It is now taken for granted that the future of the car will be electric. And that may also work in an urban environment. But even in the Porsche Taycan, trying on your own over a longer distance becomes a scavenger hunt - annoying and remote from everyday life. The fast Swabian is pretty much the best that the German auto industry currently has to offer on Electric Avenue.
Range fear? If you ask the engineers at VW or Porsche, BMW or Mercedes about the usual skepticism towards the electric vehicles, they just shake their heads and spread optimism: Bigger batteries, faster charging stations, denser networks and more intelligent software make the battery-powered cars an alternative for everyday use, they repeat their mantra and refer to ranges that culminate in the new EQS with record values of over 700 kilometers. In theory, all of this may be true. But how does it look in practice? This should prove a self-experiment, which for once leads a little further than just from the apartment to the office or the airport, but right down to the Balkans.
Everyday life for business people
It is around 550 kilometers from Munich to Zagreb and, according to Google Maps, the journey time is around five hours. The car is a sensible alternative to train or plane, and not just in Corona times. Because for many business people these are everyday distances that they cover with their diesels in one go.
The car for this tour is a Porsche Taycan. At least 83.520 euros expensive, in our case 476 hp and 230 km / h, together with the technically closely related Audi e-tron GT and soon the Mercedes EQS, it is pretty much the most modern and expensive that the German automotive industry offers the Tesla model S has to oppose. No other e-car from Germany has more battery power, and none charges faster. In theory at least, an empty Taycan with a charging power of 270 kW and optimal conditions is from 22,5 to 5 percent in 80 minutes and full again in a good half an hour. Progressive traveling salesmen have not been able to get any closer to their kilometer-guzzling standards such as a Mercedes E-Class or a five-car BMW.
Charging stops are planned
As a basic model with just one motor and the Performance Plus battery with a net capacity of 83,7 kWh, our test car is the Taycan with the longest range. It is up to 484 kilometers in the WLTP cycle, but after a few brisk kilometers the day before and a cold night, the on-board computer gives me the prospect of an action radius of 98 kilometers at 338 percent before I leave for Croatia. That is why he plans two charging stops on the way to Zagreb in advance obedience. Google's five hours before the start turn into more than six hours to the finish line.
Unlike in the old car world, this business trip requires a certain amount of planning. Because when the Taycan rolls into Munich the day before, it is pretty empty from the drive from Stuttgart on a lonely motorway. And even if our host had a wallbox in the garage, the shortened night from the early appointment for the mandatory corona test before departure would not be enough to completely fill the large battery. So in the evening we start again to a reasonably well-located fast charging station - 15 kilometers there, 15 kilometers back and 90 minutes of charging. And since you have to pay a penalty on the fast charger after four hours at the latest, you can't even leave the car overnight, but definitely have to take it home with you. Where we would have filled up a gasoline engine in five minutes on the way in the old world, we now lose a large part of the evening.
Gliding along instead of lawn
But at least we are now ready to go and in the morning we head south-east with a fully charged battery, a negative test and a positive mood - on a route that suits the electric car. Because only on the short stretch in Germany are there a few free sections on which the Taycan drives at least a little faster. 150, 160, even 190 km / h is not a frenzy for frequent drivers, but relaxed gliding. And which Porsche driver is satisfied with 120 things? As soon as the national border is behind us, it goes on anyway at a leisurely pace and with active cruise control. In Austria, the right foot has finished work. You can hardly drive an electric car much more evenly and thus more efficiently. No wonder that consumption will soon settle near the standard value of 25,4 kWh.
Nevertheless, the battery is on its knees, and because the Hypercharger is far from being at every exit, let alone at every service area, the navigation system asks you to stop charging shortly after Salzburg. Because it is occupied, we continue to Eben im Pongau and there e-mobility teaches us two more lessons: First, that a free column is of no use if it cannot be activated. And just because the Porsche navigation system knows it doesn't mean that the “Porsche Charging” card also works there. So we load one app after the other onto the phone and contact energy providers until we finally find the right provider. Just to - second lesson! - to learn that not even in a dream 160 kW flow on a 160 kW column. Especially not if it is not clear which of the pillars in the parking lot should deliver the highest performance. Even at the beginning of the pit stop, the charging power is barely 100 kW. And the fuller the battery, the less electricity flows. At the beginning, every minute provided energy for 7,4 kilometers, after a quarter of an hour the display shows only 3,2 kilometers / minute - and the trend is rapidly falling. An experience that repeats itself in one way or another at every other stop. The lesson: If you are in a hurry, you prefer to charge more often and, unlike with a cell phone or laptop, never fully - even if you then have to go to the next column again soon. A flying visit to Croatia turns into a scavenger hunt and loading logistics becomes the main topic of the day. The beautiful alpine panorama? Early spring in Slovenia? The local rules for lockdown? Everything is displaced by the question of when and where we should charge for how long. And the peace of mind when traveling and relaxed driving lose their appeal so quickly if the head still does not come to rest.
At the stops, however, there is also an advantage of electromobility: Because electricity is less available than fuel and, unlike at the gas station, you don't go to the cash register, people are extremely generous and sometimes we refuel for free on this trip. "Your card is not working? Take mine, ”says the VW dealer in Villach as if he were just charging an iPhone. Just like the porter of the hotel in Zagreb later that evening. It is hard to imagine that this would also happen at the gas pump. The “fuel” of the Stromer is anything but cheap: At the fast charging station in Villach, the kilowatt hour costs 49 cents, so that we come to around 30 euros for the last 250 kilometers. Normal company car drivers buy a few sandwiches with gasoline even at the overpriced motorway service station.
And as if the loading didn't take long enough, it becomes even more uncomfortable in lockdown. Where otherwise we could at least have passed the time with food or shopping, they now sit in the car. And I can still be happy when the gas station attendant - which is anything but a matter of course these days - grants access to the toilets while the battery is filling up. And of course the fast charging stations are not located somewhere in the city where at least a stroll would be worthwhile. But in the best case scenario in rather sober commercial or industrial areas. As a woman traveling alone, you wouldn't want to stand here late at night.
Happy is different
And it gets late in the evening until the journey comes to an end. Because instead of following the Google calculation at 16 p.m. or after 17 p.m. according to the Porsche navigation system, we only arrive in Zagreb shortly before 20 p.m. That's almost nine hours for less than 600 kilometers and the joy is limited - because tomorrow it's back and the scavenger hunt starts all over again.
At the end of the tour, there is therefore an extremely ambiguous conclusion: Sure, the Taycan has made it to Zagreb and has thus proven that electric mobility is also possible on long journeys. And the more often you go on such tours, the better you know the car and infrastructure and the right strategy, the easier it will be for you to travel like this. But at the same time, the tour proves that something crucial is being lost with electromobility: some may call it grandeur freedom and others flexibility, but just get in and drive off, as we have learned over decades with the combustion engine, that's on the Electric Avenue over for now.