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A new era: the electric Porsche Taycan hits the road

From wound "Hairpins" in the electric motor to intelligent charging planners: In her October column for "Crazy about Porsche", automotive engineer Laura Kukuk dedicates herself to the Taycan - looking forward to her first road trip with the electric sports car.

Text: Laura Kukuk Photo: Porsche 08.10.2019 7 min

Double the voltage means double excitement? You could really say so, because the new Porsche Taycan is currently the only large series electric vehicle on the market with an architecture of 800 volts instead of the usual 400 volts. This turns out to be a particular advantage for the Taycan driver on the road: in just over five minutes, energy for up to 100 kilometers range can be recharged according to the WLTP standard using direct current from the High Power Charging network.

But let's dive into Porsche's electric past first, before we turn our attention to the exciting present. It all began in 1893 with the internship of Ferdinand Porsche, who later founded the company, at the company "Béla Egger & Co. Even as a child he was fascinated by electricity. It is therefore no wonder that the first vehicles he developed were driven by an electric motor. Only later did he design combustion engines - the basis for the boxer and the sports cars we love so much today. Even the world's first hybrid vehicle conquered the roads of the world not just a few years ago, but in this very early era of the automobile: in 1900 Ferdinand Porsche developed the "Semper Vivus", which had a technology that later became known as the "Lohner-Porsche": The combustion engine supplied the necessary power for the electric wheel hub motors.

And with a set of these, Ferdinand Porsche wins the Exelberg race in 1902 at the wheel of his newest development, the Lohner-Porsche "Mixte". Three years later the technology is even more advanced and a specially designed racing car with an output of 2 x 30 hp reaches speeds of around 130 kilometres per hour. Quite logical that Porsche has recently returned to the hybrid drive: in 2010 Zuffenhausen sent a 911 GT3 R Hybrid to the Nürburgring Nordschleife. At the time, a 4-litre six-cylinder engine with 480 hp and two electric motors with about 80 hp each worked together in the hybrid. Nine years later, at the start of the 2019/20 Formula E season, Porsche's first all-electric racing car will be on the grid.

Back into the presence and back on the street, the automotive industry is currently facing a lot of changes which are bringing along plenty of challenges and all of these better have happened yesterday than tomorrow. No news, I am well aware, and yet it takes manufacturers decades to develop and present a series production ready answer to all the questions society is facing. Porsche is finally joining the electrified world. Less than 48 months have passed between the presentation of the Mission E concept vehicle at the IAA motor show in 2015 and the start of production for the first Taycan customer vehicles. It looks greatly familiar because the styling has not changed much from the original concept and we feel rather comfortable with it.

September is the month of the Taycan and we are busy visiting technical workshops,the factory opening, the IAA presentation and finally get a test drive ourselves as part of the road trip from Oslo to Stuttgart. But before we want to share driving impressions and the pros and cons of traveling around with the Taycan, we would like to dig into the details first. We want to find out what is different, what differentiates the concept of Porsche from all the other manufacturers, what is new and what might be the solution to a general problem.

We start with something exciting for the „petrolhead“ amongst you, those who thrive for performance and power challenges, the launch control function might be of interest for you. Porsche is taking on Tesla once again, wanting to demonstrate that technology is more advanced and everything seems to be possible, also with an EV. What may we refer to, yes the launch control function – the car has been engineered to handle several hard launches without the risk of damaging componentry. We suspect that’s a dig at Tesla’s process of having to warm up the car first then warn the driver that launching it may affect future performance. Although, admittedly, we aren’t the greatest fans of launch control, we obviously had to give it a go during our passenger ride - wow! Quite honestly, we gasped for air for a minute and hoped for our blood to wonder back into the rest of our body. Everything was pressed against the seat, it is just incredibly quick and feels much quicker than an acceleration from 0-62 mph in 3.2 sec (2.8 sec), way quicker! The overboost function for launch control is resulting in 671bhp with 627lb ft and 751bhp with 774lb ft for the Turbo and Turbo S, respectively.

The Taycan is the first production vehicle, apart from the less known and highly limited Isdera Commendatore GT, to be equipped with a 800- high voltage powertrain instead of the usual 400 volts for electric cars. A special feature of the electric motors is the "hairpin" winding of the stator coils. This technology makes it possible to incorporate more copper in the stator, increasing power output and torque while maintaining the same component volume. This means that the Taycan’s battery charges incredibly fast. For instance, under ideal conditions the charging time from five to 80 percent is just 22 and a half minutes. That’s notably quicker than Tesla’s Supercharger, which needs about an hour to fully charge a nearly empty battery. In 20 minutes, the Supercharger will add up to 125 miles of range, which is less than half the Model S’ total capacity. This is a particular advantage for Taycan drivers on the road: in just over five minutes, the battery can be recharged using direct current (DC) from the high-power charging network for a range of up to 100 kilometres (according to WLTP).

Design-wise, the Taycan’s interior looks somewhat familiar. The rectangular dashboard is already a trademark feature for the German company, as you can find it in both the Panamera and the 911. But while the dash shares its layout with other Porsche models,the screen configuration is unique to this model. There’s a 10.9-inch infotainment screen in the center and a similar display on the passenger side. The latter is optional. When ordered, the two combine to form a large display that integrates perfectly into the dashboard fascia. Porsche says that both displays have been designed specifically for the Taycan in order to reduce the number of classic switches and buttons. And this is true, because the Taycan’s dashboard is almost completely devoid of buttons. The center console is also clean because a third screen incorporates controls for the climate system or opens the front and rear hoods.

Another little detail which isn’t that little and puts a smile on our faces: Porsche claims the Taycan has the lowest drag co-efficient of any of its cars, rated between 0.22 and 0.25Cd depending on the model.

When it comes to the transmission, the Taycan is the first Porsche to employ a twospeed unit. Installed on the rear axle with one of the electric motors, it features a first gear that prioritizes acceleration from a standing start. The second gear, which features a long gear ratio, ensures high efficiency and high power reserves while traveling at high speeds.

All of these facts are differentiating Porsche from all other EV’s on the current market and yet there is more and to us the highlight of the technical package Porsche is offering: The „charging planner“. Isn’t the first question which comes to your mind when planning to ride a long in an all electric vehicle where, when and how will I be able to best and quickly charge the car? Yes, today this is still one of the main questions one should ask themselves when travelling a little further than to the next supermarket.

A road trip can be a real challenge, we can tell you all about it and that is why we absolutely loved to hear all about the new „charging planner“ Porsche is launching together with the Taycan. Of course, we are still a little scecptrical and will put it to great test during our road trip in a few weeks time, but until then we want to share some of the details which have met our expectations and raised a light at the end of the rather dark tunnel - wanting us to hope that the infrastructure and charging of an EV will be less of an issue in the future. In short that planner shall reduce the effects of cold temperatures affecting the speed of charging, by pre-conditioning the batteries to an optimal temperature. But it promises to do so much more than that too and we can’t wait to test it all out and tell you more about it after our road trip!

We are about to hit the road with the Taycan and can’t wait to tell you all about our experiences.