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Why the Taycan cannot outperform the Model S

Why the Taycan cannot outperform the Model S

When it was clear that the Tesla Model S was a success, many people started saying that it was just a matter of time until existing car manufacturers would compete and then obliterate Tesla. However, most car manufacturers tested the market by removing the gas engines in some of their gas models and replaced them with electric motors. This is the logical thing to do if you are not convinced that there is a market for great electric cars. You can test out the waters using minimal investments.

A few existing car manufacturers went all-in and designed EVs from the ground up. BMW was the first, Jaguar the second and now Porsche is the last one to create a fully electric car from the ground. Porsche unveiled the Taycan on Sept 4th 2019. We all know that Porsche is a maker of luxurious sports car so it is interesting to see how their Taycan compares to the Model S. Tesla is also a luxurious car maker and even though the Model S is not really a sports car, Tesla does not make slow cars (as Elon once said). I don't think we should compare a Model S to a Taycan in terms of track performance because the Model S is clearly not designed for the track (even though it will be interesting how the Model S fares at the Nurburgring circuit in the following weeks). I think we can at least compare the Taycan to the Model S in straight line acceleration and range.

Tesla Model S and Porsche Taycans from lowest to highest acceleration time

Acceleration

As you can see in the above screenshot, even the Porsche Taycan Turbo S, which is the more expensive Taycan, is slower to 60 mph than the Model S. Why is that? Why does a 185,000$ US car cannot beat the Model S which comes in at under 100,000$ US? It comes very close but for a Sports car made by Porsche, it cannot beat it! The Porsche's curb weight is 5,121 lbs compared to 4,941 lbs for the Model S. Can 200 lbs justify that slower 0-60 time? I think that it is an important factor. It surely cannot be because the Taycan has only been geared for the highway. This is a car that will shine on the track so it needs fast acceleration exiting corners to make good times so it was (in part) geared for acceleration. The Porsche's 800V battery should be able to send plenty of energy to the motors compared to Tesla's 400V battery system. My opinion is that if Porsche could have beaten Tesla in acceleration by sending more current to the inverter/motors, they would have done so. My guess is that they were not able to. Why is that?

Smart Fuse : Advantage Tesla

One reason might be the smart fuse that Tesla started using in 2015 in the Ludicrous version of the Performance Model S. That smart fuse monitors the current at the millisecond level making sure that plenty of current can be sent to the motors while still making sure it can protect the motors but cutting the current if an electricity spike wants to pass through. My guess is that this smart fuse can allow more current to pass to the inverter and the motors. I don't think the Taycan has a smart fuse.

Inconel : Advantage Tesla

A second reason might be the metal used to connect the battery pack to the inverters. Regular connectors are made out of steel but Tesla is now using Inconel instead of steel. Inconel is a space-grade superalloy that can sustain greater temperature and hence allow a greater flow of current to pass through it. Inconel is used in aerospace and since Elon Musk also owns Space X, that explains why Tesla has access and understands this technology. If the Porsche is not using Inconel, that might make it impossible for them to send enough current to the inverters and motors while not melting the battery connectors.

Range

Compared to acceleration, the gap in terms of range is absolutely huge. The Tesla Model S Performance's range is almost 100 miles more than the 2 Taycans. How is that possible? The Model S has a 100 kwh battery while the Taycan has a usable 93.4 kwh. That 7 kwh difference cannot account for such a big difference in range.

2 speed transmission : Tied

I mentioned above that the Taycan was geared for acceleration being a sports car. This is an incomplete description. The Taycan has a 2 speed transmission on the rear axle. The first gear aims at maximizing acceleration. The second gear maximizes higher speed. The Model S also has 2 different gearings, the front motor has 1 gear ratio for higher speed while the rear motor has 1 gear ration for acceleration. Both cars are even on this front so all else being equal, their range should be equal.

Aerodynamics : Advantage Porsche

The drag coefficient of the Model S is 0.24, while it is 0.22 for the Taycan. Here, the Taycan has the advantage. The Taycan should have a higher range because it is more aerodynamic than the Model S. Why does it not? I arrived at the estimated 250 miles of range figure for the Taycan by converting the WLTP test performed in Europe. This test includes roughly 50% city and 50% highay driving. The highway driving is done at up to 131 km/h or 80 mph, so the better drag coefficiency of the Taycan should have given it better range than the Tesla, all else being equal.

Motor efficiency : Advantage Tesla

The only reason I can think of for the dramatically lower range of the Taycan is that it's motors and or its inverters are not very efficient compared to Teslas. This seems to be a recurring theme as you can see in the following screenshot:

2019 Longest range EVs

in 2019, 7 out of the 8 longest range EVs are made by Tesla Motors. Hyundais have the highest non-Tesla range with 258 miles per charge. No other EV maker has a car that has a greater range than 258 miles. Tesla's highest range is 370 miles, for the Long range Model S.

Conclusion

The only conclusion I can reach is that Tesla has dramatically better battery technology than any of its 2019 and 2020 EV competitors. Not bad for a car company that started to exist in 2003. Disappointing, though, for incumbent car companies like Porsche who invested 6 billion dollars to create the Taycan.

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