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Lomiko Metals $ – Will Porsche’s Taycan Challenge Tesla’s EV Hegemony $ $ $ $ $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM-Eric at 10:43 AM on Monday, September 9th, 2019

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  • Porsche will be investing over US$6 billion in battery power over the next few years
  • Markedly superior to the Tesla Model S it competes with.

It just debuted two days ago, but Porsche has already taken some 30,000 deposits for its new Taycan. Not exactly Tesla numbers, but impressive nonetheless. Closer to home, more than 1,000 Canadians have plunked down $2,500 hoping to secure one of the first electrified Porsche four-doors to hit the street. Again, neither number rivals the multitudes that offered up deposits on Tesla’s Model 3, but Taycan does play in an entirely different snack bracket.

A more appropriate context, then, might be to note that said deposits are roughly equal to the number of 911s that Porsche Canada sells in its best of years. In other words, September 4’s worldwide launch of the Taycan was a very good day at the office for Porsche Canada’s president and CEO, Marc Ouayoun.

Now, never mind that a few of those chomping at the bit may well be put off by the Taycan’s price — the base Turbo starts at $173,900 and the Turbo S is a wallet-stretching $213,900. If that means Porsche has finally brought profitability to the electric vehicle segment, so much the better.

More important is that the company is depending on the Taycan to be successful, Detlev von Platen, Porsche’s executive board member for sales and marketing, telling the launch event attendees the company will be investing over US$6 billion in battery power over the next few years and expects more than 50 per cent of the company’s cars to be electrified within the next decade. In other words, Porsche needs the Taycan to be successful.

And more important than that is that the automotive industry needs the Taycan to be successful. So far, the electric vehicle segment has been all Tesla, the Silicon Valley upstart the only truly successful purveyor of battery power. Yes, I know Nissan’s Leaf remains the best-selling EV of all time, but, while semi-plentiful, it’s actually selling well below – barely 10 percent of initial projections – what was predicted when it was introduced ten years ago.

Tesla, meanwhile, has become the poster child for planet-friendly motoring, Elon Musk’s decision – whether it was brilliant insight or bulls%^t luck really doesn’t matter – to focus on the luxury segment proving to be providential. Whither goes Tesla, it now seems, goes the entire electric vehicle industry.

The problem is that Mr. Musk’s influence – and the cult-like devotion it has engendered – is not good for anyone except Tesla shareholders.

Whether you’re a fan of long-range plug-ins or prefer fuel cells, it is not so much that Tesla is winning, but that Mr. Musk so dominates the conversation surrounding EVs that it stifles discussion into what a truly multi-platform zero-emissions future might look like.

Now, to be certain, the company and man – for they are one and the same – deserve all the accolades they have received for a) creating the luxury EV segment where none existed and b) legitimizing the concept of the battery-powered car in the eyes of a formerly skeptical audience. For that, Mr. Musk will undoubtedly be lauded in history books as the founder of a movement.

The problem is that said worship has gone too far, creating disciples for whom any dissent, any mention of competitive brands is seen as traitorous. In my 35 years in this biz, I have see nothing – not the Ford-versus-Chevy wars, not Jeep Wrangler aficionados, not even “one-per-centers” devoted to their Hogs – to match the cult-like allegiance Tesla enjoys amongst its minions.

Unfortunately, that deference is stifling competition. Despite the deception that traditional automakers are dragging their heels on electrification, nothing could be further from the truth. The problem they all face is that, any time they introduce a (costly-to-develop) EV, they are met with the mildest of “mehs.”

Initially, they were decried as too ugly (Chevy’s Bolt), too slow (the Kia Soul) or lacking in panache (pretty much everyone). But, then Jaguar came out with the I-Pace, offering both pedigree and panache. Yet they too were greeted with another giant yawn. Too slow, said the disciples, ignoring the fact there’s more to a sporty automobile than Ludicrous acceleration. So I-Pace sales have crashed. Audi’s e-tron? Better, but hardly all-conquering, especially considering that the Model X with which it competes is the weakest model in Tesla’s lineup.

And that’s why the Taycan is so important. It meets every single objection even the most devoted of Teslarati could dream up. Brand image? None is stronger than Porsche’s. Build quality? Ditto. Beauty? The Taycan is the four-door 911 that Porsche always promised the Panamera would be. Ludicrously fast? My Lord, yes. Toss in handling that is all but a match for the best of supercars and you have a car that is markedly superior to the Tesla Model S it ostensibly competes with.

Oh, the haters will no doubt point to its price as an objection, but the fact remains that, if the Taycan fails to become a genuine Tesla rival – if not in sales then at least in influence – then we really may have to come to grips with the possibility that what we have been projecting as an electrified future is really just cult worship writ especially large.

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