Hello again, everyone. After a few things I had to take care of on the personal side, I am finally back on the blog.
For those who have been following, you would know that I recently embarked on a relatively long-distance trip in the Porsche Taycan 4S. Photos of the ‘main event’ during that trip were shared in a previous post I made. Now, I would like to get into the nitty-gritty of the ~600 km round-trip I completed within the same day (a good 14 hours or so).
Yeah. It was a long day, and a long trip. Almost every emotion was experienced that day: frustration, anxiety, jubilation, relief – you name it, I felt it. To make things more digestible, I’ll divide this story into the 3 segments of the journey; the drive there, the destination, and the drive back. We’ll begin in order, so here goes!
From Calgary, AB to Edmonton, AB
The date was Saturday September 26, 2020. The goal was to leave from my suburbs in Calgary no later than 7:00 am in the morning and reach my destination by around 10:30 am with approximately 75-85% of a charge to spare. This would in theory, allow for more than one hour of the car being plugged into a DC fast charging station, which in my mind would be sufficient to achieve these goals.
After doing some research on said charging stations using the Plugshare app, I set my waypoints which would have me charge up at about the half-way mark, before charging once more near my destination. So, away we go with a 100% charge, slightly ahead of schedule at the time…
The vast majority of the trek was made in Range mode, as I looked to try out min-maxing for the first time since owning the car and see how far I could really stretch each kWh. The first leg of the trip was delightfully non-eventful, as I managed to reach the half-way point without any fuss and in good time. Stop #1 was a Shell gas station in Red Deer, AB where I arrived with a 64% charge after covering about 138 km in just over 75 minutes. I had to download Shell’s proprietary EV charging app, called greenlots, and load up a balance using my credit card which inevitably ate into a few minutes of time…
So, here’s also where my first epiphany occurred. If you do the math based on my distance travelled in relation to the percentage of battery energy discharged, I was on track for around 380 km of range on a single charge. Keep in mind I was travelling on a highway with a speed limit of 110 km/h pretty much the entire time.
Herein lies the difference between EVs and ICE vehicles. You can throw out the concept of “highway mpg” in the way that we normally understand it, when it pertains to EVs. Petrol engines typically benefit from much better fuel efficiency when travelling on highways – cruising gears, overdrive, cylinder deactivation and other technologies allow such cars to become sippers, versus the guzzlers they tend to be in crowded urban settings. My old 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S (991.1) completed such a 600 km trip with a quarter-tank of gas to spare, so this concept certainly isn’t old news, even to me.
Electric cars do not benefit from, nor share these principles. The faster you’re going, the more energy you are going to discharge – plain and simple. Since your average speed is going to be higher on a highway than it is in the city, expect your range to deplete faster in the former scenario. This becomes a hugely important factor in planning long distance trips which include lots of highway/freeway driving, as you can no longer rely on your range meter (at least not at the beginning of the journey) if you have been doing mostly city driving prior. It’s basically just the opposite of an ICE car.
So whenever you read about someone hypermiling their Porsche EV (like this gentleman), do note that he was not doing any significant amount of (‘higher speed’) highway driving. In fact, he probably wasn’t exceeding 60 mph much. Does this make hypermiling or getting 500 km+ range on the Taycan a largely unrealistic and purely academic exercise? Perhaps not, because those numbers are achievable if the car is used by an inner-city dweller primarily as a grocery getter and kid-chauffer. But if you want to drive a Porsche the way it should be driven, ever at all, you need to let go of the idea of getting 450 km or even 400 km of range per charge.
That’s something that I’ve always been ok with, so while this was somewhat an epiphany for me, it does not change how much I enjoy the car given the intended use I have for it.
Disclaimer: While I did indeed stay in Range mode the entire time I was on the highway, I had bypassed the Range mode’s default speed limit of 110 km/h on highway roads (I set it to the max of 140 km/h). Without giving away too many details, I was definitely exceeding the default limit during the drive. This certainly factored into the range figures I was seeing, and I’m sure that Porsche had set a limit of 110 km/h to optimize range on the highway, so I’m not complaining about or surprised by the results. Had I been in compliance with the default/recommended settings, I’m sure my range would have improved significantly. I should also add that the headwinds were particularly strong that day, depleting the charge even faster.
So after adding 26% of a full charge in about 26 mins (and costing $8.49 CAD), I embarked on the second leg of the trip which would see me link up with the closest DC fast charger to my final destination. This happened to be at a Volkswagen dealership in the south of Edmonton. So, after another 140 km of driving, I arrived at the dealership with a 50% charge at around 10:20 am. I was already behind schedule (*cough* Igotpulledoverforspeeding *cough*), and knew that my original goal of arriving by 10:30 am with at least 75% of a charge, was quickly fading into the horizon. Even then I wasn’t that far off my goal, and connecting to another DC fast charger like the one in Red Deer would certainly keep the end result relatively respectable. However, this was not the case at all, leading me to…
Not all ‘Fast’ chargers are equal. Maybe in name, but not in performance. The charger I was hooked up to here, was by all accounts the same type of device used in the first leg of the trip – it connected to the DC port, and it even had ‘Fast’ scribed in plain sight on the display case. So after downloading another app (this time for the chargepoint device I was hooked up to) and loading it up with a balance, I plugged it in.
It was basically charging at a rate of 35% of what the Shell fast charger was performing. In fairness, the Plugshare app I used to find the charging stations does detail the performance metrics of every charging station that it has mapped. I had obviously glossed over the specifics at the time I was plotting my course, but for this station to be considered in any form of the word ‘Fast’, is perhaps misleading. In any case, I resigned myself to just getting to my destination before noon at this point.
So after more than an hour plugged in, I added another 25% of a charge to get up to 75% of full. At least this machine charged less in accordance to its rate of charge, costing $8.00 for the full 60 mins. It was already 11:30 am by the time I hopped back into the car, and it was going to cost me a few percent of range just to get to my destination. So much for getting there at 10:30 am with a 75%-85% charge.
But I was determined to get there before noon, so that’s what I ended up doing. And on that note, stay tuned for Part 2 of this trip!