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Published on October 28th, 2019 | by Dr. Maximilian Holland

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Porsche Boasting Error — Tesla Model 3 Crushes 27 Repeated Launches To 200 km/h

October 28th, 2019 by  


Despite Porsche’s recent ambitious claims to have engineered an electric vehicle with uniquely repeatable performance, Bjørn Nyland has just demonstrated that the already-on-sale Tesla Model 3 has long since been capable of repeatable performance.

Bjørn completed 27 launches to 200 km/h in the Tesla Model 3 Performance, without any recovery time between runs. The test was completed in under half an hour, less than half the time that the Porsche Taycan previously required to make its 26 launches. The Tesla’s performance was also consistent across each run, when accounting for variable conditions (real-world Autobahn test).

As is clear in the video, Bjørn did a fantastic job in providing detailed data alongside the continuously documented test, which took 28 minutes to complete.

Why This Test?

This repeated launch test of the Tesla comes against the backdrop of a similar test by Porsche in the summer, accompanied by Porsche’s suggestion that its upcoming Taycan is unique amongst EVs in its ability to offer consistent performance. Porsche’s press release at the time talked of technical innovations, “superior permanently-available power output,” and “special feature” motor design that “can be cooled considerably more efficiently.” The implication of course was intended to be “… more efficiently than the performance EV competition” (i.e., than Tesla). Porsche, perhaps wisely, didn’t state this comparison with Tesla explicitly, though the intended implication is undeniable.

More obviously, in the video of the Taycan’s test runs, the driver that Porsche arranged to conduct the test — Jonny Smith — did explicitly contrast the Taycan with Tesla’s EVs, suggesting that the California brand cannot offer the same level repeatable high performance as the Porsche.

The whole marketing approach by Porsche smacks of an uncritical and patronizing appeal to authority — something along the lines of “we’re the big boys in sports cars, let us show you how to do EVs right.” The reality is that — against the backdrop of the climate emergency — neither Porsche nor any other fossil-fueled vehicle maker are on the right tracks, or can appeal to any authority. They are woefully behind the curve, having successfully smothered earlier EV products in the 1990s. They certainly have no authority to cast shade on the one carmaker that is tackling the climate emergency head on, whilst they for decades have fought against any positive action, tooth and nail (including via dieselgate, in the case of Porsche).

To be clear — both Tesla’s and Porsche’s performance EVs offer far more performance capability than 99% of owners will ever be able to make use of, or ever get to test the limits of. The question is whether it was sensible for Porsche to claim a certain level of repeatable performance for the Taycan, and suggest that it is something unique to Porsche’s brand, and for its chosen test driver Jonny Smith to use the Taycan test to explicitly cast shade on Tesla’s offerings in this respect.

This test by Bjørn demonstrates that the Tesla Model 3 does indeed have at least as “repeatable” performance as the Taycan. And the Tesla Model 3 Performance will have already been on sale for 18 months by the time the first Taycan gets delivered to new owners.

Test Conditions & Results

There are a few things to note. Being an enthusiast test, rather than an OEM marketing effort, the Tesla launches were not conducted in the controlled conditions of a private runway, but instead on a quiet stretch of Autobahn late at night. The launch starts were therefore not from dead stops, but typically somewhere from between 7 km/h and 20 km/h (with a couple of exceptions due to prevailing traffic conditions). Consecutive launch times are also hard to compare precisely, due to varying start speeds, elevation changes, and changeable surface conditions.

Deminer Land Charging Station, the base for Bjørn’s launch testing. Image Courtesy: Bjørn Nyland

The test began with a battery state of charge of 93.7% rather than a more favorable 99–100%. The first 23 launches all completed very consistently, right around 16 seconds, with extremely low variance. The final 4 launches took around 18 seconds each, when controlling for recovery times, seemingly due to the battery state of charge approaching 50% by this point in the test, and perhaps somewhat due to some amount of overall heat buildup with no cool-down periods. Had the test begun with 100% battery state of charge, and with even short rest periods between launches, all 27 times would very likely have come in closely distributed around 16 seconds.

From the little we know about the Porsche test conditions, their test took something over 55 minutes (perhaps a couple of hours or more) to complete a lower number of consistent runs — 26 in total — judging by the times visible on the driver’s watch. This means the Porsche had on average at least two minutes or more between launches (perhaps much longer), and thus at least a minute of complete recovery time (stationary or at creep-along speeds). Due to the Autobahn environment, the Model 3 had no pause times to recover — just launching to 200 km/h, quickly slowing back down to almost stationary, and immediately launching again. Some of the Tesla’s consecutive launches were started within as little as 50 seconds of each other. There was one 2 minute cooling off period (still running at steady highway speeds) when traffic conditions required it, and a 3 minute turnaround (still steady driving) at the halfway point. Otherwise, it was rapid-fire launches with no cooling off periods.

Porsche Not “Unique” in Reliable Performance

These demanding test conditions resulted in much higher overall heating pressure on the Model 3 than the Taycan would have experienced on its private airstrip. For the Tesla’s performance variance between launches to be within 12% under these circumstances (and that variance only emerging in the final 4 launches as battery charge approached 50%) is a remarkable result. The Taycan’s test also demonstrated an impressive performance variance of 8%, and at the higher absolute performance levels (that come with a $185,000 starting price point) of around 10 seconds to reach 200 km/h, though with a lot more time to cool the system between each launch.

Tesla Model 3. Image Courtesy: Tesla

If the conditions were identical, there would likely be little to no difference at all between the brands in the reliability of their repeatable performance. Indeed, it’s even possible that the Taycan would struggle to match the Tesla Model 3’s consistency if it was subjected to a similar “zero downtime” launch regime.

It would be good to know more details about Porsche’s test conditions. I did tweet Jonny Smith at the time, to ask about the total duration of his Taycan test, but never got a reply. Did Porsche top up its battery after 20 or so launches? Was the recovery time evenly spaced between launches, or was more downtime given towards the end as heat buildup increased?

In short — who knows how Porsche conducted its test? As Bjørn points out, his test and data are completely transparent (literally), whereas Porsche’s test lacked much by way of any details.

Taycan Away

From all we’ve seen, Porsche’s strategy of trying to claim the performance and engineering “high ground” over Tesla’s EV offerings has proven decidedly misplaced. An existing 18 month old Tesla model has been shown to already have reliable performance in this test, and Tesla looks set to soon take the 4-door lap record around the Nordschleife racetrack, outperforming the Taycan’s much fanfared result there.

Tesla Model S at the NordSchleife. Image Courtesy: Tesla

Meanwhile, there’s no doubt that Taycan does certainly offer much better performance value compared to high-end gas-powered “alternatives,” including its own, more expensive, Panamera sibling.

So, we can figure out why Porsche chooses to compare its EV in marketing promotions against Tesla rather than compared to gas-powered rivals. Precisely because Porsche itself still derives the vast majority of its profits from gas-powered vehicles, and doesn’t want to make those look like the inferior and obsolete technology that they already are. Instead, it’s easier and safer to attempt to cast shade on the disruptive innovator, Tesla, even if it all turns out to be entirely baseless, as Bjørn has proven here. 
 
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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. Find Max's book on social theory, follow Max on twitter @Dr_Maximilian and at MaximilianHolland.com, or contact him via LinkedIn.



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