Saturday Sep 23, 2023

I beat the Porsche Taycan’s EPA range even in winter

I keep telling myself that I’m going to stop doing EV range tests. With electric machines now routinely capable of running upwards of 300 miles on a charge, verifying such figures is not only less interesting, it’s also far more time-consuming. However, after taking the lovely Porsche Taycan 4S Cross Turismo for a wintery expedition into the wilds of Vermont, I felt compelled to report the numbers.

Why? Because every EV I’ve tested in the cold to date — and I’ve been lucky to run quite a few — has struggled to come anywhere near its EPA-estimated range. This Porsche Taycan? It easily beat the EPA’s range estimates, despite rolling on snow tires on a day that started around 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Why does that matter? Well, batteries are a lot like you and me: They don’t like getting cold. (They don’t like being too hot, either, but that’s a topic for another day.) EVs yield maximum range when run in temperatures that, broadly, we as human beings would consider comfortable. When the thermometer reads too low, range and charging speed both start to decline.

Back in 2018, our Nissan Leaf long-termer struggled to deliver 50% of its range when temperatures dropped. Other EVs do better or worse depending on how they’re architected. Things like heat pumps and active thermal management help the situation, but I’ve never been in an EV that could come within shouting distance of its EPA range in the cold.

Until the Taycan, that is. My route took me from Albany, New York, up through Troy, New York, and over Bromley Mountain in Vermont, before continuing up to White River Junction. That’s roughly a 260-mile round trip. As configured, the 2021 Porsche Taycan 4S Cross Turismo I was driving for the trip had an EPA-rated range of just 215 miles.

Additionally, this particular car had been outfitted with a set of Pirelli P Zero Winter tires, measuring a beefy 245/45 R20 up front and even chunkier 285/40 R20 out back. In my experience, the softer rubber and blockier tread of snow tires can knock 5% to 10% off a car’s range. Between that and the cold, I was expecting to have to detour over to the Electrify America station in Lebanon, New Hampshire, not too far over the Connecticut River, but decidedly out of the way.

Imagine my surprise when I got to my destination and the car was still showing 45% remaining. This on a cold, snowy day with wet, slushy roads and a mountain to climb. Suddenly, I wasn’t so sure the 20-minute detour to the EA charger in New Hampshire was the right move.

So, I asked the car what to do. Plugging in my home address, the Porsche determined that we weren’t going to quite make it on the present charge. It suggested a 30-minute charging stop at an EVgo charger in Manchester, Vermont. That was just a few miles off my return route and, though the 50-kW charger from Green Mountain Power is a lot slower than the 250-kW Electrify America offers, it was still the quickest way home.


A proper joy for winter driving.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

So that’s how I went. The car intelligently routed me to the charger and told me how long to stay stationary. In 36 minutes, I pulled down 26.61 kilowatt-hours of juice and paid $13.11 for the privilege. That was plenty enough to cover the roughly 70 miles I had left. The car predicted I’d have 20 miles of range left when I got home. When I pulled into my destination, that figure had increased to 24.

At the end of my trip, I tallied up the numbers and was mighty impressed. I’d covered 261.5 miles at an average speed of 45 mph and an average consumption of 38 kWh per 100 miles. That compares very favorably to the EPA’s estimated 45 kWh per 100 miles. Do the math compared to the Taycan’s 93.4-kWh battery pack and you come out to 246 miles of maximum range — 30 more than the EPA estimates.

We’ve already seen that the Taycan can easily best EPA estimates in ideal conditions. But to do so in winter? On snow tires? That’s seriously impressive. And while I was running in Range mode, the Taycan’s most efficient setting, we had the heater and heated seats running the whole way.

And how was the Taycan to drive through the muck and road salt? Sublime, as usual.  I sadly had little opportunity to really open up the sedan dynamically, as I was hauling family as well as cargo, but as a pure tourer, it excelled. Ride quality and comfort are far better than you’d expect given those 20-inch wheels and the reconfigurable displays meant I could keep an eye on battery temperature as well as ambient. Grip from the P Zero Winter tires never left me wanting and, overall, the Taycan was a fantastic chariot to the land of White Christmas. Sadly, a $136,370 manufacturer-suggested retail price after $1,350 destination means this Taycan will be mine only in my dreams.

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