At the LA Auto Show last month, Klaus Zellmer, president of North American operations for Porsche, had some interesting things to say to Tim Stevens of CNET Road Show. His company has had a “pretty amazing” level of interest in its upcoming Taycan 4 door electric sports car, he said.
In particular, the number of people willing to plunk down a $2,500 deposit to pre-order one has exceeded all expectations. “If all the people [who preordered] buy this car, then we are sold out for the first year,” Zellmer said, and 20,000 sales would make the Taycan one of Porsche’s best selling models. However, it would not approach the ~50,000 Tesla Model S sedans sold each year.
“More than half of the people that are signing up for the Taycan have not owned or do not own a Porsche,” Zellmer added, which led to this question: What car do they own? “Typically, if we look at our source of business — people coming from other brands — it’s Audi, BMW, or Mercedes. The no. 1 brand now is Tesla. That’s pretty interesting, to see that people that were curious about the Tesla for very good reasons obviously don’t stop being curious.”
Is that surprising? Maybe not. Most existing Tesla owners are early adopters. If they jumped on the Tesla bandwagon early, why wouldn’t they want to try the new new thing? Especially in California, where car culture has been dominant ever since Harry Truman took the train back to Independence, well heeled buyers are always on the hunt for what’s next.
Green Car Reports speculates that current Tesla owners may be attracted to the Taycan’s 800 volt drivetrain, which can reportedly recharge in half as much time as a Tesla (assuming you can find an ultra-fast charger). Or they may think the Porsche will offer a more luxuriously appointed interior.
Is Porsche worried that the Taycan — and its soon to appear first cousin, the Cross Turismo — will compete head to head with Audi models that are based on the same chassis? Not really. The Audi e-tron GT will share a chassis with the Taycan, but people will be able to tell the difference by the way the two cars drive.
“When it’s about being competitive,” he said, “it’s something that really has to fully speak Porsche. If you drive a Macan, you know that we share a platform [with Audi], but it’s a completely different car. And that’s exactly what has to happen and I’m sure Audi has followed a same path.”
Should Tesla be worried that some of its current owners may make the switch to an all-electric Porsche? Probably not. There are tens of millions of people who would give their eye teeth to own a Tesla. The other upside is that if some of those Tesla owners do change horses midstream, that will mean more pre-owned Teslas for sale to those who don’t have the resources to buy a new one.
When it comes to the electric car revolution, the more competitive cars available — new and used — the better for us and for the Earth.