Volkswagen has openly said before that they see Tesla has their main competitor in the transition to electric vehicles and now a Porsche executive adds that they respect the company, especially since they are apparently stealing some customers away.
There’s no doubt that the Model S disrupted the large luxury sedan segment.
Several vehicles in the segment have seen their sales drop since Tesla entered the market.
When asked about Tesla’s impact, Porsche North America CEO Klaus Zellmer told CNBC in an interview this week:
“We have lots of respect for Tesla – and, yes, I’m sure there are some Porsche customers, that in terms of connectivity, digital stuff in the car and electric battery in the vehicles, didn’t find the car that they wanted with Porsche so they bought somewhere else,”
That’s not surprising since the only electric vehicles that Porsche currently offers are plug-in hybrids with very limited electric range.
But they are changing that with the upcoming all-electric Mission E, which is expected to hit the market in 2019.
Not long ago, Porsche claimed that all-electric powertrains didn’t offer enough performance to reach the level that their customers expect from the premium German brand, but it sounds like Tesla made them change their minds.
Now they plan for 50% of their production to be electric by 2023, which is the most aggressive timeline of any Volkswagen brand so far, and they are using Tesla vehicles to benchmark the Mission E.
When considering that and the fact that they are starting to deploy their own network of fast-charging stations, they really seem to be taking a page from Tesla’s playbook and to represent a good example of Elon Musk’s original plan for Tesla, which was to convince other automakers to accelerate their electrification effort.
I think EV enthusiasts should be looking forward to the Mission E because Porsche’s head seems to be in the right place to bring this vehicle to market and hopefully, it will influence the electrification plans of Volkswagen’s other brands.