Tesla’s Electric Vehicle Supremacy Meets a Dashing Challenger: Porsche

The Porsche Taycan is presented to the public on September 4 for the first time at three parallel events in North America, Germany and China. Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

On Wednesday, Porsche unveiled its first fully electric sports car, the Taycan, at the border between New York state and Canada’s Ontario against the beautiful backdrop of Niagara Falls—a setup to underscore the central theme of green energy in Porsche’s new offering.

At first glance, the Taycan looks strikingly similar to Tesla’s Model S: they are nearly the same length, share a sleek sedan shape and even have similar ranges (around 300 miles). The Porsche will be a lot pricier, though (unsurprisingly). The first two models to arrive, the 750-hp Turbo S and the 670-hp Turbo, are expected to start at $150,000, almost twice the price of comparable models by Tesla.

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Yet, hardcore Porsche fans may not find the hefty price tag too hard to swallow.

“The Taycan links our heritage to the future. It carries forward the success story of our brand—a brand that has fascinated and thrilled people the world over for more than 70 years. This day marks the start of a new era,” Porsche AG’s Chairman Oliver Blume said in an announcement on Wednesday.

In parallel to the Niagara Falls premiere, Porsche held two other Taycan events on Wednesday, one at a solar farm in Germany and another at a wind farm in China.

The Taycan is Porsche’s parent company Volkswagen’s latest bid to challenge Tesla’s growing dominance in the global electric vehicle (EV) market. (Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess recently expressed an interest in acquiring Tesla.) Last year, Tesla accounted for 12 percent of the world’s total EV sales, trailed by China’s BYD and BAIC. The two Chinese EV brands haven’t been of much concern to Volkswagen just yet as they mainly target the lower-end market.

The Taycan “is a turning point for Porsche and the industry as it raises the technical bar for electric vehicles beyond Tesla,” wrote Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Michael Dean in a report. He predicted that the Taycan would “be profitable from launch given Porsche’s proven pricing power, albeit at vastly reduced margins as compared with gas-powered models.”

Porsche’s prospect in the luxury EV sector looks even brighter considering that Tesla’s high-end models—the Model S and the Model X—have started to show signs of weakness in recent quarters.

In the second quarter, production of Model S and Model X fell by 41% from a year ago, and deliveries fell by 21%. Tesla’s total sales number looks healthy, still, largely thanks to booming sales of the affordable Model 3.

The Model 3 will soon meet a rival from Volkswagen, too, as the German automaker is set to debut its own mass-production EV model, the VW ID.3, later this month at the Frankfurt Auto Show in Germany.

Both Taycan and VW ID.3 are expected to start production before year-end.

Tesla’s Electric Vehicle Supremacy Meets a Dashing Challenger: Porsche