In honor of the just-released Porsche Taycan, here’s a pop quiz: How long does it take for an electric sportscar to go from 0 to 90 miles per hour and back again?
If you remember a few years back, electric motors weren’t exactly known for speed. The first mass-market example was in Toyota Motor’s (NYSE:TM) Prius, and to this day, everyone loves poking fun at the Prius hybrid. You can still find plenty of Prius jokes online.
Well, we’ve come a long way. Wednesday afternoon, Porsche (OTCMKTS:POAHY) released the Taycan – which is fully electric, by the way – and is promoting its new model with a spectacular video of a test run aboard an aircraft carrier.
Below you see the Porsche Taycan gearing up (so to speak) on the USS Hornet’s flight deck. In the video, which you can watch here, the car goes from 0 to 90 mph and then back to 0 mph in just 10.7 seconds.
I haven’t had a car in a decade – having lived in big cities most of my life – and I’m normally a Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model S fan. But if I was in the market, I’d want this one!
Porsche seems to have overcome most of the worst stereotypes about electric vehicles (EVs):
The 0-90-0 test run proves it can get up and go – the Porsche Taycan has a top speed of roughly 155 mph, comparable to the Model S in “Ludicrous” mode.
Plus, Porsche says it can produce an impressive 40,000 Taycans in a year. That’s comparable to Porsche’s sedan, the Panamera… and it’s about double Tesla’s first-year production of the Model S! It’s also double what Porsche originally had planned for the Taycan. But EVs are clearly in high demand.
And, of course, the Taycan has Porsche’s classic styling:
The next hurdle to clear is range.
The company is advertising a roughly 270-mile range for the Porsche Taycan. That doesn’t quite measure up to, say, the Porsche 911 Carrera, which can get over 400 miles on a tank.
The internal-combustion engine may be 100-year-old technology, but so far EVs have struggled to compete on range. That’s largely due to severe limitations with the current batteries.
Right now, EVs rely on the same technology first developed for Sony camcorders in the 1980s: the lithium-ion battery.
It’s the same battery you’ll find in your smartphone and laptop, too. But to power something on the level of a Porsche Taycan, the lithium-ion battery becomes incredibly bulky.
That bulk just amplifies one of the other problems with lithium-ion: It has a liquid electrolyte inside that is flammable.
Remember the problems with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7? If you tried to bring the phone on an airplane, the flight attendants would confiscate it because the lithium-ion batteries had started catching fire. In early 2018, HP had to recall 50,000 laptops for a similar reason.
But electric cars are the future – and, all over the world, regulators are “laying down the law” to get people to make the switch: from California to Germany and even China (which struggles with pollution).
So, naturally, carmakers are revving up their search for an alternative battery.
Porsche and other German automakers like Audi (OTCMKTS:AUDVF) and Mercedes all want next-generation batteries in their fleets as soon as possible. The German government is providing a $1 billion grant for battery research. Volkswagen (OTCMKTS:VWAGY) and BMW (OTCMKTS:BMWYY) have applied for their slice of that funding.
In Japan, a “battery cartel” of sorts has sprung up. The Japanese government, too, is working with researchers – plus major names like Toyota and Panasonic (OTCMKTS:PCRFY) – to get this particular new technology to market. Toyota is pulling out all the stops to deploy it for mass production by summer 2020, when the Olympics come to Tokyo.
Why? Well, with this battery, you could get DOUBLE the range after just 15 minutes of charging.
Plus, you don’t need the liquid electrolyte, so these batteries aren’t flammable. In one memorable test, a startup called Ionic Materials shot its battery with a Remington .22. It took three bullets, did not catch fire, and kept working!
As an investor, this technology is ideal for a pure play on the battery revolution.
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