The Porsche Taycan may be seeing some delays in its production schedule, but the all-electric vehicle from Stuttgart’s premier sports car maker continues to attract a lot of interest nonetheless. And if a recent statement from Klaus Zellmer, president and CEO of Porsche Cars North America, is any indication, it appears that the Taycan is starting to attract veteran EV adopters, particularly those who are existing Tesla owners.
In a statement to CNBC during the LA Auto Show, Zellmer stated that out of “thousands” of potential US customers who have shown a “sincere interest” in the Taycan, Tesla owners are among the largest groups among non-Porsche owners. The Porsche North America CEO stated that this was a surprise, but it is a very pleasant one considering the loyalty of Tesla’s customer base.
“They currently drive a Tesla, they’re open to experiencing something new now. We’re very happy about that. We were actually surprised right from the get-go to see Tesla be so much in the foreground as a potential source of business,” Zellmer said.
This statement has been interpreted by Tesla critics as a sign that the Taycan is starting to eat into the Silicon Valley-based electric car maker’s customer base. While this may be the case in some cases, there is a good chance that there is a completely different reason behind Tesla owners’ interest in the Taycan. A lot of it has to do with the price of the Taycan itself, as well as its target demographic.
It should be noted that before the Model 3, Tesla exclusively produced premium electric cars that competed in the luxury market. This means that before the Model 3, Tesla’s customers were comprised mostly of upper-tier households that can afford the premium price commanded by the flagship Model S sedan and Model X SUV. This particular demographic also tends to be fully capable of keeping two or more vehicles in their garages.
Considering that the most affordable Taycan, the Taycan 4S, is more expensive than the top-tier Model S Performance, there is a good chance that Porsche’s all-electric sports car is attracting the interest of customers who can afford a thoroughbred sports EV and a Tesla if needed. This is especially true considering that Tesla is focusing most of its efforts in the Model 3, a vehicle that is roughly half the price of the cheapest Taycan, and about a third of the price of the mid-tier Taycan Turbo.
In conclusion, the interest in the Taycan coming from existing Tesla owners bodes well for the electric car movement as a whole. In Porsche’s part, this means that its first foray into the modern all-electric car is seeing interest from some of the most experienced EV owners in the market. This also bodes well for Tesla, as it shows that the company has conditioned its customers to explore other options, but only those that are also all-electric. This is very encouraging, as Tesla is now attempting to disrupt the mid-tier market with the Model 3, a vehicle that is accessible to far more customers than the Model S and X.
As for the bearish thesis that the Porsche Taycan is “stealing” sales from Tesla, this might not hold water at all. Experienced EV buyers, especially those that have owned Teslas in the past, are aware that the Taycan is priced above the Model S despite having far less range and less driver-assist systems like Autopilot. Thus, these customers are likely not “leaving” Tesla because Porsche’s EV is “far superior.” Instead, they are likely purchasing the Taycan for what it truly excels at: a driving experience that echoes the best that Porsche can offer.
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Author: Simon Alvarez