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Newsletter | Whistleblower: Porsche covers up Taycan problems? – Tesla sells Cyberquad for Kids – and more

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Is Porsche hiding something?

Porsche Taycan
caption for image

You won't see this in the news yet.

My deep dive here is based on an article from Alex Voigt, an EV journalist in Germany I've been following for a while now. So far he has been a great and reliable source. He now shared the story via Teslarati that he says is from a whistleblower from Porsche's headquarters. (link)

It will be very hard to investigate this issue properly and prove it to be true, so as with anything these days, you get to decide if it might be true or not before (and IF) we get official news about this.

For example, a bunch of members in this Taycan forum think it's not true. Through my own experiences with the industry, I'm leaning towards - yes, this looks like it can check out. Sadly.

I also spoke with Alex directly and he asked me to let you know, that:

I have much more information than just what is written in the article that would back up the credibility, but in order to protect my source, I was asked not to publish it.

I consider recording a video to explain more which I will publish on my YT channel.

Thanks, Alex. Now here's my roundup with a few additions to his story:

The Porsche whistleblower

A Porsche whistleblower says six out of ten Porsche Taycans ever delivered have a problem with battery management that "affects and damages battery cells, requires replacement of cells and batteries, and is causing vehicle fires".

He/she says  Porsche is hiding the problem from customers and authorities and quietly replacing damaged battery cell modules without informing customers to cover up the problem, just saying they 'fixed' the problem.

If true, the problem is anything but fixed.

The Scope

Let's define the scope of the problem: Porsche's Taycan family has outsold even the Porsche 911 in the first three quarters of this year and should have around 55,000 electric cars on the road since starting in 2020, by my estimation.

If the 6 out of 10 is true, this gives us roughly 33k cars with the alleged problem.

The Details

Taycan's charging logic visualized (link)

The source explained to Alex, that the 800V high-voltage onboard charger isn't controlling the charging process well enough, and can overcharge some of the cells, causing the cells to overheat.

As far as I understand, this occurs when AC charging at a rate up to 7.5kW (also called "home charging" or "slow charging"), which should be roughly using up to 1-phase 32A at 230V.

Porsche's technology isolates damaged cells from the battery pack, thus reducing the range of the car.

Porsche's internal statistics show 1% (360 of 36k) vehicles to have had a preventable vehicle, cable, or smoldering fire attributable to the problem, the whistleblower claims.


🔌 Here's a plug (the story continues below):

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The Audacity

Battery of Taycan

He/she also said that Porsche tricks customers out of noticing the range-reduction problems from the "now-locked" battery capacity by unlocking the unused, reserved battery capacity that every EV has. As far as I know, the 71kWh Taycan has a reserve capacity of roughly 8 to 10 kWh, so plenty of playroom.

The whistleblower claims this needs to come to light because Porsche had recently decided not to replace the onboard charger going forward, which is clearly deceptive and a safety issue.

Now, a more sophisticated onboard charger would have solved the problem - costing Porsche a whole 70 euros extra per car. But in this case, it's all about keeping costs to a minimum.

This conundrum is something that I call misaligned incentives. The bonuses often depend on how well teams meet the target costs, which in turn can lead to bad decisions.

Audi e-tron GT, which runs on the same J1 platform and uses many several parts, doesn't have the problem because, for some reason, Audi opted for a different (and better) onboard charger.

It is also important to note, that Porsche has a way lower battery warranty than the EV industry average - 60k km (37k mi), whereas the average is 160k km (~100k mi).

There are more details to the story, which you can read in full via Teslarati (here).

The Big Picture

Porsche opted for a cheaper onboard charger and the situation might be spiraling out of control.

There are four ways I think this story can go forward:

  1. It is all untrue. Good for everyone.
  2. It is true and Porsche manages to cover up most of it. The owners lose, because their car will depreciate heavily in the future, and will be out of warranty. Big lawsuits come in, let's say, 2026. Bad for owners, later bad for Porsche.
  3. It is true and Porsche takes responsibility and issues a total recall, replacing the onboard charger and the battery modules. Good for owners, bad for Porsche, but less than (2)... maybe.
  4. It is true, and a formal investigation reveals the wrongdoings. Total recall comes anyway, lawsuits will add to it. Porsche is frunked.

Remember our coverage on how the LG Chem <> Bolt and Kona fires panned out? It's all about deny-deny-deny anything happened as long as you can.

The Taycan is a wonderful car. I do hope the whole house doesn't crumble because of a 70€ cut-cost that spirals out of their control.

Thank you, Alex, for breaking the story. It demands guts to be behind this piece. We're anxiously looking forward to seeing where this leads to.

PS! Alex Voigt is an independent journalist (kind of like me) and I invite you to consider supporting him via his Patreon page here. No, he doesn't know I'm saying this here.

Join the EV Universe for weekly coverage on the EV industry. 1,600+ owners, industry leaders, and enthusiasts are on board already. Join at www.evuniverse.io

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Here, rest your eyes for a bit.

🚗 Tesla released its Cyberquad for Kids (8+). Developed together with Radio Flyer, it's already available for purchase on the Tesla website for $1,900. Looks like it's out of stock for now. 15-mile range, cushioned seats, LED lights, fully adjustable suspension, and a full steel frame should make it fun.

Cyberquad

Some more fun: here's the Chief Designer of Tesla, Franz von Holzhausen, fooling around with the quads with the kids:

OK, now let's carry on.


🚗 Model focus: BMW i4

i4

Looks like we're all about Europe today. I promise more US/Asia next week.

BMW delivered its first i4's to customers last weekend, three months earlier than originally planned. The first iX was delivered last week. (link)

It will hit the streets from €59.2k ($67k) in Germany and has a range of around 590 km (367 mi) WLTP on an 80.7 kWh battery. So I'd guess around 480 km (300 mi) in the real world.

I'm excited about this one. Can't wait to test it. See Bjorn's review of the i4 M50 (performance) from a month ago (video) and the configurator (UK version, DE version).

Bigger picture

This is BMW's electric lineup this far:

i4 series

Technically, the Mini Cooper SE fits in as well (Mini is a BMW subsidiary since 2000).

I find the BMW i4 as an especially interesting model if they ramp up production fast. Germany is Europe's largest auto market after all. And the home to the (former?) giants.

Musk was concerned about winning Germany the most and said back in 2013 when visiting a dealership in Germany:

"I feel like if we can’t do well in Germany, then that’s not a good sign".

Fast forward to today, one in four Teslas sold in Europe is hitting the roads of Germany, with 26k cars sold in the first three quarters of 2021.

Tesla also sold more Model 3's in September (6,828) in Germany than BMW's 3 Series, Audi A4, and Mercedes C-Class combined (6,100).

The Model 3 and VW ID.4 also dominate the EV top from January to October this year in Germany:

Top20
From Cleantechnica (link)

BMW's i3 sits in 14th place with 9,413 units sold, which isn't a bad result at all, considering the model is now celebrating its 8th anniversary.

Question is - where will the i4 and iX be placed same time next year? Consider also, that the Giga Berlin will start the Made-in-Germany Model Y production in the next few months, which I estimate will reach about 50k models made for the first year.

I'd like to see what moves BMW will make to take back its home market. It has certainly lost it for now (we all know ICEs do not count).

If you want to know more about the EV situation in Germany, take a look at the January-October report from our friend José Pontes via CleanTechnica (here).

José also commented on this for our EV Universe, keep in mind that

People should compare quarterly averages when analyzing Tesla, so that their numbers are not over or undervalued.

I agree.

If you haven't yet, listen to the podcast we did with him on Spotify.


⚡ What else is new?

🌎 ACEA released their overview of all electric vehicle tax benefits & purchase incentives of the 27 European Union member states (pdf).

🌎Speaking of whistleblowers, Tesla released a $50 Cyberwhistle (shop), sold out in hours (of course).

Cybrrrwhistle

The announcement, as per Elon's usual, came on Twitter. This time, nudging against Apple's $19 Cloth:

🇬🇧 UK will require all new homes and businesses from 2022 to have EV charging stations. The gov hopes to gain 145k new charging points every year.  (link). I'll report back when we have more details.

I hope they won't go the route they went in my home country - Estonia - where a loophole in a similar law lets you just get past the requirements by adding a cable tunnel that runs under the parking lot. Nothing else. 🤦

🦸 Our last week's story on Tesla 12/9 Stock Split Conspiracy was featured in InsideEVs (link). Me = Proud.

⚡ Spain orders more than 1,000 gas stations to offer at least one DC charger for EVs from 2023 (link)

🚗 ☀️ Sono Motors claims the 248 solar cells in the Sion can add 112 km (70 mi) of range per week on average, and up to 245 km (152 mi), based on Munich, Germany, as an example. If true, that's rather impressive in this part of the world.

Sion

I'm wondering, what happens if someone crashes, for example, into your door?   Looks like it would be quite the cost, as you'll also have to replace the solar cells. If there's a hailstorm, I'd panic. Maybe not an issue at all?

🏎️ Formula E and FIA gave us a peek at the 3rd generation racing car, starting in Season 9 (S 08 starts this January). Fun fact: >40% of the energy used within a race will be produced by regenerative braking during the race. This is the world's most efficient race car.

GEN3

An e-racing deep dive is coming up in a few months for our paid members. Got lots of great material on Formula E, Extreme E, eKarting, and others already.

🔋 StoreDot announced a new patented technology that allows battery cells to "self-repair" while in use, allowing for longer life and better performance. (link)

The self-repairing system identifies a cell or string of cells that are underperforming or overheating, temporarily disabling them in order to proactively recondition them back to 100% performance, without the driver experiencing any driving interruption or loss of performance in their electric vehicle.

StoreDot

🚌😷 Vicinity e-buses will now feature the BioCloud, which samples the air for Covid-19 (link).  S/o to Ashrith Domun for showing me this.


What you missed

... because you aren't a paid member yet.

Yes, I'm teasing you to join.

On the last week's EV Industry² newsletter that only our paid members got, I wrote about:

  • VW poaching battery talent from Apple and BMW.
  • Tesla passing on a €1.1B government subsidy for the battery production in Giga Berlin (follow-up tomorrow).
  • California and how they decided to divide up the first $1.5B of the $3.9B EV investment package.
  • LFP production coming to the US.Lithium Valley (Salton Sea).
  • NIO & Shell collaboration, BP -> Aulon investment and how they fit into China's grand infra scheme.
  • And much more...

Here's where you get in, starting at $8.3/month for the annual plan, or $10/monthly:

Get access

I'd compare the prices to how much you can drive an ICE car with it for... but honestly, I haven't been to a gas station in about 5 years.


📚 Reading tip

EV-adjacent

A well-detailed take on how the battery-adjacent technologies can catalyze mass EV adoption, by BatteryBits with Charlie Parker (link).

Charlie was also kind enough to give us a private comment on the article:

Lacking firm commitments at COP26 from the vast majority of countries and OEMs, a market-based approach to decarbonizing road transport is the best shot at achieving climate targets.

I've connected with both Charlie (from Ratel Consulting) and Nicholas (from Intercalation Station) before. Both of them are way more knowledgeable than me about the battery industry.

Worth a read if you want to geek out a bit further!


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