Life Science & Technology

If an electric supercar drives through a forest and doesn’t make a sound, is it still a supercar?

The Porche Taycan is set to be Porsche’s first purely electric supercar when it is released this fall.

Electric vehicles have never had the reputation of being very fast. Purely electric cars have had a much slower top speed than those that run on gas and obviously, that is going to be a problem for the supercar market. However, recent improvements may change that. The fully electric Porsche Taycan will have a top speed of 240 km/h, Ferrari’s new hybrid will have a top speed of 340 km/h, and Tesla’s 2020 Roadster will have a top speed of 400km/h.

While electric vehicles have struggled to achieve these top speeds in the past, they’ve always been quick off the start. Tesla engineer, Dustin Grace, explains how electric vehicles are quicker because they generate much more torque than gas-powered vehicles, which is important because torque is what drives the vehicle forward. The power generated from the electric motor goes straight to the wheels for instant acceleration, making electric vehicles quicker, even if they’re not faster.

Supercars are obviously expensive, but electric supercars are actually cheaper. An example that illustrates this is the Porsche Taycan. Available in the market by the end of 2019, the supercar will cost only $85,000 USD. With a top speed of 155mph or 240km/h and 600hp, it is similar in performance to the gasoline-powered Porsche 911 GT3 RS which has 520hp but will cost you over $200,000 USD. If the car is just as fast and just as luxurious as any other supercar, why is it so much cheaper to own? Well, in general, the engines of electric cars are not as complex as gas-powered vehicles which makes it easier for car manufacturers to install parts.

Conventional supercars are expensive to maintain — a regular oil change on your Ferrari 488 GTB will cost $1,100 — but an electric vehicle is likely to have lower maintenance costs. They don’t need oil changes at all, for example. Additionally, recharging your vehicle is significantly less expensive than filling up your car with gas. Unfortunately, you won’t save any money from Government rebates, however, which in Canada, only apply when purchasing an electric vehicle that is under $55,000.

Most of the disadvantages that apply to electric supercars are the same concerns that apply to electric vehicles generally. They are fairly new and the consumer does not yet know a lot about their durability and how long they will last. It is estimated that the battery on an electric vehicle will last 8 years before it needs to be replaced, but a lot of this technology hasn’t been subjected to long term testing yet. And although maintenance on electric vehicles is much cheaper and less frequent, you might still pay lots just in other ways, such as for repairing small electrical malfunctions. Of course, the availability of charging stations remains an issue, especially on freeways and highways. Charging duration is also a major concern as recharging a battery can be quite a time investment compared to gassing up. Finally, there is a smaller variety of electric vehicles to choose from, and when it comes to electric supercars, the options are limited yet further. At present, there are hybrid supercars out, but we are still waiting for purely electric supercars, with the Porsche Taycan being expected this fall.

However, one thing that may be a problem for supercar buyers in particular is the sound. Supercar fanatics love the loud roar of a big engine. Electric vehicles, on the other hand, are completely silent. Throughout the years, the authentic scream that supercars produce is what defines them and manufacturers fear this may prove to be a huge factor in losing the attention of electric supercar consumers.

As technology keeps improving and influencing our lives, it is inevitable that electric vehicles are the new future. Electric supercars are cheaper and they can perform just as well as gas-powered supercars, but can they be accepted into the supercar community? Without the massive roar, will they still feel like supercars at all? This could prove a challenge to the identity that certain brands have created. As Reid Bigland, head of Maserati and Alfa Romeo asked, “If we were to bring a full-on battery-electric Maserati to the market, would it still be a Maserati?”

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