Porsche is planning an entry-level, two-wheel-drive version of the Taycan electric sedan. The new variant is aimed at Chinese consumers, and it’s unclear whether the model will come stateside.
“There will be a rear-wheel-drive model with a smaller battery to make it more accessible price-wise, especially for markets that don’t need 4wd — places like China, where weather conditions mean you don’t need it,” Porsche R&D chief Michael Steiner told CAR magazine.
Porsche spokesman Calvin Kim declined to confirm whether the two-wheel-drive model is destined for the U.S. but noted that “more Taycan variants are coming.”
A Taycan Cross Turismo wagon variant was scheduled to debut this fall, but the launch has been delayed until at least the first quarter of 2021 because of the new coronavirus.
Three Taycan variants are now available — the 4S, Turbo and Turbo S. The two-wheel variant is expected to be referred to simply as Taycan.
Porsche is one of the few automakers seeing success with an EV in the U.S., with about 350 Taycan sales through March, the company said. Global demand for the Taycan has outstripped Porsche’s expectations, forcing it to reportedly double annual output to 40,000.
Ready for the U.S.?
A lower-priced Taycan variant would help Porsche narrow the sales gap with premium-EV market leader Tesla.
Breaking into the sub-$100,000 range with the Taycan moves Porsche from a niche player to a solid competitor in the performance-EV market, said Sam Fiorani, vice president at AutoForecast Solutions.
“Dropping the all-wheel drive not only lightens the Taycan, but opens it up to buyers who aren’t tapping into the trust fund,” Fiorani said. “Porsche has a large group of fans just waiting for an ‘affordable’ Taycan, and they’ll break this market open.”
Even so, demand for a smaller-battery Taycan in the U.S. — where range anxiety is a major hurdle for EV adoption — remains unproven.
The two-wheel-drive Taycan’s range is expected to be even lower than the EPA-certified 203-mile range of the 4S. In comparison, the base Tesla Model S has a range of 391 miles.
A stripped-down Taycan is not likely to appeal to the Porsche customer, who puts a premium on performance, said Ed Kim, analyst with AutoPacific.
“A price-leader, lower-performance version of Taycan I don’t think fits well with Porsche’s goals for the U.S. market,” Kim said. “This is an affluent early-adopter buyer who isn’t looking for a bargain.”
While the current entry-level 4S model sells for $114,340, including a $1,350 shipping fee, it comes loaded with options. Starting next year, a basic version of the 4S will go on sale in the U.S. for about $104,000.