Porsche did not design or engineer its all-new 2020 Taycan to compete with the Tesla Model S, which has been the EV benchmark since its introduction in 2012. However, the arrival of the German sports sedan leaves the two in the same competitive arena.
The Porsche Taycan and the Tesla Model S are a pair of powerful premium electric sedans, which in their top trims carry six-figure price tags and target affluent customers. As comparisons will be inevitable, we’ve taken a closer look at five areas where the Tesla falls short of its daunting new challenger.
The Taycan is more than just a pretty face; it’s advanced motor technology and two-speed gearbox improve acceleration and high-speed efficiency. (Photo: Porsche)
1. The Taycan has more advanced motor technology.
The Tesla Model S is fitted with an AC induction motor, which is 132-year-old technology. (Tesla’s “Project Raven,” disclosed this past spring, hints that the automaker may upgrade the Model S with permanent magnet reluctance motors in the near future.) The Porsche Taycan arrives with dual permanently excited synchronous motors with innovative hairpin wiring, motors that are lighter, smaller, and more efficient than their predecessors.
Unlike traditional motors, which use round copper wires wrapped around the coil, Porsche uses rectangular wires that are able to be packed more densely – up to 70 percent density, instead of 45 percent – to further increase power output and torque. Porsche also uses a unique two-speed gearbox on the rear axle, which improves acceleration and improves efficiency at high speeds, technology that the Tesla Model S cannot match.
Perhaps Porsche should place a “WARNING: High Voltage” sticker on the fender above the charge port. (Photo: Porsche)
2. The Taycan uses a high performance 800-volt system for faster charging.
Tesla’s Model S uses a 400-volt system, which accepts a 480-volt DC fast charging at the company’s Supercharger stations with a maximum charging power (peak) of 150 kWh. It currently takes about 40 minutes to deliver an 80% state-of-charge to the Tesla’s 100-kWh battery. The Porsche Taycan is the first production vehicle with an 800-volt system that accepts 800-volt DC fast charging with a maximum charging power (peak) of 270 kWh. That said, it takes only about 22 minutes to deliver an 80-percent charge to the Porsche’s 93-kWh battery – in some cases twice as fast as the Tesla.
The Taycan’s interior is fit for a luxury sedan. By comparison, the minimalism of the Model S seems inexpensive and dated. (Photo: Porsche)
3. The Porsche’s interior justifies a higher price tag.
Tesla deliberately designs minimalist interiors. The Model S has a digital instrument cluster, a 17-inch tablet on its center console, and window switchgear borrowed from Mercedes-Benz on the doors. While Tesla’s futuristic quotient is high – assuming this is what buyers want in “the future” – luxury appointments such as natural leathers, finished woods, and premium trims are all but absent. The interior of the Taycan is advanced, with multiple flat panels, yet it doesn’t disappoint those seeking premium luxury. High-end materials adorn every inch of the stylish, world-class, cabin. And of course, Porsche allows its discerning customers the ability to customize just about everything about it.
Porsche builds great cars, according to quality rankings from J.D. Power. (Photo: Porsche)
4. Porsche consistently delivers better build quality and reliability than Tesla.
Tesla has fallen to near bottom of Consumer Reports magazine’s auto reliability survey rankings. The independent publication no longer recommends the Tesla Model 3, and the Tesla Model X is on the magazine’s latest “10 Least Reliable Car” list. In sharp contrast, Porsche is consistently at the top in most critical J.D. Power studies. In the 2019 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), released in February, Porsche is ranked second behind only Lexus. In J.D. Power’s 2019 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, which was released in July, Porsche ranked at the top of the industry. And, in the 2019 J.D. Power Resale Value Awards, the Porsche Panamera took the top ranking.
Porsche has a robust dealer network, while Tesla can’t even legally sell its cars in some states. (Photo: Porsche)
5. Porsche has an established sales and repair network.
Tesla has rejected a traditional third-party dealer network, instead choosing to sell its vehicles either online or through company-owned boutique gallery stores. As rigorous franchise laws prevent Tesla from setting up retail locations in 26 states, nearly half the country is left without a physical Tesla sales outlet.
Porsche, on the other hand, has 190 third-party dealerships, in all but a handful of states. While all of Porsche’s dealerships are able to service and repair the Taycan, Tesla forces its customers to visit one of its “Service Centers” for maintenance – they exist in just 25 states – or uses one of its mobile service facilities.