By Charlie Fraser
"In the beginning I looked around and, not finding the automobile of my dreams, decided to build it myself." ~ Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche
And the company that bears his name have lived up to this with their first all-electric sports car, the Porsche Taycan. We will delve down into the numbers in a few moments but some of the other things Porsche announced at the launch of Taycan blew us away.
Porsche have a rich history of building amazing cars and changing the game on and off the race circuit. A lot of people will think that the Taycan was merely built to stop it losing customers to Tesla, but this car has been in the works for a very long time. It started with the 918 (in 2013) and 919 (first raced in 2014), a £1,000,000 hypercar and a race car built to take on the unique challenges of the 24 hour of Le Mans. Both of these cars utilised electricity to aid and improve performance and to make the car even faster. It’s a simple fact: these cars would have been slower without the use of the electric motors. This was a watershed moment as it changed the game for Porsche, and they moved on to “Mission: Future Sports Car”
On the 4th of September 2019 we witnessed the birth of the production version of the Taycan, a 4 door 750bhp “milk float”. And a milk float it ain’t, Porsche have gone to the ends of the earth, literally, to test this car, they have set some new records in the process.
In November 2018 (behind closed doors) they took the production prototype to the Nardò Ring in Italy and in 24 hours clocked over 2100 miles. They then decided to take it to the iconic Nurburgring, Nordschleife in Germany and set a lap record there, the fastest true production electric car ever round the “Green Hell”. 7 mins and 42 seconds, to travel 12.9 miles and 154 corners.
Now, Porsche is the Marmite of the petrolhead world. Porsche build cars for Porsche, they build cars for their fans, and Porsche call this pursuit their ‘Soul’. I would call it an unrelenting pursuit for perfection in what they set out to achieve.
They are now starting to build their cars with the planet in mind. Not only do they encourage drivers to only charge the car on renewable sources but also the factory in which the car is built is completely carbon neutral. So you know when people complain about how much carbon it takes to build an electric car? Just show them a picture of Taycan. And that renewable energy for charging? That’s right, at the 350 kwh next generation DC charging that the Taycan will be using? Powered by Octopus Energy in the UK!
Ferdinand Porsche’s first car he ever designed, built in 1898, was electric. Now the company has come full circle having learnt so much from its storied heritage - not least the record of 19 outright victories at Le Mans - to good use.
Does it have the longest range of any new electric vehicle? No it doesn’t; real world is expected to be about 230-250 miles. Is it the fastest EV to 60mph? At 2.8 seconds, no, maybe not the fastest (but that’s still undeniably, eye poppingly quick) but there might be some debate (a little known quirk of a lot of “0-60” times, especially when measured in the USA, is the “One Foot Roll Out” - basically a slight rolling start which may give us slightly false readouts, and means not all timings are equal). So it doesn't top the class for some of the key EV metrics. Doesn't matter, That's not what it's about.
What Porsche have done is transfer their approach to building a sports car to the process of building an electric car. Three things stick out to me in terms of their thought process about how they have created a race car for the road:
Cooling: Porsche have looked at cooling from a very similar position to their older internal combustion cars. 911s used to be air cooled, but because they were at the back of the car, they could funnel all the cold air to the engine. Porsche have come up with a similarly neat trick to solve the battery heat problem that means a Formula E car uses more CO2 than an F1 car because of all of the dry ice needed to cool the car before the race (you heard that here first). Porsche have doubled the voltage of the battery to 800 volts compared to a standard EV battery. Why? It decreases the amps required to deliver the same amount of power, reducing the heat generated in the small contactors, so that the higher power can be delivered for longer. With less amps being conducted through the small contactors (the connection between the battery and the motor) it reduces heat and allows the cars to be put through the harsh treatment of hot laps and super fast charging over and over again. Tesla use space grade materials instead of changing the voltage, this shows the difference in thought process between the two companies. Mind Officially Blown!
Aerodynamics: There is a term in aerodynamics called “stalling” it is used in Formula One and Le Mans Prototype 1 (top class in endurance racing) but the place that most people may know it from is Golf. Do you know why a golf ball has dimples all over it? When it spins it creates a pocket of air which cuts through the air easier than just the ball itself. The select flaps and tunnels at the front of the Taycan will buffer and channel the air up and over the bodywork, creating a cushion of air that stops faster air from attaching itself onto the car and slowing it down. Like a golf ball. Sort of. As a result Taycan’s drag coefficient is 0.22, which is less than Tesla Model 3, the new Porsche 911 (992) has a coefficient of 0.29. A new Nissan Leaf has a drag coefficient of 0.32.
Driving position: Have you ever sat in the back of a Tesla Model S? Notice how it feels like your knees are in the wrong place? That’s because the battery along the floor means that your tailbone is closer in terms of height to your heels. Porsche have seperated the batteries out and both the driver and the rear passengers sit as low in the car as possible, you tailbone as close to the tarmac as possible. Sitting deep in the car picks your vision up, and you start looking further down the road.
It is going to be hardcore on the regenerative braking, just like a race car. Harnessing as much power as possible with no regard for driver comfort, just driver confidence; as a racing driving behind the wheel of such a machine you aren’t “human” you’re the fleshy computer that is requesting the car to act. At peak Regenerative Braking a skilled driver will be harvesting 260kw, another class leading figure. This may seem to be a strange thing to focus on, but these kind of numbers allows you to brake harder and later, and not be punished for it. Something the 911 is renowned for. You can really be the last of the late brakers (if you’re racing on a track, obviously) in the knowledge Taycan is going to stay super stable.
This sets a new benchmark in terms of what is achievable by an electric car. It is not a competitor for a Tesla Model S, even though they will sit at very similar price points. Model S is an electric muscle car, maybe a little bereft of soul. Model S is the car you take to burn people off at lights and get from LA to the Bay Area on a charge. Taycan is the car you go to take the kids to school in the morning before a track day at Spa Francorchamps with an evening meal with your partner, somewhere near Geneva. Taycan isn’t an “electric car”, it is a Porsche. It’s a Porsche that happens to be electric.
Steve McQueen loved Porsche. Nothing nor nobody has ever been cooler than Steve McQueen. Fancy following in his footsteps? Register your interest in the Taycan with us here and we will keep you up to date with pricing (although we can’t guarantee this will put you up there with the Cooler King). We'll be seeing the Porsche at the Frankfurt Motorshow, get in touch if there's anything in particular you would like to see.