Electrippin’ With The Porsche Taycan
Perhaps it is the people I hang out with and talk to, but one of the biggest hang-ups to adopting electric vehicles seems to be range anxiety. There are of course, other concerns, and we will get to those in due course. Through casual conversations, even if an EV offers a driving range of 400 km, there is still hesitancy. The Porsche Taycan, for example, gives a usable range of upwards of 400 km, depending on the variant (up to 484 km if you opt for the additional Performance Battery Plus package, and depending on variant).
But is range anxiety a necessary worry? Because a regular sedan with a 45 litre tank would give you a similar driving range. And as some friends have confessed, they would continue driving with the low fuel warning light on. However, the worry seems greater with a battery powered vehicle. Perhaps this boils down to (1) familiarity with the type of vehicle, and (2) the greater access to energy replenishment. At this moment, there are far more refueling stations than EV charging stations. This situation could however, change in the future, as things always do. Of course, few remember a time where there were hardly any petrol stations around and you had to get fuel from a kedai runcit. This is why major trunk roads pass through many towns.
The case for EV is same but different. Rather than rely on enterprise to expand the charging network, Carmakers like Porsche are partnering energy companies such as Shell to provide its EV buyers with convenience and confidence. There are high-performance charging points at selected Shell stations scattered mainly along the North-South Expressway, allowing Taycan owners to top up charge to drive a greater distance.
But along with this convenience also comes certain concessions which one has to be prepared to make. For example, the ‘splash and dash’ takes a little longer. You might also need to wait if all charging points are occupied. You can, of course, reserve a charging spot an hour beforehand, but that takes some planning ahead on your part and is not something easily done while driving a solo trip.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you are purely a city dweller and not a very adventurous one, your driving distance is more or less predictable day in and day out. Thus, managing 400 km worth of battery life is not a big deal. Much like how one would visit a petrol station every week or two, that concept carries over to plugging in an EV. And it is something convenient to do if you live in a house, or your JMB is forward-thinking enough to work in charging bays at your condo.
What I could take away after spending a working day’s worth with the Porsche Taycan is that living with an EV (at this moment) is about planning and managing. And I don’t see it as any different from using public transportation (to give a crude comparison). With public transport, you plan in advance your journey e.g. time to a bus stop / train station, transit time, platform switches, etc. It may seem overwhelming at first, but once you fall into the rhythm of the schedule, it becomes 2nd nature. Much like how you got around Tokyo with ease during your 2-week stay there. And this concept isn’t too different from managing EV travel. Once you grow tired of the instant torque, and familiarity kicks in, the EV habits become 2nd nature.
I had previously sampled several variants of the Taycan at the Sepang track. The Taycan Turbo S for instance, provides 625 hp (761 hp in overboost) and 1,050 Nm of torque, and can sprint from standstill to 100 km/h in 2.8 seconds. But this sort of performance was safely enjoyed within the confines of a race circuit. It is a little different on public roads. With that in mind, I had decided to give the Taycan Turbo S a try on some twisty country roads. An EV the Taycan may be, but it is also supposed to be a Porsche after all.
This led to a rather enjoyable drive from Porsche Centre Ara Damansara to a popular cafe in a farm in Lenggeng, Negri Sembilan. It was a mix of urban congestion and serene countryside that put the Taycan through a combination of slow-moving traffic, quick highway sprints, and winding roads. And it is the way it carves through the winding roads that gives much joy. Perhaps the 2,300+ kg kerb weight had something to do with giving the feeling of stability (though a bit understeer-y), or it could be in spite of it. I don’t know and I also didn’t care at that moment. What mattered to me was the joy driving the Taycan evoked, because there seemed to be a sense of familiarity that Porsche dialed in to it to make it feel like a Porsche.
Even the user interface is largely familiar to a Porsche owner, especially the controls on the steering wheel. Only the oddly located drive selector (the Taycan only has 2 gears i.e. literally drive and drive relaxed) and several other touch panel controls, the rest are easily figured out. Personally, I am an avid fan of physical buttons so most of the touch-based controls beyond the steering wheel are less appreciated.
So after about 156 km of fun with the car (including runs in Sport Plus mode), I made it back with 240 km worth of juice in the battery. If I had another day with the Taycan, I could have had another cup of coffee (or 2) in Lenggeng, and still return with a comfortable level of stored energy. All without having to plug the car in. I could stretch my battery’s worth by getting the Taycan to prioritise range where the car sets a speed limit (100 km/h). But as an actual owner, I would most likely leave it in ‘Normal’ and actively manage acceleration input. An actual owner also may plug it in overnight upon returning home. But in the context of internal combustion engine cars, we don’t always hit the petrol station after every trip we make. It’s understandable however, because the convenience of having a fully charged battery gives you more options to veer off your regular path. One great feature of the Taycan is the availability of charging ports on both sides of the car.
If you know Porsches and you are thinking of adding one to your collection of cars, a Taycan offers something different but in a familiar manner. And if you are on a budget (I’m not sure how many Porsche buyers actually commit to a limit), I would skimp on some creature comforts and invest in the expanded battery pack.