the coming year or so, as it no doubt will, it will be easier for Porsche to make plans to move further model lines (and perhaps other all-new models) to fully electric.

The first Porsche, the 1898 P1, was a fully electric vehicle. It’s good to see Porsche returning to its roots. 
 
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About the Author

Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking about social and environmental justice, sustainability and the human condition. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona. Follow Max on twitter @Dr_Maximilian and at MaximilianHolland.com, or contact him via LinkedIn.



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