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EPA Testing Vs Real-Life Testing Part 2: Was The Edmunds’ Porsche Taycan Vs Tesla Model Y Test Fair?

A few days ago, we reported that a company called Edmunds conducted a real-life range test. They compared the Model Y Performance and Porsche Taycan 4S, and they put these two vehicles to a self-designed test. In the report of this test, they pointed the finger at EPA testing and questioned its credibility. Now, however, there are fingers being pointed at Edmunds.

EPA Testing vs Real-Life Testing Part 2: Was The Edmunds’ Test Fair?

The reason for this is that Edmunds has failed to reveal the details of this self-designed test. There is no mention of the conditions under which the vehicles are tested on their website. Furthermore, there are questions about the credibility of Edmunds itself. Sam Alexander, a YouTuber, has posted a video asking these questions.

The Edmunds Test

Edmunds mentioned in their test that there are many points in the EPA testing that work in favor of Tesla.

  1. Tesla opts for the five-cycle test, while Porsche opts for the two-cycle test. This decision affects the range estimates a lot, as the five-cycle test is more extensive.
  2. EPA tests all cars in their default drive mode. Hence, the Range mode in the Porsche Taycan does not get tested. This mode is supposed to increase efficiency, and so, Porsche gets a worse estimate.
  3. Regenerative braking strength affects the range of electric vehicles. Tesla’s default regen setting is “High”, so it gets a better estimate.
  4. Tesla allows its users to charge their cars to 100%, while Porsche puts stricter restrictions on its battery pack to conserve battery life. So, during Edmunds’ test, they charged the Tesla Model Y only to 90%, as that is the recommended figure.

Edmunds did not mention whether or not they rectified these ‘errors’ made by EPA. But considering that they did call these mistakes out, one can assume that they made rectifications. Again, you have to assume, because Edmunds has released no details about their testing methods. This brings us to Sam Alexander’s side of the story.

The Sam Alexander Story

Sam Alexander’s video starts with calling Edmunds out for not comparing apples with apples. Edmunds compared a Tesla crossover with an electric Porsche sportscar. This would have made sense if the Model Y was Tesla’s only vehicle or the closest vehicle to the Taycan 4S. But Tesla has a luxurious sedan, namely the Model S, which is in many ways closer to the Taycan. Not to mention that the Model Y Performance is Tesla’s “Performance” variant with the least range across all models. This kind of destroys the entire premise of this test.

It is not very smart to pit a sporty Porsche against a larger Tesla. Yes, the Model Y does have a better 0-60 mph (96.5 kph) timing than the Taycan 4S, which is beyond surprising. But that issue is between Tesla and Porsche. The point being made is that Edmunds should have compared the Taycan with the Model S, for a better contest.

Tesla’s Battery Utilization

Sam then called Edmunds out for the battery usage of the Tesla. Edmunds charged the Model Y only up to 90% because that is the recommendation from Tesla. But it doesn’t make a lot of sense to test the range of a vehicle when it’s not fully charged. You are putting the performance of a car to test, but you aren’t utilizing the entire potential. Edmunds said that the reason for this is that Porsche puts a restriction on its battery packs, rather than leave it to the customers as Tesla does. But then, Tesla does give you the option and trusts you to make the right decision, while Porsche imposes the restrictions on you. And this is Porsche’s decision.

Porsche’s Range Mode

The Range mode in the Porsche Taycan is considered to be the energy-efficient mode. But it restricts its top speed to 70 mph (113 kph), although the customer can adjust it to a maximum of 85 mph (137 kph) while compromising on a bit of efficiency. But if a person is buying a Porsche, he/she doesn’t want to restrict their top speed to 85 mph. That is not why you buy a Porsche. Same goes with the regenerative braking setting. Tesla has the default setting as “High” because it wants to focus on energy consumption. Porsche, on the other hand, wants the Taycan to feel like a Porsche, so they have the default setting to the lowest strength. Yes, you can change these settings, but there is a reason why the automaker has set certain settings as default.

Our Opinion

This is a bit of conundrum – do you trust a ‘standard’ test carried out in a lab, or a real-world test that is not being logical. The answer is you trust neither. The EPA tests are trusted by many experts because they offer companies an option between the two-cycle and five-cycle test. Which test to opt for is the company’s decision, and that affects the results they get. The reason behind testing the cars with its default setting is that these default settings talk about the company’s ideology. Porsche does not have the Range mode as the default, because they want their car to be driven like a Porsche. Tesla has different priorities. So it makes sense to respect these decisions made by the companies.

At the same time, the EPA tests are something that is being carried out since the 1970s. Yes, they have made modifications, but running a car inside a lab and estimating its range on the road isn’t entirely logical.

So the conclusion is that real-life tests can provide a much more accurate estimate, but they need to be carried out properly. And if a company is publishing the results of a self-designed test and drawing conclusions, the least they can do is reveal details of this test. That way, other people can carry out these tests and verify the results. There is no point in working in the dark, and being transparent is only going to help the industry.

Mihir Tasgaonkar
Mihir Tasgaonkar
A mechanical engineer who loves reading and writing about new technologies in the automobile industry.


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