• The Super Electric Rally organized by the FQESR and with the participation of Porsche and other carmakers recently took us across four provinces in an all-electric 2022 Taycan GTS.
• The event was designed to demonstrate that “long distance travel in an electric vehicle is easy, accessible and most importantly, very enjoyable”. Did it?
Not so long ago, traveling long distances in an electric vehicle was a challenge few were prepared to attempt. But technological advances in battery development and the expansion of charging infrastructure across Canada should help and have helped make travel easier. Or at least made the adventure less perilous.
This is what we set out to verify – one way or another - as we took part in the first Super Electric Rally, which took place from September 18 to 24.
Organized by the Fondation québécoise d'éducation en sécurité routière (FQESR), and financed in part by Natural Resources Canada, the event was designed to demonstrate that “long distance travel in an electric vehicle is easy, accessible and most importantly, very enjoyable,” according to Stéphane Pascalon, the FQESR's project manager for the electrification of transportation.
In five days, twenty-four participants drove a motely crew of electric vehicles, ranging from the Chevrolet Bolt to the Ford Lightning 150 to the Porsche Taycan, traveled more than 3,000 km and crisscrossed the roads of five provinces. We would hit four of them.
The need for speed versus competitiveness
Auto123 was invited to join the ranks of this event and live the experience behind the wheel of the 2022 Porsche Taycan GTS. I would have thoroughly enjoyed taking advantage of the sporty performance this EV has to offer, but my competitive side won out, since we would be measuring – and comparing - our energy stinginess every step of the way.
So Instead of exploiting the 509 hp at my disposal, as I should when I have access to a car stamped with the Porsche badge, I was going to adapt my driving and practice how to optimize my energy consumption.
Yes, I had adopted an energy-efficiency-first mindset and nothing was going to get me out of it.
I took part in the adventure alongside a Porsche Canada representative who, as it happens, drives a Taycan every day. He took his role in planning the route and mandatory fuel stops very seriously, with the help of the navigator and the integrated PlugShare application, which he accessed via the optional third screen on the dashboard in front of him.
In addition to offering relevant information on the stations located within a perimeter defined by our remaining range (availability, charging power), these tools work together to preheat the battery so that it reaches an ideal temperature (between 30 and 35 degrees Celsius) when we arrive at our destination and thus maximize the charge.
We set out on a chilly Halifax morning. As soon as I got in the car, the engine started to run... silently! To save energy, we had turned off the optional E-sound, a futuristic sound generated from frequencies taken from the electric motor duo that adds to the driving pleasure.
There were 348 km in the bank in Normal mode driving, but we instantly gained about 30 km by selecting the Range mode. We were confident that we could reach Charlottetown without having to stop at charging terminals before boarding the Confederation Bridge.
Natural Resources Canada (NRC) puts the Taycan GTS's official range at 396 km, by the way.
We realized fairly soon that charging an EV in the Maritimes is a different kettle of fish than doing so to Quebec and Ontario. Let's just say that in the Atlantic Provinces, Tesla owners have a clear advantage thanks to their vast network of Superchargers found across the country.
For the others, it's impossible in this neck of the woods to find a charging station stronger than 50 kW. Which meant I couldn’t zip in, have my car recharged at lightning speed, and zip out. With the right station, I could have - with a maximum capacity of 270 kW, the Taycan can go from a 5 to 80 percent charge in less than 23 minutes when drawing its juice from a 350-kW station.
Also, note that the car has two charging ports for added flexibility when charging at home, though only the one on the passenger side combines AC (level 2) and DC (level 3) outlets.
Fast charging stations you say?
As it was, that 50-kWh limit meant we had to wait patiently when recharging. And this being a rally with a beginning and an end, we rarely had time to charge the battery fully, instead limiting ourselves to the range needed to reach our next stop in good time. In these idle times we’d grab a snack and follow the progress of the charginglive on a smartphone, via the Porsche application. After an hour and a half of stop time and a gain of 338 km on a 50-kW terminal, we were ready to hit the road.
As the only crew to complete the first stage on time, with a consumption of 22.0 kWh/km, below the figures published by NRC (25.42 kWh/100 km), we ended the day in first place.
We’d spent more than 8.5 hours on the road and left 608 km of that road behind us. And despite the distance covered, there wasn’t much fatigue. Of course, the fact that we were driving a Taycan was a big part of it, thanks to its welcoming seats and a cabin where leather and carbon rub shoulders with Race-Tex, an ersatz suede with a very exquisite touch developed by Porsche and used in motorsports.
Another part of that, I realized, was the benefit of not experiencing the vibrations and noise generated by a combustion engine. The quiet ride of an EV, accentuated by the double-pane windows of this particular EV, can be a real tonic on long journeys.
On the second day, we set off just as the sun was rising above the horizon, each of us having a flight to catch in the late afternoon. We had 112 km of range to get us to a first terminal, those located nearby being already occupied by other participants who had left even earlier than us. The early bird gets the charging station, as they say…
Our goal as the sun rose was the city of Bathurst, 80 km away. The on-board computer told us we’d arrive there with a 3-percent charge. To conserve energy, we even plugged our smartphones into a portable charger instead of the car. At some point, it was the cruise control's turn to go into economy mode, adjusting the cruising speed downward as we drove through an area where the temperature dropped a few degrees.
We finally reached the NB Power 50kW charging station with a mere 11 km of displayed charge left. Did someone say Range Anxiety? After a “quick” charge, we headed down the 180, a secondary road that stretches over 140 km through a forested area. It's not a very busy stretch of road, and it's the perfect place to test the Taycan's mettle. But, wanting to avoid 1) blowing up my daily fuel consumption, 2) incurring the wrath of my co-driver and 3) mowing down a moose, I had to curb my enthusiasm and simply enjoy its impeccable handling through the curves, honouring its Grand Touring Sport designation.
The rest of the day sped by as we raced against the clock to arrive in time for our flights. The cruise control was always on, and it worked perfectly with the traffic that grew heavier as we approached the airport. The second stage ended without us crossing the finish line. Two other journalists took over to finish this rally in our Taycan.
Planning and patience: don’t leave home without ‘em in an EV
Travelling long distances in an electric vehicle requires a minimum of planning and a lot of patience. How easy is that? It depends on where you are. Can it be comfortable and enjoyable? In this car, absolutely!
While not perfect, the Porsche Taycan is probably the closest thing we currently have to perfection in an electric vehicle. Introduced in 2020, it marked the German automaker's entry into the electrification era. Respecting the brand’s DNA, this sedan, in which comfort is teamed with performance and sportiness, marries German engineering finesse with driving pleasure.
Every dream has its price, of course, and this one costs $187,080, including shipping and preparation.
Launched in the midst of a pandemic, the Taycan was a success from the start, with all of the first units hitting Canada finding buyers before they even hit dealerships. Porsche racked up 844 units sold in 2020 and 732 the following year.
And here’s an astonishing fact: Globally, Porsche sold more Taycans than 911s in 2021. It’s a sign that performance and luxury buyers are ready to make the electric shift.