Montreal Gazette


Electric vehicle capable of 550 kilometres on just a single charge,

- says David Booth.

The big headline, the news Porsche wants me to scream at the top of my lungs, is that the 2024 Porsche Taycan has more range. A lot more range. In fact, it is capable of a real-world 550 kilometres on one charge. And that's not some Environmen­tal Protection Agency Tesla-is-lying-to-us-and-we're-not-doinganyth­ing-about-it claim of 550 km. No siree Bob, we're talking some I-was-behind-the-wheel, speeding-along-at-130-km-anhour 550 klicks. Repeatable, real-world kilometres. It was some pretty stellar stuff.

Oh, California's Highway 805 is not nearly as hilly as Ontario's 407, where I normally do my range testing. And the temperatur­e was at a range-maximizing 21 C, which Geotab says is perfect for EV performanc­e. Oh, and there were a few miles spent trundling through San Diego's Coronado coastline, brake-regenerati­ng the battery. But, in general, I performed none of the expected range-sparing shenanigan­s long-distance Evers get up to. Hell, I didn't even engage cruise control, which would have gained me another 25 km.

So, colour me impressed, especially when you consider the WLTP, usually the most optimistic of rating systems, says there's 630 km of juice to be had; in their own we-only-exaggerate-by-20-per-cent-way, that just backs up that my 550 klicks really were real. The number also eclipses the very best EV range I have ever pulled off first-hand, in a Lucid Air, on the very same California roads — it managed a then-impressive 462 km. The next best vehicle after that was a BMW ix M60, boasting a now seemingly paltry 414 klicks.

So, the $64,000 question is — how does this Porsche get so much range? Partly with mechanical updates. The new Taycan's coefficien­t of drag is but 0.22, the tires and wheels alone good for as much as 40 more km on a “tank”-full, says Steffen Christian, director, complete vehicle, for the Taycan program. Porsche also found 15 more kilograms — 10 in the rear motor/axle alone — the Taycan could shed and, as always, some refinement of the electric motors and power inverters eked out a few more klicks.

All told, these upgrades were good for a cumulative 20 per cent more klicks before needing a DC fast-charge.

Another 14 per cent came from upgrading the Taycan's battery from 93.6 kilowatt-hours to 105 kwh (97 kwh usable). What makes that most impressive is the upgraded 2024 Taycan is but a mid-cycle refresh, meaning those extra 11.4 kwh thingies had to fit in the same box as the previous 93.6-kwh battery and, according to Sarah Razavi, the Taycan's energy and charging system manager, all the basic cell and module structures are the same.

That means the 14 per cent jump is the result of improved battery chemistry and a boost of the operating system's architectu­re, to 830 volts. Porsche is claiming a 34 per cent increase in range, which, as I said, is now good for some 550 km on highspeed California highway.

Tesla has been accused of deliberate­ly programmin­g its vehicles' range estimation displays to exaggerate how much farther its cars can travel on the battery's current state of charge (SOC). That just confirms Range Finder's experience, which showed that most Teslas hold onto that “optimistic” range prediction until the SOC is down to 25 per cent or so, and then the numbers start plummeting fast.

Not Porsche's. Like every Taycan I've tested, the range display is extremely accurate. When I started my test — with the battery at 100 per cent state of charge — the dash display promised 550 km. When I got down to 50 per cent SOC, the odometer said I had driven 275 klicks and the range estimator claimed I had another 275 left.

Better yet, when I got to the charger with the battery at six per cent SOC, the odo was reading 514 km. Buy a Porsche: it won't lie to you.

Did I mention the charging is very rapid? As if that isn't enough good news, the new Taycan also set a new record for charging, our Turbo peaking at a whopping 325 kw — some 55 kw more than the previous Taycan — the result of pushing the maximum charging current from an already-classleadi­ng 336 amperes to a (semi-) game-changing 400 amps.

Even more incredibly, the Taycan can maintain a minimum of 300-plus kw all the way past 60 per cent SOC. It drops off pretty steeply after that, but even its reduced rate — a pretty steady 210 kw from 60 to nearly 80 per cent of charge — is greater than the peaks of most of its competitor­s.

In more practical terms, on our Gen 4 Hyper-fast Electrify America 350-kw charger, a 50 per cent recharge — from 10 to 60 per cent SOC — took but 10 minutes. That would have added another 275 km in that time frame, another new record.

A more practical recharge from 10 to 80 per cent charge — an addition of 385 km of, I'll repeat again, real-world range — took but 17 minutes. That's actually one minute faster than Porsche's official specs.

Of course, that was in semi-perfect conditions: Our charger was, thanks to some fastidious Porsche personnel, shooing other Evers away, not being shared with another car, and the temperatur­e was a co-operative 25 C. Nonetheles­s, that kind of amp-dump is amazing.

As to how Porsche has exacted all this charging speed, well, that explanatio­n is, at least at first blush, counterint­uitive. Two of the long-held truisms of EV charging is that peak charging temperatur­e is the limitation holding back charging speed, as well as that it is of utmost importance to preconditi­on your battery before charging. Well, Porsche's research turns those truisms on their ear.

According to Razavi, Porsche's massive gains in charging speed didn't involve increasing the maximum temperatur­e the battery cells can stand, but rather lowering the temperatur­e at which DC fast-charging can start. And, just to test firmly held beliefs even further, she says the new Taycan employs less battery conditioni­ng than its predecesso­r, not more.

The logic behind this seeming about-face is thus: According to Razavi, 55 C is a hard ceiling for current battery chemistrie­s.

Not only is that ceiling for max temps fixed, but so, too, to a large degree, is the rate of temperatur­e increase inside those cells when DC fast-charging is applied to the battery. Basically, the cells see a 1 C increase about every 30 seconds when you're pumping in 300 kw or so.

So what to do? If a battery's maximum temperatur­e is, as I said, fixed, and the rate at which charging increases that temperatur­e pretty much a linear equation, what is the solution to feeding in more kw and staying below that 55 C maximum?

Everyone who figured out that Porsche's trick for boosting charging speed is to simply start DC fast-charging at lower temperatur­es, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back because, well, it was a surprise.

That is, of course, because we've long been told that batteries need preconditi­oning. Nonetheles­s, Porsche would seem to have discovered something new. So, while the previous generation Taycan's battery was preconditi­oned to 35 C — and thus had only 20 more degrees before the cells maxed out and had to cut back on the charging amps — the company's second-gen batteries can begin DC fast-charging as low as 15 C.

In fact, according to Razavi, charging is actually optimized by starting somewhere in the region of 21 to 23 C. That's 13 C more heat the batteries can absorb — 65 per cent more — before having to slow charging down because the battery is running too hot. Hence why my Taycan could hold 320 kw all the way from 10 to 60 per cent state of charge, while the previous generation could only manage 270 kw for about half that long.

And, in a direct comparison, at 15 C, the first-gen Taycan took 37 minutes to charge between 10 and 80 per cent; the new one does it less than half that time, despite having more kwh to replenish.

All Canada-bound Taycans will run on air suspension, and there's a big update to the infotainme­nt system, as well. Porsche also says the 2024 is “even more attractive” than the outgoing model.

One thing that is scary is the pricing. The cheapest Taycan to be had is $135,600 (for the entry-level 4S model) and you can price that pony all the way up to $236,100, if you opt for the range-topping Turbo S.

 ?? PHOTOS: PORSCHE ?? David Booth test drove the 2024 Porsche Taycan Turbo on California's Highway 805. The temperatur­e for the test drive was at a range-maximizing 21 C.
PHOTOS: PORSCHE David Booth test drove the 2024 Porsche Taycan Turbo on California's Highway 805. The temperatur­e for the test drive was at a range-maximizing 21 C.
 ?? ?? Like every Taycan he's tested, David Booth says the range display on the 2024 Turbo is extremely accurate.
Like every Taycan he's tested, David Booth says the range display on the 2024 Turbo is extremely accurate.

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