If that appears like rather a lot, provided that EVs such because the Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf promote for lots lower than $US50,000, properly, welcome to Porsche. The priciest Panamera, the wagon model of the hybrid four-door, is available in at almost $US200,000. There are actually dozens of different Porsches that crack the $US100,000 ceiling.
There’s a purpose why Porsche posts a few of the juiciest and most envied revenue margins within the automobile enterprise. If you need a day by day driver, look to Volkswagen (Porsche has since in inception after World Struggle II been entwined with VW and is now a part of the large VW Group).
Ever since the Taycan was first touted as a concept car, known then as the Mission E, it’s been pitted against Tesla, currently the dominant all-electric car maker, with 2018 sales of nearly 250,000 vehicles. There’s something to this: the EV market, even in the affluent and early-adopting, tech-giddy US, is tiny relative to the gasoline-powered realm. But Tesla has shown that an upstart brand can validate the prospects of cars that run not on incinerated dinosaur remains, but on electrons.
That’s given the world’s established car makers a legitimate excuse to pursue electrification, despite the general lack of receptivity among the buying public. (The 10 per cent to 20 per cent sales penetration that car companies were throwing around for EVs back in 2010 has manifested as something more like 2 per cent.)
But take it all with a grain of salt. Porsche sold about only 8000 Panameras in the US last year – a perfectly satisfactory result because the vehicle is so expensive. The alternative-propulsion versions of the car make a marginal contribution to that total, and are priced accordingly. Even a cheaper version of the Taycan would probably cost more than the least expensive Panamera, which already costs about as much as the most fully blinged-out Tesla Model S (if you maximally trick out the highest-spec Model S, you’re looking at something like $US115,000).
Sales volumes matter to Porsche, but bear in mind that the company isn’t trying to sell to everybody. In fact, it’s ultimately trying to sell to almost nobody – nobodies who would joyfully cough up six figures to be able to quote Tom Cruise in Risky Business, from behind the wheel of a 928: “Porsche – there is no substitute.” Porsche sold about a quarter of a million vehicles in 2018, so it’s not breathing the same rarefied air as Ferrari (fewer than 10,000 in total 2018 sales), but when one goes shopping for a Porsche, one does not bring a lightweight chequebook.
What you get for the hefty outlay is the best-driving car on the planet. And it doesn’t matter if you choose the 911 or the Cayenne. I’ve driven a lot of Porsches, and something special always happens when you fire up for example, the legendary flat-six boxer engine in a 911 and apply throttle: on the asphalt, Porsches are magic. In a recent test of the new Cayenne SUV, it took me all of 5 seconds to be transported to that transcendent Porsche frame of mind. I wish to say that if I needed to drive for my life, I’d need to be driving a Porsche.
One more reason for Porsche to throw down an electrified gauntlet with the Taycan is that the corporate, like all automobile makers, is up towards a way forward for extra stringent fuel-economy and emissions rules. EVs assist with total fleet compliance, enabling continued gross sales of big-ticket petrol automobiles. The VW Group total additionally has run smack into an enormous downside with its diesel technique, within the gloomy wake of its 2015 emission-cheating scandal. Because of this, the group has pivoted to electrification in a significant method.
So what ought to Tesla make of the Taycan?
No a lot, to be trustworthy. Tesla proved that EVs may very well be greater than glorified golf carts when it rolled out its horny unique Roadster, and the Efficiency trim of the Mannequin S could be configured to outrun supercars from zero to 60mp/h (96.6km/h).
However the Mannequin S is quite lengthy within the tooth at this juncture, relationship again to 2012 with only some modest refreshes since then. With the less-expensive Mannequin three and forthcoming Mannequin Y crossover, Tesla is transferring away from the Mercedes-Audi-BMW-Lexus luxurious sedan market and concentrating extra on a sort of tweener house, simply above the mass market.
Porsche has no real interest in these segments, leaving them to Audi and VW. Porsche additionally leads with efficiency, so typical EV fixations similar to vary are much less necessary. That’s why Porsche is utilizing an 800-volt design and a 93 kilowatt-hour battery structure for the Taycan, aiming to optimise dynamics and recharge occasions quite than uncooked distance-per-charge. A Taycan proprietor is unlikely to care about vary if their Porsche doesn’t drive like, you recognize, a Porsche.
Tesla house owners don’t care about Nürburgring laps, whereas Porsche house owners most positively do
That implicit standard means that Taycan and Tesla occupy different cognitive regions, beyond the basic distinctions of a $US188,000 EV versus a $US115,000 one. Tesla Model S owners don’t care that their car hasn’t lapped the Nürburgring in 7 minutes, 42 seconds (the Taycan’s impressive time), and even lapped the Nürburgring in any respect (a Mannequin S hasn’t, at pace, and Tesla has by no means formally taken on the well-known German observe). Porsche Taycan house owners, in the meantime, could be dismayed if the Taycan hadn’t conquered the “Inexperienced Hell”. They’re deeply conscious that a lot of Porsche’s historical past was cast and its credibility nurtured in motorsports.
The difficult factor right here is that as a result of the EV market is so small, there’s at the moment a scarcity of significant competitors. Tesla, understandably, has the market kind of to itself. And that’s no discount, as a result of in 15 years of existence, the corporate has posted lower than a handful of worthwhile quarters.
In that point, in fact, Tesla has offered its automobiles for round $US100,000 on common, and that’s what garnered the eye of the Porsches. Established luxurious automobile makers determine they’re a lot better at constructing automobiles than Tesla and may in impact “create” new market share in EVs, with very excessive costs changing to wealthy margins. Tesla, in any case, has bungled its strategy to 250,000 in annual gross sales, including some extent or so of share to a US market that earlier than 2018 had seemed fairly properly locked up by way of market-share growth.
Of course, Wall Street short-sellers cheerleading for Tesla’s demise are going to herald the Taycan’s arrival as a watershed moment when Tesla’s luxury-sedan business collapses as all the Model S customers jump to Porsche. Likewise, Tesla bulls will argue that the Taycan is too expensive and not tech-y enough to unsettle the Model S.
They’re both making the same error: assuming that the cars are trying to capture the same customers. Sure, there could be some overlap, but for the most part, if you seek high-performance four-door electric driving, and you have the cash, the Taycan is your ride. If you want an electric alternative to something like a BMW 5- or 7-Series, the Model S has always been for you. Although with the Model S ageing and no redesign on the horizon, it’s not out of the question that Tesla may let the car wither as it shifts farther downmarket with the Models 3 and Y. So get your Model S while the getting is good!
You’re going to hear a lot about Tesla-Porsche competition now that the Taycan is a reality, and that’s fine. But it’s also the script that both car makers want to hear everybody reading from, yielding as it does a welter of free advertising (especially valuable for Tesla, where the ad budget is CEO Elon Musk’s Twitter feed). There’s also some reflexive truth to Tesla versus Taycan; car people are raised on the concept of competition as central, and by the time they rise to the executive ranks, they dutifully recite the shibboleths in the same way that major-league ballplayers tell reporters that they’re taking things one game at a time and are in it for the team.
That rhetoric masks what is often a healthy absence of competition, particularly when you’re dealing with something esoteric, such as high-performance electric sedans. Nobody needs a $US115,000 Tesla Model S or a $US188,000 Porsche Taycan Turbo S (reliable motorised transport can be obtained for $US20,000).
But there’s a significant number of people who want a Tesla or a Porsche, and their mindshare tends to be well-capitalised. Auto execs who hope to live well have few qualms about creating products that will separate those people from a percentage of their net worth. Porsche has been doing it for decades.
The bottom line is that in the battle between Tesla and Taycan, there’s really no contest. Everybody wins. Especially wealthy consumers, who now have in Porsche not just more all-electric choice, but an EV that’s based on the explicitly hedonistic values of driving performance, while simultaneously borrowing Tesla’s save-the-Earth ethics.
That said, I must admit that after driving every Tesla ever made – and quite enjoying them all – I’m personally looking forward to some Taycan seat time for something entirely different.