Tuesday, February 11, 2020

"Porsche Taycan Turbo S vs. Tesla Model S Performance: Electric Flattery" (TSLA; PAH3:GR)

From Car and Driver, February 7:

After eight uncontested years, Tesla's Model S finally has a rival in the 2020 Porsche Taycan.
We didn't set out to dangle the competition under Tesla's nose. The plan was merely to line up a Tesla Model S against a Porsche Taycan—the Tesla's first true challenger—to see if there's a new EV front-runner. But if you want to experience the most powerful Supercharger in the greater Los Angeles area, you're going to find yourself at SpaceX's Hawthorne headquarters, which is also home to Tesla's design studio.

As we set up the Model S for a max-charging session, Tesla employees mobbed the Taycan. Sizing it up on a granular level, they were visibly impressed by the build quality on the preproduction Porsche and genuinely excited about a new EV contender. Their level of open-mindedness—far exceeding what we've come to expect from Tesla owners and fanatics—is no doubt one of Tesla's strengths.

It's easy to forget just how open-minded they were when creating the Model S, which launched in 2012. At the time, the prevailing approach to electric vehicles involved automakers taking one of their smallest and cheapest cars and stuffing it with a battery good for maybe 100 miles of range. With rare exception, this bare-minimum effort to meet regulatory mandates for zero-emission vehicles resembled a toddler pouting when faced with new rules. Those obstinate automakers were right about one thing, though: The winning formula was definitely not an expensive economy car with pathetic range and a giant battery taking up much of the cargo space.
What the world really wanted was the approach Tesla took, exemplified by the Model S, its first car built completely in-house. A large, attractive, and expensive luxury car with a massive battery pack enabling a 265-mile EPA range. At the time, that alone was enough to be outrageous.

But Tesla went even further, rethinking details large and small. For example, the Model S has no ignition switch; employs an automatic secondary latch for the front trunk, eliminating the usual fumbling for the release; uses motorized door handles that extend to greet the driver; and features a giant 17.0-inch center touchscreen. Shortly after the Tesla's launch, General Motors reportedly compiled a lengthy dossier outlining the litany of its internal requirements that the Model S violated.
Tesla's ability to update the entirety of its software via wireless downloads is something other automakers are still enviously racing to match, as is its Autopilot suite of driver-assist features, which came out a few years later. Part of Tesla's mystique has become continual change, and the Model S has seen plenty. Its battery pack has grown by 15 percent, and its range even more, to an EPA-rated 373 miles on today's Long Range model. The sprint to 60 mph has been lopped nearly in half, and rear-facing third-row seats have come and gone, as have various models with smaller battery packs. Meanwhile, the price of the top-performing variant started at $105,400, rose to as high as $136,200, and is now back down to $101,190, which once again includes free use of Tesla's expansive Supercharger network.

Thanks to the Model 3, which follows the Model S blueprint at a lower price point, Tesla is on the cusp of selling its millionth vehicle despite producing only four models thus far, none of which has yet to see a second generation. As much as Tesla has achieved, though, its most inconceivably difficult accomplishment is probably this: causing every other automaker to change course.
Which brings us to the Porsche Taycan, clearly a response to the Model S and that car's first real competitor. Molded into a swoopy and similarly sized four-door, packing a sufficiently large battery, and churning out 750 combined horsepower from its front and rear electric motors in the top model, the Taycan impressed us from the start. Then the bad news started trickling out: first, the absurdly high $186,350 starting price for the Turbo S, followed shortly by the absurdly low EPA range figure of 192 miles....