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. He has been a great and reliable source. Alex now shared the story via Teslarati that he says is from a whistleblower from Porsche's headquarters.
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.
If you're new here, I'm all about accelerating EV adoption, that's literally what I do, full time, so no short-seller bs here. We just need to know the truth, good or bad.
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. This means Porsche is trying to cover up the problem, just saying they 'fixed' the problem.
If true, the problem is anything but fixed.
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 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 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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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) under certain conditions, whereas the EV 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
Did Porsche really opt for a cheaper onboard charger and instead of fixing the problem, cause it to spiral out of control?
There are four ways I think this story can go forward:
- It is all untrue. Good for everyone.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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-denying anything happened for 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 anxious to see 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.
I'll be keeping my eye on this story and update accordingly:
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