Porsche told the Financial Times that it will launch upgraded versions of its Taycan, often called the “Tesla killer.” It may even release some versions of the car that are less expensive. The base model costs $103,800. The high-end Turbo S has a price of $185,000. And Porsche has a limited network of charging stations, which is a major drawback. It will be impossible for Porsche to challenge Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) without substantial changes.
The Tesla Model S, the car comparable to the Taycan, has a base price of $74,990. The performance model has a base price of $94,990. Tesla has a network of almost 1,000 chargers in the United States. Reasonably, most Tesla owners can find charging stations along major roads coast to coast. Porsche buyers cannot.
Over time, Tesla will be faced with competition up and down its model line. Every large global car manufacturer needs to get into the electric car business. Tesla will deliver about 375,000 vehicles this year. While that is well behind industry leader Volkswagen’s over 10 million, almost all the VW cars are gasoline-powered.
Tesla’s lead could be its largest advantage. Yet, electric cars are still not the first choice of the great majority of car buyers. Tesla and its competition are actually fighting for a very modest part of the industry, for now.
Another point made by brand experts is that a Tesla is a Tesla. That seems a small reason to buy a car. However, studies show brand attractiveness and its relationship to sales have long been an advantage in almost every industry that sells branded products. Porsche knows that. Its brand helps it sell high-end cars driven by high-performance gasoline-based engines.
Tesla’s lead in the electric car market will be hard to overcome for these several reasons, even though a Porsche is a Porsche in the minds of luxury car buyers (who want gas engines).