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Luxury, comfort & more: Porsche’s battery-powered beast Taycan to take on its iconic 911 sports car

The Porsche Taycan is roughly priced at $90,000.

Bloomberg|
Last Updated: Jul 30, 2019, 05.45 PM IST
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Success of the Taycan is critical for parent company Volkswagen AG to boost the appeal of electric cars as it prepares for a rollout of battery-powered vehicles across all price ranges.
By Christoph Rauwald

Porsche’s iconic 911 sports car, which shaped the German brand’s luxurious appeal for decades, may soon be eclipsed by the battery-powered Taycan in terms of deliveries.

Just over a month before its official unveiling in September, Porsche has already amassed deposits for nearly 30,000 Taycans, and the early haul supports plans to lift annual production of the brand’s first all-electric model to 40,000 vehicles, Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst said Monday in a note.

With Porsche delivering 35,600 911s last year, the Taycan -- to be priced at roughly $90,000 -- could zoom past the combustion-era hero to define the brand for the next generation.

Success of the Taycan is critical for parent company Volkswagen AG to boost the appeal of electric cars as it prepares for a rollout of battery-powered vehicles across all price ranges. The Taycan’s arrival could also pose a fresh challenge to Tesla Inc.’s Model S, a key vehicle for Elon Musk’s effort to make the electric-car leader profitable.

Tesla hasn’t detailed plans to overhaul its successful Model S luxury sedan that’s been on sale since 2012, betting on the Model 3 to target mass-market buyers instead. While sales have risen, the car’s lower returns have seen Tesla’s losses accelerate to cast fresh doubt on whether building and selling electric cars can be a sustainably profitable business.

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Tesla’s bid to expand outside the U.S. “is essentially a down-market push that will exacerbate eroding gross margin,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Kevin Tynan said in a note. The California-based firm is at risk of trading in a strong domestic position “to scrap with local rivals in foreign markets.”

Porsche has taken a page from Tesla’s playbook. Customers can register as a prospective Taycan buyer by placing a 2,500-euro deposit, which gets deducted from the final purchase price. To help drive uptake, Porsche is installing fast chargers at dealerships in the U.S. and Europe that will load the Taycan’s battery with enough power to drive as far as 100 kilometers (62 miles) in four minutes. The car’s total range on a single charge stands at 500 kilometers.

Porsche set an initial production target of 20,000 vehicles per year, based on a two-shift system, but that can be expanded if needed, production chief Albrecht Reimold told reporters last year.

The company has been rapidly building up capacity in recent months. For the 1,500 new hires needed to produce the Taycan, Porsche said Monday that it has recruited nearly 1,000 so far after receiving some 32,000 applications. The training process for the electric-car assembly lasts as long as six months.

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