DragTimes recently raced a Porsche Taycan against a Lamborghini Huracán EVO, and Motor1 did a good job of covering it. The point of this article isn’t to rehash what DragTimes and Motor1 already did, but before I get to my main point we do need to do a quick summary for the TL;DR crowd.
Let’s start with the DragTimes video (featured image is a screenshot from this):
To make a long story short, the electric powered Taycan narrowly beat the V10 powered Huracán. Like many close ICE vs EV 1/4 mile drag races, the EV tends to pull ahead of the ICE hard in the beginning. After a few seconds, you see the ICE car start to gain ground, but not quickly enough to pass the EV before the race is over. You also see smooth power delivery from the EV, but small hesitations and setbacks when the ICE shifts, which cost it time in this kind of race.
What’s Cool About This Race
Before I go and get myself accused of being the wet blanket here, I do want to be clear that drag racing is fun and even informative here. How quickly a car can get itself going and bound over those 1320 feet does tell you a lot about the vehicle’s drivetrain, suspension, tires, etc. It also tells you about the skill of the driver, especially when there’s a manual transmission.
I can tell you the first few times I ran a 1/4 mile, it was kind of embarrassing. I didn’t know what I was doing at all, even with simple things like the lineup and lights. I got better, though, and had a lot of fun doing that.
As far as the clean energy revolution goes, this kind of race shows us and the world that moving to electric doesn’t mean everyone will be driving boring, tiny, slow, ugly, communist cars around. The fun of driving cars will continue, and even thrive going forward.
These are all good things, and are worth doing and worthy of reporting on.
The Importance of Perspective
That having been said, we do need to keep these kinds of races in perspective. I think many in the cleantech community don’t know enough to truly understand what these races are and, more importantly, are not. It’s totally OK to not be an old school car enthusiast, but if you’re going to become a car enthusiast as part of the rise of cleantech, it’s good to get some wider automotive understanding.
Even if you’re one of the bean counters who is here for the stonks, it’s good to know more about what kind of beans are being counted. Some beans are worth more than others, and not all beans can make the same kind of coffee. Perhaps more importantly, which coffee is best is subjective, so strictly counting the beans is a bad approach to understanding what this race even means.
It’s really easy to say:
- Taycan do quarter in 10.4
- Huracán do quarter in 10.6
- Taycan better.
- EV better.
- I like EV.
While 10.4 beans is better than 10.6 beans in this case, we need to figure out what kind of beans these are before we decide to grind them or refry them.
Let’s Compare Apples to Self-Sealing Stem Bolts
Yes, Rich can take his Sherp through drive thrus and run errands in it. It does the job. You get there, you get your stuff, and you go back. That doesn’t mean the Sherp is a good vehicle for that task. It’s slow, it clogs traffic, and there are no side windows. It’s also loud. The Model Y, and almost every other vehicle shown in the video is better for the task.
Now, let’s look at what the Sherp was built to do:
Doing even a small part of what the Sherp can do in the video would completely destroy any Tesla. It would completely destroy most pickup trucks and SUVs to try to drive over icy rivers.
Can we say that the Sherp is a better vehicle? Or is the Model Y a better vehicle? Obviously it’s not a fair comparison, because the use cases are so wildly different. One is better for drive-thrus and suburban driving, and the other is better at the most extreme off-roading possible.
OK, you’re right, let’s do a more fair comparison.
Now, let’s do a quick hypothetical drag race in our heads. The Sherp goes head to head against Marvin Heemeyer’s modified Komatsu D355A, aka the “Killdozer.”
Assuming the 1/4 mile is free of obstructions, my money is on the Sherp. But don’t forget to bring your Snickers, because this race is going to last at least a minute. Also, bring a book, because it’s not going to be very entertaining to watch two slow all-terrain vehicles struggle along on pavement. Also, the Komatsu is going to damage the tarmac at the race track, so be sure to be ready to compensate the owners.
Does this sound like a race anybody in their right mind would put together? Ever?
Back Down To Earth
Now that we’ve mentally journeyed into the completely absurd, let’s look at what the Porsche Taycan and Lamborghini Huracán were actually made for: twisty roads.
Yes, you can take them out for a drag race, and it would be fun, but a dedicated drag car can easily eat them both, possibly with enough time for the driver to get out, point, and laugh at you before you cross the finish line. Take one of those drag cars on a mountain road, and they’re not going to do very well because they’re built for straight line acceleration and not turns.
Taking these cars out for a drag race certainly isn’t as wacky as Sherp vs Killdozer, but taking handling cars out for a drag race tells you about as much about them as the 1/4 mile really tells you about the bulldozer and skid-steer ATV. You’re not actually testing the vehicle’s true utility to run any of these vehicles down the 1/4 mile.
A more appropriate test of the Huracán or Taycan would be to run them at the Nürburgring, a well-known track in Germany that’s full of tough turns. The Taycan Turbo has gone around the Nordschleife circuit in 7:42. Tesla reportedly took a modified Model S around the same track in 7:13, setting an electric record.
Electric cars are heavy, though. A variety of gas-powered cars have gone a lot faster, including a modified Huracán that beat the fastest Tesla by over 20 seconds. The fastest production car clocked in at 6:43, and that was a Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series.
The Point Of All This
The point of sharing all this isn’t to say that gas vehicles are still better than EVs, but to show that drag racing favors electric vehicles while twisty roads and tracks favor gas cars currently. Different tools are better at different jobs.
I’ve seen a number of EV websites and social media accounts gloat over these sorts of drag races, but to do so is to take it out of context. We need to take a more wholistic look at performance whenever these sorts of things come up, not only to be honest, but to keep the EV industry working hard to improve and compete.