Do Size and Weight Matter in an Electric Car?

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©. Porsche

The new all-electric Porsche Taycan weighs in at about three tons. That means a lot of upfront carbon emissions.

After I wrote somewhat negatively about the Hummer EV, wondering how much truck, how many batteries, how much acceleration people need on the road, I got attacked in comments for writing "a hate-filled report with a lot of misconceptions." People evidently take discussions about cars seriously.

But I am going to be a glutton for punishment and double down on the Porsche Taycan, an all-electric rocket. The Turbo S model can do 0 to 60 in 2.6 seconds thanks to its 750 horsepower and 1,389 pounds of batteries, which contribute to a curb weight of 5,121 pounds and a Gross Vehicle Weight of 6,327 pounds. Imagine, a sports car that's too heavy to drive on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Two taycans

© Porsche

This brings us back to our discussion of sufficiency. How much speed and acceleration does anyone need, and at what cost? I have no idea what the upfront carbon emissions from making this car are, but suspect it's north of 60 tonnes. And for all that money and power, this thing has abysmal range, rated by the company at 192 miles.

It also eats a huge amount of electricity. According to one Tesla fanboi site,

Porsche's new Taycan electric car is the least efficient electric car ever created. Its total efficiency was 69 MPGe, which is low for a modern electric car, as well as its nominal range of 201 miles from a single charge. This also means with an average power consumption of 49 kWh per 100 miles, the Taycan Turbo gobbles through nearly twice the power of the Tesla Model 3 Long Range which uses an average 26 kWh per 100 miles.
Taycan interior

© Porsche

Without even discussing the energy mix in the USA, where the power is getting cleaner every day, efficiency still matters. And for most electric car purchasers, range matters. Eva Fox of the fanboi site Tesmanian (and a Tesla owner) quotes the CEO of VW, who says they were concentrating on performance and that "range was not a top priority.”

In reality, the Porsche attitude is detrimental to the development of electric vehicles as a whole. Consumers have high expectations for a brand that has been producing stunning sports cars for many years. But, after this purchase, almost any person will be very disappointed and will think that the EVs is a big problem, because you have to charge it so often. This may become an obstacle for some people to switch to environmentally friendly transport.

Everybody is competing to make the biggest and the fastest electric cars and trucks, consuming more materials in their manufacturing, taking up more space. Porsche could probably build 3 electric cars the size and weight of its classic 356 out of the stuff in this one Taycan, and it would probably be a lot more fun to drive.

When I wrote about the Tesla model X being too heavy to cross the Brooklyn Bridge, I got lots of comments like "This is the most verbose piece of simplistic 'writing' I have read in a while. And why a site called 'treehugger' should be complaining about electric cars is beyond me." But weight actually matters a lot. Making steel, aluminum and batteries all cause environmental degradation and carbon emissions. Making electric cars heavier means they consume more electricity, which has an environmental cost however it is made. Heavier cars produce more particulate emissions, even when they are electric, from tire wear and non-regenerative braking. The amount of stuff we use to make things matters.

If we are going to cut our carbon emissions enough to live in a 1.5 degree world, then every tonne of embodied or upfront carbon emissions matter. According to the CEO,"Volkswagen accepts climate responsibility.” Perhaps then it shouldn't be making 3 ton rockets, electric or not.