The Taycan isn't just a new vehicle for Porsche. It's a brand-new powertrain platform and a fairly radical foray into electrification for a brand that's cherished for its heritage.
And yet executives are adamant that the Taycan, the brand's first full-electric vehicle and the vanguard of a broader push into EVs, will be as much a Porsche as everything that came before it.
As the Taycan nears its U.S. launch this year, the task for Porsche's marketing team is to get customers to agree.
In an email exchange, Porsche Cars North America marketing chief Pedro Mota, 52, addressed questions from Staff Reporter Urvaksh Karkaria about early customer interest in the Taycan and how the automaker plans to get loyalists accustomed to the guttural growls of a turbocharged flat-six to accept a nearly silent Porsche. Here are edited excerpts:
Q: How do you get the quintessential Porsche owner, the loyalist, to accept that an electric Porsche is still a Porsche?
A: Customers come to Porsche for an exceptional drive. Whether they choose a new-generation 911 or the refreshed Macan, they want to feel engaged behind the wheel and have fun. The Taycan will be no different. It will have the Porsche soul, but electrified. The car will be exciting to drive, with a low center of gravity, and it will corner, steer and brake like a true sports car.
The performance will be equally impressive, with a top speed of over 155 mph, producing 0 to 60 in less than 3.5 seconds. This performance will not be just once or twice but repeatable and consistent.
So while change can create uncertainty, Porsche enthusiasts should have peace of mind that whatever the powertrain, a Porsche will always be a Porsche. And for at least the next decade, we will offer three powertrains: optimized combustion engines, plug-in hybrid models and purely electric sports cars.
What challenges are there in marketing battery EVs — with the associated perceptions about range, etc. — to the performance-minded Porsche customer?
We would never come to market with a new car unless we were convinced it lives up to the Porsche crest. I think the biggest challenge for any performance EV is range anxiety. So we are laying the groundwork for a robust charging network. Together with Electrify America and our dealer network, Porsche Cars North America will provide a national infrastructure for DC fast charging.
The Taycan's 800-volt system means it will be able to charge faster than any EV currently on the market, adding 62 miles in four minutes. Taycan owners will receive three years of unlimited 30-minute charging at Electrify America stations included in the price of the car. And Electrify America will have more than 300 highway stations in 42 states and more than 180 sites in 17 metro areas, installed or under construction by July 1, followed immediately by a second phase of expansion beginning this summer.
In addition, all 191 U.S. Porsche dealerships will invest approximately $70 million to install DC fast chargers. Beyond that, we anticipate most customers will charge at home or at work, so we will also offer a Porsche-designed home charging system.
What does Porsche know about how well the consumer understands electric powertrains? What market intelligence is it building on?
We have seen unprecedented interest in the Taycan. More than 20,000 people around the world have raised their hands for our first fully electric sports car, without having seen or driven the final production car. In the U.S., we have more people registering their interest in the Taycan than in any other pre-release program we have had. More than half of the Taycan hand-raisers have never owned a Porsche.
For us, this not only reveals consumers' appetite for premium electric vehicles, but also indicates the market is ready to embrace e-mobility.
How does a lifestyle-oriented brand market a different kind of lifestyle — one that involves plugging in?
The Taycan is by no means a different lifestyle. It is completely consistent with the core of our brand: intelligent performance. Porsche is defined by sets of principles that include tradition and innovation, performance and everyday usability, design and functionality. The Taycan fits squarely in those fields.
The Taycan is the start of a new powertrain at Porsche for the sports car of the future. But what does not change is that we will offer a superb product and an equally superb experience.
As far as plugging in goes, our hope and expectation is that the network we are creating with Electrify America, our Porsche dealers and home charging means nobody will have to change their lifestyle. Instead, as a Taycan customer, you will soon have a wealth of charging options — with your garage serving as the closest "gas station" right outside your door.
The easiest way to sell customers on a modern EV is to allow them to drive it and experience the instant torque and regenerative braking. What's the plan to get people in the seat of a Taycan and future electric offerings?
Our U.S. dealer partners will be the first line of immersion for curious customers. But the value of the physical connection, especially in a digital world, is also why we invested $160 million in two U.S. Experience Centers, in Atlanta and Los Angeles. Both centers serve as track-based brand embassies where the public can indulge in everything Porsche.
Offering 90-minute drive experiences with a driving coach as co-pilot, the Porsche Experience Centers are the perfect setting to experience our product offering. And we anticipate the Taycan in due time will be part of that offering.