Fans of electric cars were mighty disappointed when the EPA gave the new Porsche Taycan a range rating of only 201 miles, particularly since the Tesla Model 3 Long Range is rated at 330 miles by the EPA and costs a fortune less. That discrepancy has resulted in a lot of negative publicity for the Taycan, which may be why Porsche decided to pony up a couple million dollars for a splashy commercial that ran during the Super Bowl last Sunday.
As delightful as that ad is, with its focus on historic Porsches, it is little more than fantasy. The folks at NextMove, a German electric car rental company that also runs a YouTube channel for automotive enthusiasts, wanted to explore the performance of the Taycan and the Model 3 in real-world driving situations, so they charged each car to its maximum capacity and then took them out on the Autobahn ring road around the city of Leipzig.
They ran both cars at an average speed of 131 km/h (81 mph) to get an idea of how they performed at highway speeds. They had intended to drive them at 150 km/h (92 mph), but traffic and road construction made that impossible. Most people incorrectly assume you can go as fast as you want on the Autobahn, but that is a myth. You can go as fast as traffic will allow and no more.
The Tesla Model 3 used in the demonstration run had a lowered suspension, which should improve its aerodynamic performance at highway speeds. If you watch the video of that experiment and are not a native German speaker, be sure to click on the CC button in the lower right corner to turn on subtitles.
In the end, the Porsche came very close to matching its EPA range prediction, coming up just 9 kilometers short despite traveling at elevated speed. The Model 3, however, came up well short of its EPA estimate — 332 km vs 533, almost 200 kilometers lower.
How to explain the discrepancy? Simple. Various yardsticks measure various parameters. The EPA rating is done using a mathematical formula. The WLTP standard used in Europe uses a different formula. And real-world driving doesn’t care what those formulas say. It is what it is. The conclusion? The Taycan does really well at reaching its target range in high-speed driving. The range of the Tesla suffers as speeds increase more than official EPA ratings appear to indicate at first glance.
The range hit at high speeds shouldn’t be news to anyone who owns an electric car. They tend to go a lot further on suburban roads than they do on the highway. Porsche engineers its cars for the tastes of German drivers who like to travel fast on the Autobahn. Tesla has different design criteria.
The takeaway is that the range you get with your electric car may vary considerably depending on how you drive it. Differences in range should not be the only criteria EV customers focus on. If a car fits your driving needs, buy it, drive it, and be happy.
The new MINI SE, one of the freshest electric cars, has a WLTP range of 140 miles but an EPA rating of only 110 miles. We’ll see how it does on highways versus suburban streets.
Hat tip to Electric Fun.
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