When you buy a shiny new ride, you want to drive it, right? That’s what Don Louv did when he took delivery of his new $165,000 all-electric Porsche Taycan Turbo. Drive. Only Don took the long way home.
From Portland, Maine, he crossed into Canada and proceeded to drive the length of the country. He then dropped Stateside again and followed the west coast down to San Diego, then across the U.S. to Florida, and back up to Maine. In total, Louv and his Taycan covered 11,098 miles during 46 days on the road.
“What can I say, I love driving. I love the adventure. After a lifetime of BMWs, this was my first Porsche and I really wanted to experience it,” the former Silicon Valley software engineer explained to Robb Report.
As an early adopter of electric vehicles, Louv was one of the 700 so-called “Electronauts” to lease a BMW 1-series-based ActiveE prototype back in 2012. But a driving force for this journey was that he wanted to see if it was possible to do a lap of the U.S. in an electric car that wasn’t a Tesla.
“It started out as a plan to go visit my mom in California. But there were friends in Vancouver I wanted to see. Others in San Diego. And I’d never been to Key West. So, I thought, why not?”
He had added his name to the Taycan waiting list last October, being told by his local Porsche dealer that it would likely be this summer before he could take delivery. But when he got a call in January asking if he wanted to test drive the just-arrived dealer demo, he jumped at the chance.
“I loved it; the performance was just sensational. I asked the sales guy, ‘who gets to buy this one?’ When told it was mine if I wanted it, I think my jaw dropped to the floor.”
To buy the Jet Black Metallic Turbo, Louv traded his trio of BMWs—a much-loved BMW i8, an X6M SUV and a stick-shift M2. Now with the keys to his new electric Porsche in hand, he researched the best way to navigate from his home Maine to his mom’s house in Santa Cruz, Calif. Normally, it’s a straight shot west across I-80 for 3,250 miles.
“Trouble is, there are no DC fast-chargers in the whole of Wyoming,” notes Louv. “That’s 450 miles without a fast-charging station. The alternative was to take I-40 south, through northern Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. That wasn’t too appealing.”
Then his intrepid spirit kicked-in—after all, this is a guy who rode 13,000 miles on his BMW motorcycle to the top of Alaska and back.
Why not take the iconic Trans-Canada Highway across to Vancouver, through Winnipeg and Calgary, and make this a true “Four Corners” trip? What did it matter that this was January, frigid cold, and Canada’s charging station infrastructure was in its infancy?
“What did I learn from driving 11,000 miles around the U.S. in a new electric Porsche? The main thing; you spend a lot of time trying to figure out where the next charging station is. You definitely have to plan ahead; you can’t just drive around looking for one. I loaded maybe half a dozen ‘find-a-charging-station’ apps on to my phone. Even then, so many times on the trip I’d find a station, plug in and it wouldn’t communicate with the car. Or it was just non-functional.” Then there was an issue, Louv discovered, with the Porsche’s software.
“On a bunch of occasions, I’d start in the morning, and it would simply not remember that it was an electric car. The nav screen would be showing me where all the gas stations were. Typically, it would take an hour of driving for it to wake up. If I hadn’t had the apps on my phone, I would have been in trouble,” he explains.
To try and solve the problem, he took the Taycan to the Porsche dealer in Calgary and its data logs were sent to engineers in Germany in an attempt to find a solution to the software glitch. They’re still on the case.
Louv’s longest day on the road? That would be his last—Friday the 13th of March—the day the coronavirus pandemic was declared a national emergency.
“I suddenly felt the need to get home. I left Asheville, N.C., at 6 a.m. and drove the 1,047 miles back to Maine, arriving at 2.30 a.m.—and with seven stops along the way for electron fixes.” I guess what I learned is that it’s absolutely possible to do this trip in a high-range electric car. And it’s certainly easier to do it in a Taycan because it charges faster than pretty much anything else out there.
“When I used Electrify America charging stations, my stops were 20, maybe 30 minutes. For me, 30 minutes was perfectly acceptable. No, it’s not like pulling in to a gas station, filling-up and being gone in five minutes. But I could grab a coffee, hit the rest room, reply to email.”
What impressed him most about the Taycan Turbo on his 11,000-mile jaunt? “Definitely the performance,” states Louv. “For a 5,100-pound car to do zero-to-60 mph in 3.0 seconds and pull 1g with launch control (on winter tires), is stunning. But its refinement comes a pretty close second. Across Texas, I was cruising at 80 mph all day long in near silence. Car for long road trips don’t come better than this.”
What kind of calculated range was he seeing? “The most the car was telling me was 258 miles, but the average was usually around 215 miles,” mentions Louv. “But when you get down below 20 miles, you start to get pretty desperate to find a plug. I never completely depleted the battery, but I did get below two per cent with four miles left.”
With most gas prices currently dropping, does Louv see the appeal of electric cars waning? “No, after this trip I’m convinced more than ever they’re the future,” he says. “It’s awesome to start every day with a full ‘tank’ and never have to go to a gas station.”