How the Porsche Taycan Isn’t a Tesla Killer—Yet

At launch, the first Porsche EV falls short in a few key ways.

The Porsche Taycan, Germany's long-awaited Tesla killer, has finally arrived. Elon Musk and the company he leads have ruled the luxury electric vehicle (EV) market ever since the Model S sedan arrived in 2012. Porsche first showed its Mission E concept in 2015 and customers will now get their hands on the production version in the form of the Taycan before the end of the year, with U.S. cars arriving in early 2020. But is the high-end Porsche EV really a Tesla Model S beater? That all depends on where your priorities sit.

If your focus is range, the Porsche won't excite you. The numbers aren't nearly what I expected, quite frankly. The long-range Tesla Model S carries an EPA-rated range estimate of 370 miles after its recent update. That's impressive. Porsche hasn't released the Taycan's official EPA numbers but looking at the more optimistic European WLTP figures, expect a maximum EPA rating of around 230 miles. That's not impressive. And you'll have to wait a bit longer to replenish the Porsche's battery when charging at home. The onboard charger on the current Tesla Model S juices up the battery pack at up to 11.5 kW. Porsche caps the Taycan at 9.6 kW, at least for now; future Taycan models are rumored to feature a 22-kW onboard AC charger. To be fair, Porsche quotes a zero to 100 percent recharge time of 9.5 hours at 9.6 kW. That should be plenty quick for most owners via an overnight charge at home, especially considering that an EV's battery is rarely brought all the way down to empty.

Mobile charging away from home is an even stronger win for Tesla, at least currently. Musk's company has the well-developed, proprietary Supercharger network for fast recharging on road trips. Porsche—well, VW Group—has its own charging infrastructure in Electrify America. It offers quicker-than-Tesla-Superchargers DC fast-charging at up to 270 kW, refilling the Taycan's battery pack from 5 to 80 percent in 22.5 minutes. But the 800-volt Electrify America network has a long way to go until it matches the number of Superchargers offered by Tesla.

There are other, 400-volt DC fast-charging networks that the Taycan can utilize. But a Tesla can use certain non-Tesla DC fast-chargers also, as long as you purchase the extra cost ($602) CHAdeMO adapter. Just keep in mind that a Tesla is capped at 50 kW when using that CHAdeMO charging method. Still, Porsche does the usual Porsche thing and makes you reach into your wallet for certain should-be-standard features. The Taycan is also capped at 50 kW, for non-Electrify America 400-volt DC fast-charging. Well, that's the case unless you spend an extra $460 when you order your Porsche to bump the 400-volt DC recharge rate to 150 kW. Really? That should be standard on a car that starts at $152,250.

Which brings us to the other negative of the Taycan: price. A long-range Tesla Model S costs $79,900. The $99,000 Performance version of the Tesla sedan drops the 370-mile EPA range to 345 miles, but also improves the quoted zero-to-60-mph time from 3.7 seconds to 2.4. Even the top-spec, $186,350 Taycan Turbo S is slower than the Model S, at least according to the published number of 2.6 seconds. But keep in mind that Porsche is usually rather conservative about its performance numbers. Tesla and conservative aren't a combination Musk or his marketing team have been famous for. But that doesn't change the fact that the Taycan is a very expensive EV with a not-so-impressive range.

So, why should we care about the Taycan? Well, based upon my experience with another VW Group EV—the Audi e-tron—and speaking with colleagues who have driven the Taycan, the extra money spent on the Porsche does look to bring along some clear benefits over the Tesla. There's seemingly a level of engineering and polish in the Taycan that isn't found in the Tesla. My extended time in an Audi e-tron revealed a consistent driving range over a variety of uses. including trips at 80 mph on the highway. I'm told by a Tesla-owning friends that they don't experience the same consistency, with the battery range on their Model S not being particularly accurate. Porsche also talks about repeatable performance with the Taycan, even when the battery is below 50 percent charge. Of course, this would all need to be tested, but repeatable performance isn't something a Tesla is known to be capable of. And then there's the driving experience. Again, I have yet to drive a Taycan, but our initial first drive says it offers impressive, proper Porsche-like dynamics. I've never been overly impressed with the handling of a Tesla. Sure, a Model 3 in the right spec is good to drive, but it's not a car I pine to own.

Yet I still can't stop thinking about the price of the Taycan. Talking with a friend at a Midwest Porsche dealership, they've had many interested parties pass on the Taycan since pricing was released. In fact, I have a good friend who's a Porsche nut and he planned to pull the trigger until he saw the $150K+ starting point. If the Porsche had a 300-plus-mile range, I think the price would be more justifiable. Only the Turbo and Turbo S models are available at launch, as well, which may be hurting interest. It's clear lower-priced Taycan models are coming, hopefully with more impressive range. Hopefully.

So, the Taycan Turbo and Turbo S are clearly toys for the rich. If you're one who can afford the electric Porsche and aren't bothered by the limited range, make sure pass on the top-spec Turbo S. Its power advantage is simply an "overboost" of 80 horsepower for 2.5 seconds. Note that I can use the term overboost because of Porsche's stupid move to name a car "Turbo" without it actually carrying a turbocharger. Either way, I recommend sitting back and waiting for lower-spec Taycans to arrive and see where their performance, range, and price sit.

I have little doubt that the Germans will make significant strides in the EV world in the coming years, becoming a real headache for Musk and Tesla. Remember, this is round one for Porsche. We also need to see if the wider car-buying public actually wants EVs, but that's another conversation altogether. Until then, it'll be fun to see what future electric vehicles Porsche and the other German companies offer. I know Musk will be watching carefully.

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