Tesla S owners number high among new conquests for the Porsche Taycan

Jill Petzinger
Jill Petzinger, Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Oliver Blume, CEO of Porsche, during a media presentation of the new Porsche Taycan all-electic car at the International Auto Show in Frankfurt, September 10, 2019. Credit: Daniel Roland/AFP/Getty Images)

Porsche’s (PAH3.DE) new electric Taycan made its motor show debut on Tuesday in Frankfurt, after a dramatic livestream unveiling last week in China, North America, and Germany.

Naturally, car journalists and enthusiasts got busy right away comparing the range, price, and performance of the Porsche Taycan versus the Tesla S — widely regarded as natural rivals.

Porsche North America president and CEO Klaus Zellmer told Yahoo Finance UK in Frankfurt that he has no problems with people comparing the two electric cars, but for him the real test is how the car fits into the Porsche lineage, as well as people’s expectations for the brand’s first battery-electric vehicle.

“We are a thoroughbred sports car manufacturer, so we have to live up to the true values of a sports car brand that comes from the racetrack,” Zellmer said. “Our heritage is that practically everything we put on the street is being derived from some racing hardcore competition, and that’s what this car had to live up to.”

The Taycan’s credentials shape up like this:

  • 0-to-100kph (0-62 mph) in 2.8 seconds, and 0-to-200kph in 9.8 seconds, with a top speed of 260 km/h (161mph), and the combustion-engine equivalent of 760 horsepower.

  • Range-wise, it will do more than 300 miles on a single charge.

Data from the thousands of people who put down their name to pre-order a Taycan reveals that Tesla S drivers are keenly interested in the electric Porsche.

“Currently, 50% of the people who raised their hand or put down a deposit to get a Taycan already drive a Porsche, somewhere in their fleet, and the other 50% are people who do not drive a Porsche but another car.” Zellmer said. “The biggest group within that 50% that are new to the brand if they sign up to a Taycan is Tesla [owners].”

Klaus Zellmer, president and CEO of Porsche North America. Credit: Porsche AG

“In normal comparative situations, we would have BMW, Mercedes, Audi being amongst those that take into consideration changing from their premium car to a Porsche,” he added. “Now for the first time for us, Tesla S is the most important bucket that we have as a source of business going forward.”

He said that Porsche had been concerned that current Panamera customers would naturally gravitate towards the Taycan sedan, effectively cannibalising the brand “which is not really what you want.”

However, the “biggest surprise for us was that the biggest single source of business within Porsche customers was 911 drivers for Taycan.” A compliment to the new car’s sportiness, he says.

The Taycan is definitely expensive, with the Turbo priced around $150,000 and the Turbo S at $185,000, up to $50,000 more expensive than the Tesla S. So do Tesla owners just have really deep pockets? According to Zellmer, people still want value for money, but potential customers were already aware that the Taycan was going to be expensive before the price was made official. “They have now seen that and traffic in our dealerships suggests that it did not scare them away.”