Our man takes a closer look at the latest American EV hypermiling record
If you had to drive across the US in an electric car, how much time do you think you would spend charging it?
It’s 2384.5 miles, by the way, and the car is a basic rear-wheel-drive Porsche Taycan with the optional big 84kWh battery, which achieves a maximum range of 301 miles on the European WLTP test and 225 miles on the more pessimistic/realistic American EPA one.
So how long would you spend plugged in? You would start in Los Angeles with a full battery and finish in New York with an empty one, of course, so you would get your first 300 miles (or so) for nothing and pant over the finish line. And you might stop, what, 10 times, for an hour each time, if you drove carefully and used only nice big juicy chargers.
That’s not good enough for Guinness World Record holder Wayne Gerdes, who is a dab hand at EV endurance testing. Over six days in late 2021, he set a new record by driving a Taycan coast to coast while spending just two hours, 26 minutes and 48 seconds charging it.
That broke the previous record (a respectable seven hours, 10 minutes and one second, achieved in a Kia EV6) by almost five hours.
Gerdes is an expert in hypermiling and talks about it on his enthusiastic website, cleanmpg.com. Hypermiling, if you don’t know, is the craft of squeezing as much economy out of a vehicle as possible. The further Gerdes could maximise the Taycan’s range, the less charging it would need.
But that was just part of his success; it was mainly thanks to charging. “From a low standard charge with a decent battery temperature, the Taycan just walks over everything,” he said.
He used charging company Electrify America’s 350kW chargers and made sure the Taycan was ready to accept its highest input levels. That requires a near-empty and warm battery.
In that state, the Taycan can take up to 260kW and often did. At anything above 50% charge, the rate dramatically drops, so he would fill just enough to reach the next stop in a ready state.
In all, he made 22 charging stops, each one short. None was longer than 11 minutes and 25 seconds; the shortest was just two minutes and 17 seconds.
Gerdes has loads of data – as is essential on a verified world record attempt – to accompany the story. In total, he put 522kWh of energy into the Taycan and travelled 4.7 miles for each kWh – more than double its EPA rating.
Annoyingly, there’s just one thing missing: how slowly he drove to do it.
Gerdes says he has “no idea” of his average speed, because the paperwork added four to six hours of time per day with the car stationary but switched on (turning it off cools the battery).
But hypermiling an EV can be a sluggish affair: last year, the charity Mission Motorsport got 475 miles out of a Renault Zoe by averaging 19mph.
Still, if Gerdes had driven for 10 hours a day, he would have averaged 40mph; at 15 hours, 26mph. That may not sound much, but extremes have a big effect on averages, so a typical highway speed would be notably faster (I’ve asked him what, but he has yet to reply).
All right, you wouldn’t do it like this. Cross-country, you would actually charge while you were asleep or eating cheese. But still: two hours for 2000 miles? Pretty good going.