It wasn’t a mistake when Porsche chose Niagara Falls to introduce its new Taycan all electric sports car. Niagara Falls has long been heralded as a powerful and sustainable renewable energy source and is flanked on both sides by two statues of Nikola Tesla that look in from both the US and Canada, according to the LA Times.
Plus, Niagara Falls is also the site where Tesla first tested his controversial AC electrical distribution system in the late 1800s.
For Porsche, the Taycan represents a billion dollar bet that’s just as bold. It aims to be the beginning of a long line of battery powered high-performance electric vehicles and sport utility vehicles for Porsche. It is also the most noteworthy challenger to Tesla that has emerged yet.
Porsche will be looking to the vehicle’s reception in California as a litmus test for how it will do across the US. California accounts for 25% of Porsche sales, so the state will be a good indicator as to whether or not the Taycan can win over Porsche’s legacy customers.
Things look good so far: the company says more than 20,000 Taycans have been ordered and it plans to produce 40,000 of them per year.
Performance-wise, the car is nothing short of a lightning bolt, going from 0 to 60 in 2.6 to 3 seconds, with a 240 mile range. There are two models of the vehicle, with base prices expected to start between $150,000 and $180,000.
Porsche is aiming to sell the vehicle to people that haven’t owned an electric vehicle before. It also looks to threaten the market of the Tesla Model S, a model than has seen its sales top out in the last quarter of 2018 and decline since the Model 3 has risen in popularity.
Porsche believes that drivers focused on performance are more likely to gravitate to its vehicle because of the track-worthy driving dynamics that the company has been perfecting since it started building race cars in the 1920s. Stefan Weckbach, the company’s vice president for electric-drive cars, calls it “the world’s first fully electric sports car” – certainly a backhanded jab at Tesla’s lineup.
Danny McKenna, owner of McKenna Porsche in Norwalk, said: “I really think Mr. Musk did a fine job of showing the [big auto companies] that this electric thing could happen. People wanted that Tesla parked in their driveway. Now, they’ll want that Porsche parked there.”
Soon, we will have objective analysis of the vehicle as well. Car & Driver, Road & Track and Motor Trend all plan to test the vehicle up against Tesla’s Model S and a number of other performance vehicles. The author of the LA Times article, who rode with a professional driver in the vehicle, says he predicts “thumbs up” from reviewers across the board.
And because Porsche has a legacy internal combustion engine business to fall back on, it doesn’t have to worry about making the Taycan a profit center. This obviously stands at odds with Tesla, who is forced to make its EVs try to drive the company’s bottom line – an endeavour that has hardly been successful thus far.
Jessica Caldwell, automotive marketing analyst at Edmunds said: “In terms of profits, this will not be the linchpin of their future. Now, what’s the trickle-down strategy? How do you materialize the Taycan into a larger business for yourself?”
Porsche says the Taycan will come in two models, the Turbo and the Turbo S. Despite not actually having a turbocharger, Porsche decided to keep the “Turbo” term for branding.
Weckbach said: “That was a big discussion internally. We decided it’s worth transferring the heritage of internal combustion engines to electric vehicles.”
The vehicle sports two permanent magnet motors that produce 625 hp and it has an “Overboost” mode that can power between 680 hp and 761 hp. Different from electric cars on the market now, the Taycan also has a two speed transmission that has a higher gear for highway driving. This higher gear boosts both efficiency and range.
Porsche is also redoing the way electric vehicles perform regenerative braking:
Also unusual, for now, is the way regenerative braking works. In electric cars, when the driver lifts her foot off the accelerator, the motors reverse to add more juice to the battery while aiding deceleration. This creates a halting feel in the accelerator pedal, and the car as a whole, that takes getting used to. To preserve a more traditional feel, Porsche’s regen system turns on only when the brake pedal is pressed.
The car will be recognized instantly for its classic Porsche look, and because the battery fits along the bottom of the car, designers could pencil in a flat hood with a “flyline” roof that angles towards the back. Seen from the street, the car is described by the reviewer as “aggressive” looking. We concur.
This “aggressive” look could be because its aerodynamics are even better than the 911, based on its coefficient drag factor of 0.22. The car’s rear spoiler will rise and fall depending on the drive mode setting the car is in and the front trunk is big enough to hold a carry-on bag. The rear trunk can handle two golf bags or six carry-ons.
Internally, the car sports digital technology that includes three screens and a curved instrument cluster directly in front of the driver’s eyes. After being produced, the cars head through leak and wind testing and are driven on rollers for 10 to 20 km indoors to ensure that the build is tight enough to handle bumpy roads.
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The introduction of the Taycan has certainly caught the attention of Elon Musk, who took the time on Thursday to uncharacteristically take a jab at Porsche for continuing to use the “Turbo” terminology on the Taycan.
Um @Porsche, this word Turbo does not mean what you think it does
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 5, 2019
Musk was them promptly ridiculed by, well, what appeared to be everyone on social media, who reminded him that people in glass EV houses shouldn’t be throwing stones.
Um @elonmusk, this word Autopilot does not mean what you think it does
— Jalopnik (@Jalopnik) September 5, 2019
— Diogenes (@WallStCynic) September 6, 2019
— Dennis (@ClarkDennisM) September 5, 2019
— HOARY MARMOT, STOCK TRADER EXTRAORDINAIRE (@mydoghasagun) September 5, 2019
One helpful Twitter user even made a chart to get his/her point across:
Öhm elon ? What ? pic.twitter.com/tJgPc0dwCa
— J Savolainen (@Savolainen_J) September 5, 2019
Musk followed up with a Tweet letting the world know that the Model S would now coincidentally be at the Nurburgring next week. Surely it has nothing to do with the Taycan release.
Model S on Nürburgring next week
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 5, 2019
Regardless, it is a pretty safe bet that Porsche owners won’t be greeted with screens like this when trying to operate their new luxury EVs:
Should I be worried? pic.twitter.com/SD8s7mMVwE
— Jay in Shanghai (@JayinShanghai) September 6, 2019
We wonder how long before Elon Musk (wearing a corset and fake mustache) is spotted driving a Taycan around town.