Porsche Taycan All-Electric Sports Car Sets Hot Pace

By Lee Pang Seng

THE increase in demand for fully electric-powered cars is clearly a trend that couldn’t be ignored and Porsche has heeded the call with its first sporty EV (electric vehicle), the four-door Taycan. And in prestige ranking, it has clearly outranked Tesla in performance, stature and price.

In fact, Porsche first developed the electric prototypes in the Mission E and Cross Tourismo in 2015. Gaining from the big strides in battery development since then, Porsche could produce an electric powered sports car that fully lives up to expectations in performance, prestige and range.

If you go by the performance credentials of the engine-powered models within the marque, that is indeed a very tall order. But the Taycan has clearly match, if not better, the performance standards set by its engine-powered brethren.

Firstly, the name Taycan (pronounced Thai-Kahn) takes its inspiration from the rearing stallion that is carried in the Porsche crest since 1952. Naturally, the word serves the link as it translates to ‘lively young horse’ to befit the Taycan’s status as the first all-electric sports car from Porsche.

Secondly, it has to look every inch a part of the Porsche family and in that respect, designer Peter Varga has not failed in giving the Taycan a Porsche ‘face’. His belief that the iconic 911 should be the Porsche identity has seen to a similar body outline in the Taycan at a glance.

And of course, it looks just as quick too with an impressive aerodynamic co-efficient (Cd) of 0.22, the best of all current Porsche models. This is despite adopting a recessed headlamp styling within a boomerang outline in place of a flushed look. The Taycan Turbo S’s Cd is 0.25 as it has added body details for a more forceful impact befitting the status quo.

Thirdly, again to clearly identify the Taycan as a part of a German family with sports car roots is the name of the two model variants. It is not powered by turbocharged combustion engines but Porsche obviously does not see the need to detract from variant names that Porsche enthusiasts and supporters are already familiar with – Taycan Turbo and Turbo S.

And last and more importantly, as the model names suggest, the Taycan would easily take one’s breath away on the road in outright performance. The Taycan Turbo would easily burn the road accelerating from rest to 100km/h in 3.2 seconds, 160km/h in 6.9 seconds and 200km/h in 10.6 seconds. Its top speed is a respectable 260km/h.

Naturally, the Taycan Turbo S is even faster; scooting to 100km/h in 2.8 seconds, 160km/h in 6.3 seconds and 200km/h in 9.8 seconds. While its top speed is the same as the Taycan Turbo at 260km/h, Porsche says you could do more than 10 quick acceleration runs in either variant without using too much electrical power.

Porsche is obviously proud of its latest manifestation, being a part of the six billion euros it is investing in the development of electromobility till 2022. With the Taycan Cross Tourismo due in the not-too-distant future, Porsche’s expectations of half its model range being electrically powered by 2025 could easily be accepted.

As it were, this pride saw to the Taycan being given a global launch that was simultaneously carried out in three key places chosen to reflect the alternative and clean power energy that could be tapped. This was at a wind farm in Pingtan Island, about 150 kilometres from Fuzhou, Fujian Province in China, a solar station in Berlin, Germany, and the Niagara Falls in Toronto, Canada – wind, solar and hydropower respectively.

We were invited to take part in the Taycan launch in China and the electrifying event was heightened with the lit wind towers in the background. As China sees more than a million electric vehicles (EVs) being sold last year, the addition of an exciting premier class sporty model is clearly welcomed. The electrically powered Lotus Evija that was introduced a short while earlier in China was equally well embraced.

Taycan’s Electrical Prowess

Porsche, as expected, has to be different in its approach to developing a fully electric power sports car. It chose to come up with the first production car with an 800-volt lithium-ion battery system instead of the 400 voltage system currently applied in the other electric vehicles. This 800-volt technology is said to have helped the Porsche 919 Hybrid car win the Le Mans 24 Hours three years in a row.

The idea is to achieve consistent high performance while reducing charging significantly and lowering the weight and space required for the high voltage cables. Porsche says the overall capacity of the lithium-ion Performance Battery Plus system is up to 93kWh.

For the drivetrain, Porsche again came up with a novel approach; the Taycan has two ‘exceptionally efficient’ electric motors, one for the front axle and the other for the rear, to achieve the highest power density and efficiency as well as driving performance as an all-wheel drive. A two-speed transmission is used on the rear axle to meet the high demand for acceleration and top speed.

In power output, the Taycan Turbo delivers 460kW (625PS) and 500kW (680PS) with overboost, while maximum torque is 850Nm. Launch control is part and parcel, and that explains the exhilarating acceleration performance for a sports car that weighs 2305kg kerb. The Taycan Turbo S has a higher overboost output of 560kW (761PS) and a maximum torque of 1050Nm. Its faster acceleration is aided by the fact that it is 10kg lighter at 2295kg kerb.

Range anxiety is also no longer an issue as the Taycan Turbo could over up to 450 kilometres and Porsche says this is actually achieved in numerous road trials around the world (covering more than six million kilometres). The Taycan Turbo S’s range is up to 412 kilometres. This achievement is based on the new WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) standard currently followed.

To affirm its range capacity, a pre-production Taycan was put to a 24-hour test at the Nardo high-speed track in Italy involving six drivers and stops only for quick charges. Average speed was between 195 and 215km/h and the distance covered in that 24 hours was a respectable 3425 kilometres. This run was conducted in August.

And the Taycan could be quickly charged up as well with a high power charging station with up to 270kW (kilowatts) that Porsche has come up with. The lithium-ion battery could be charged from five to 80 per cent in 30 minutes. Porsche says these fast charges would not shorten the battery life as the intelligent charging system is designed to ease up as the battery reaches full capacity.

It could also be charged using the 400-volt charging system that is currently used globally although it would take a longer time to achieve full battery charge. Nevertheless, using this DC (direct current) charging system while travelling, one could achieve a 100km mileage with just over five minutes of charging using the older system.

The Taycan could also be conveniently home charged using up to 11kW of alternating current (AC) although a full charge would take up to 11 hours from a five-per cent battery capacity status. As such, it would be more practical to charge from a higher battery capacity level.

Another novel idea is to have two charging ports, one on each side of the car on the wheel arches. To open the respective port cover, just swipe your hand under the body strip next to it to activate the mechanism. The same method is used to close the cover.

Dynamically sound

Understandably, the Taycan has to handle like a Porsche and to do that it has the integrated Porsche 4D Chassis Control that analyses and synchronises all chassis systems in real time. This intelligent chassis system includes adaptive air suspension with three-chamber technology.

Completing the package are the electronic damper control PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) and electromechanical roll stabilisation system Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport (PDCC Sport) that includes the Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus). This is something you would also glean from the specification list of the engine-powered range.

The Taycan chassis basically comprises an aluminium double wishbone front axle and aluminium multi-link axle, and is independently sprung all round. It has 9.0J wheels with 245/45 R20 tyres in front and 11.0J wheels with 285.40 R20 tyres at the rear. By the way, the alloy wheels are specially designed in-house with a dedicated supplier to aid in the car’s aerodynamic efficiency. As a four-door sports car, it runs on a 2900mm wheelbase, just 50mm shorter than that of the Pananmera’s.

Porsche says the all-wheel drive control with two electric motors and the recuperation system are unique. With the high recuperation rate of up to 265kW, about 90 per cent of the braking operations in day-to-day driving are performed by the electric motors alone without the need to step on the brakes. We have already experienced this very convenient feature in the Nissan Leaf recently with its e-Pedal feature.

The low central position of the Performance Battery Plus system ensures a very low centre of gravity that aids the car’s dynamic performance significantly. The aluminium housing of the underfloor battery that uses 28 bolts to attach it to the car body is part of the Taycan’s safety structure. Materials used for the fully galvanised body are mainly aluminium and steel.

Its passive safety system is just as comprehensive as that of its engine-powered brethren with new modern assistance systems to boot. One of them is RECAS (Rear End Collision Alert System) that actively warns the traffic behind of a potential rear-end collision.

The interior sees the full width dash panel (wing-like fashion) that appears to be the current trend among some carmakers. An interesting item is the louvre-less vents on the dashboard that are electrically controlled and, for the first time, are integrated into the fully automatic air conditioning system.

The Porsche Communication Management (PCM) includes online navigation, Porsche Charging Planner, mobile phone preparation, audio interfaces and voice control. The latter responds to the command ‘Hey Porsche’.

Porsche says the materials for the upholstery is leather-free for the first time and the floor covering uses a recycled fibre known as ‘Econyl’, which is made from recycled fishing nets among other things. The option of classic leather is available as well as the sustainably-tanned ‘OLEA’ club leather, for which olive leaves are used in the tanning process.

The six billion euro investment also includes the building of a new production facility in Stuttgart involving 700 million euros; this facility is carbon neutral and energy efficient, and uses electrical energy from renewable sources. Production of the Taycan started in September and Taycan owners in Europe would get their cars by the end of 2019.

The Asian region, including Malaysia, would see the Taycan in 2020 as part of its gradual introduction to a host of countries where battery-powered cars would be readily accepted, especially China. It is expected to be priced below the Panamera.