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Never EVer?

The Porsche Taycan, an EV to Give the Never EVer's Pause. Next year will mark a decade since Tesla launched the Model S, the first EV with broad market appeal. I would argue that history will come to define this moment as the beginning-of-the-end of the combustion engine. To some, especially those never EVers (I’m including myself), that may seem a bold statement. After all, not so long ago, headlines raced to report the numerous issues plaguing the launch of Tesla’s affordable Model Y, hedge-funds were actively betting against Musk’s improbable crusade, and a consumer revolt against efforts to develop a US market for small cars, popular in Europe, was credited to the glut in oil. Back then, many of us felt that the future for EV’s could still go either way. But bold it isn’t, and we’re only going one way - electric. Not because Tesla continues to confound its critics (despite ongoing issues), and not because the growing demand for EV’s appears wholly unaffected by the glut in oil, but because of cars like the Porsche Taycan. While I begrudgingly admire the Jaguar I-Pace, and the Audie e-tron, as practical competitors to the Tesla, I wouldn’t buy either of them. They look great, inside and out, they each have practical range, and they are blisteringly quick from 0-60, but they are not driver’s cars. Most Sunday’s will see me drive, or ride, up the first 26 miles, and over 100 corners, of the Angeles Crest Highway to Newcomb’s Ranch, 5,340 feet up in the mountains. This is not EV territory, and you’ll regularly find the Tesla’s that silently whistled past you at the bottom of the mountain struggling to maintain at the top. So, as I read the results of Car and Driver Magazine’s annual Lightning Lap, I was amazed to see that Porsche had sent a Taycan Turbo S, which not only survived but thrived. For the uninitiated, C&D’s Lightning Lap is a side by side test for the year’s leading hot cars. Conducted on Virginia International Raceway’s Grand Course: four demanding miles of varied elevation, encompassing 24 turns. Keeping in mind that the last time C&D ran a Tesla S in 2016, it overheated on lap one, at the first mile marker. It is all the more remarkable to read that the 5,200-pound (2.4-tonne) Taycan managed a better lap time than the Supra 3.0, the Jaguar F-Type R, the Mercedes-AMG CLA45, and even pipped the BMW M8 Competition. There are plenty of well-reviewed reasons behind this exceptional performance. Much like its conventional cousins the Taycan benefits from Porsche’s four-wheel steer, carbon-ceramic brakes, race-spec suspension, and immense power (over 600 bhp). Then there’s the 800-volt system and the two-speed gearbox, both firsts for EV’s, not to mention the price ($200,000+), expectations are high, but this is still a jaw-dropping achievement. In an attempt to pick holes, you could argue it’s not race worthy. By the time C&D completed the second lap, power was compromised by excessive battery heat. Nonetheless, the Taycan completed 6 laps, over two sessions, as with all the cars on test, refueling in the interim, and returning with 40% in the ‘tank’. Car and Driver report similar consumption from the Shelby GT500 (only 2-mpg on track!). Still, not much of a hole. Doubtless, governments will claim a share in the glory of the EV revolution, but, as Musk proved, this was always going to be a consumer-driven affair. EV’s have to be better, not just work. Porsche have not only eclipsed Tesla, but they might have gone and built a true driver’s car, with no engine. Perhaps marking the end-of-the-beginning for EV’s? 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo S Base Price: $186,350 Curb Weight: 5246 lb. (2358 kg.) Power Output: 616 bhp (boost to 750 bhp) 0-60: 2.4 sec Range: 192 miles

Embrace the Silence

Car enthusiasts are stumbling at the last hurdle to EV acceptance. It's time to get over it. To witness an old Ferrari V12 storm a hill at close range is an experience as sweet of sound as it is of sight. Just hearing one tick-over is childishly exciting, and while the sonorous rasp of a V6 is just a characteristic of its intrinsic imbalance, the resulting noise (perhaps best demonstrated by Alpha’s Busso engine) literally makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. So, when I read Daniel Berman’s post, ‘The Next BMW M Car Will Be Going All-Electric’ on DRIVETRIBE, I wasn't surprised to see so many of the comments lamenting the silence that will inevitably replace the joyous scream of a straight-six. From EV1 to Mach-E When GM’s EV1 and Toyota’s Prius first started wafting around our streets in the late ’90s, there was a lot to hate on. These slow, ugly, utilitarian devices were also impractical, thanks to their limited range and a lack of recharging stations. Enter Elon Musk, an environmentalist in a car enthusiasts’ body. Tesla’s are anything but slow, that avenue of hate was gone in 1.9 seconds, as is the ugly issue. The Tesla’s interior is up there with Porsche, and not at all utilitarian. Musk proved that appealing EV’s were commercially viable, forcing the industry giants to catch up, and thereby invalidating all the rational reasons to hate on them. All but two, that is. With range came weight. A Tesla S battery pack weighs over half a ton, although the speed at which battery technology is developing suggests this will not remain true for long. Supercapacitors are already having an impact on battery requirements, and feature in new Tesla’s, as well as the Toyota Yaris. While the evolution of cheap, lightweight ultracapacitors, which have the potential for immense energy storage densities, and can be recharged thousands of times with little or no degradation, are likely to transform EV’s in terms of cost, range, and handling. A Quiet Revolution As the dawn of electric cars turns into day, those of us who savor the visceral experience of driving are finding it hard to get over the one thing that won’t change, the noise they make, or lack of it. Straight six, V6, V8, V12, even the humble four, we all have our favorites. To enthusiasts the audible idiosyncrasies, which characterize each configuration and marque, are an inseparable aspect of their appeal. But to the majority of car owners, for whom driving is a means to an end, our complaining about the lack of engine sound as though it were a beloved sonata is anything but rational. They have a point. Enzo Ferrari, Sir William Lyons, Vincenzo Lancia, automobile pioneers behind some of the most celebrated cars, all shared a passion for pushing the boundaries of engineering and aesthetics. The resulting sounds made by their creations was merely a (pleasing) by-product, but not an end of itself. The silence of EV’s is precisely that, a by-product of advancement. An all-electric M has the potential to be faster, lighter, and more engaging than its predecessors. Precisely the things we petrolheads esteem most. When they announced the ban on smoking in pubs, I remember thinking how the atmosphere and experience would be ruined. Turns out it was just different and ultimately better. Those of us who love our noisy, smelly, combustion-powered cars will still have them to cherish, but if the next generation of performance EV’s live up to their billing, the time will have come to embrace the silence.

Coming Soon...

My mate Kit and I take two, new Moto Guzzi V85 TT’s on a 3,000 mile trip from Seattle, east to Glacier Park, and south following the Rockies through eight iconic national parks, and seven states, ending our journey in Los Angeles.

Welcome to Petroleum Spirit is dedicated to automotive adventures and experiences, large and small, that anyone can endeavor to do. The only requirements being a driver’s license and the will to get out there... My first wheeled adventure occurred one summer morning when my friend, eager to try it out his new bicycle in earnest, suggested we ride to the town of Henley-in-Arden. By the time we completed the 36-mile round trip, half the village was out looking for us. We were only nine years old at the time. That illicit journey ignited a passion for travel and adventure that has never waned, and to this day, I continue to spend all the time and cash I can spare in the pursuit of speed, solitude, adventure, and discovery.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Helen Keller

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