Published on August 8th, 2020 |
by Jacek Fior
August 8th, 2020 by Jacek Fior
Every year we see some adventurers embarking on e-races and trips all around the world. I have myself reported on a few by Tomek Gać in Europe, from Poland to Macedonia and Sicily, and by Arkady Fiedler across Africa. I still strongly believe in these efforts designed to popularize electric vehicles and I always see them as the best opportunity to test and verify our own assumptions about driving an EV.
Since 2020 is by no means a year like any other, we could not organize our usual trip with Tomek in May. Luckily, things have improved a little (or we have simply got used to them) and our friends from Wysokie Napięcie (probably the #1 analytical site for energy and technology news in Poland) have just set off to reach the westernmost point of continental Europe — Cabo da Roca. After reaching Nordkapp driving a Nissan Leaf in 2018, and then taking Alpine pass (at 2750 meters) driving an Audi e-tron in 2019, there is this new destination to reach in an EV — driving over 7000 km (4350 miles), across 5 countries and one united Europe, and using countless charging networks.
Here they were, then, on Tuesday morning — excited, cheerful, and determined to prove again that EVs are already suitable for long-distance trips. Or they would have been, if they could only open the charge port to charge the battery. … The Porsche Taycan has a lovely feature, most likely introduced by marketing specialists, which opens the charge port with a swipe gesture, and their Taycan simply refused to recognize the gesture and open the port.
Now comes the interesting part — anticipating such problems, the car is equipped with a small … crowbar, which you can use to force open the port. The downside of it is you can only use AC charging then, and lose the benefits of DC charging, which would make the trip quite a nuisance.
Porsche’s service team came to the rescue in no time and the issue was solved so that they could really set off and enjoy a smooth ride. In all fairness, we should recall here some adventure failures in previous EV road trips — such as blocked doors in the Jaguar I-PACE or autonomous-driving sensors malfunctioning in the Audi e-tron, to name only a couple of many. Extras like these are as vulnerable as in other models, while the electric motors happily maintain their high reliability and beat combustion engines.
The Wysokie Napięcie team are no softies, and despite these early hiccups, they were on the go fully charged. The Taycan soon made up for the morning breakdown and made them stop complaining about excessive technology when it first warned the driver about a deer on the road long before he noticed it in the dark, and also later on when it cooled down its battery to improve charging speed after they set the navigation for the nearest charging station. “Thank you, Porsche,” they noted. Much appreciated.
Having solved the charge port problem, they were of course curious to test the Taycan on DC fast chargers, as it promises to charge to 80% capacity in 15 minutes (CCS DC charging at 150 kW). We are pretty lucky in Poland, as the network of DC fast chargers has been growing steadily over the last couple of years, mostly thanks to GreenWay and Orlen, despite slow uptake of electric vehicles. With 390 DC chargers and 804 AC chargers, you can travel quite freely and expect very few queues.
The Wysokie Napięcie team tried a 50 kW DC charger from GreenWay first, and a 100 kW charger from Orlen soon after. The Taycan reached almost all 50 kW of charging power at GreenWay, but only 75 kW at the Orlen station. It was too early to make any judgements, and the team is about to use plenty of other chargers to see what the Taycan can take in. You can be sure that will be reported.
For now, the travelers can openly say which is their #1 charging station so far — or, more precisely, it is a charging hub built by a Polish company, Ekoen. It includes five DC charging stations ranging from 50 kW to 150 kW, a shop, a cafe, toilets, and a cosy waiting room for drivers that is available when other facilities are closed. It’s like a top petrol station and more, with plans to build another five of them in major Polish cities. A similar plan has been revealed by Ionity, which is expecting to build charging hubs near petrol stations and restaurants.
It’s a great idea, no two ways about it, and the only concern is … finances. Will they generate enough income to justify the form? I truly hope so. Remember, though, that most charging takes place at home and work, and that won’t change — so charging network operators need to be very ingenious to come up with income sources for the stations.
All in all, after a bumpy start, the Taycan is on its way to Cabo da Roca. On day two, the drivers arrived in Paris to check its infrastructure as well as public transport and carsharing opportunities.
The team is also testing charging roaming in practice along the way, a challenge EV drivers face every day, and a business opportunity many wish to jump on. The Taycan road testers downloaded 10 applications and currently hold a few RFID cards for charging along the way. Will that suffice? We will find out soon, as Spain and Portugal are yet to come.
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