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SPEIGEL ONLINE
Electric Dreams
Porsche's Quest to Make Eco-Friendly Sports Cars
Porsche is trying to reinvent itself in the wake of Germany's diesel-emissions scandal by turning itself into an environmentally friendly sports-car company. It's a billion-euro bet with enormous possibilities -- and enormous risk.

By Frank Dohmen and Simon Hage
Photo Gallery: Porsche Attempts a New StartPhotos
Porsche

February 27, 2019
The Porsche of the future is still so secret that it's not allowed off the company's premises without an elaborate disguise. Two fake exhaust pipes stick out the rear, while a green pollution badge adorns the windshield. It's all an act to mislead competitors. Under the hood, there's neither a combustion engine nor an injection system. Instead, there are two electric motors and a heavy battery.

So far, it's just a test vehicle inconspicuously parked in front of Porsche's development center in Weissach, near Stuttgart. Porsche, however, is planning to unveil its first electric car at the end of 2019, and revamp its brand from the ground up.

Even for the engineers responsible for its roll-out, the new e-model is a culture shock. Ever since the first sports car hit the pavement 70 years ago, the name Porsche has stood for flashy combustion engines that roar when drivers hit the gas. Poor emission values and high fuel consumption were practically part of the brand's DNA. But the company's new model, the Taycan, is emissions-free -- and it's as quiet as a toy car.

For Porsche, this means it's no longer competing with the likes of Ferrari, Maserati, BMW or Mercedes. It's now in a direct contest with Tesla, the pioneering electric-car company from California. "Our goal is to be a technological trailblazer," says Porsche CEO Oliver Blume.

The End of an Era

Blume's plans are more ambitious than those of other German automobile manufacturers. By 2025, he wants at least half of the cars Porsche sells to be electric. Five years later, according to the company's own forecasts, Porsche will hardly have any vehicles on its assembly line with conventional combustion engines.

In late 2018, the company's supervisory board resolved to outfit Porsche's best-selling car with an electric motor within the next few years. The new version of the Macan, a compact off-road vehicle, will soon be fully electric. For the petrol-powered model, there will be only an update. After that, the era of the gas-guzzler will gradually come to an end.

It's a billion-euro bet with enormous possibilities -- and enormous risk. If Blume's plan works out, Porsche could become an ecologically oriented sports-car company, a role model for the entire German automobile industry. It would be proof that the industry has learned its lesson after the diesel scandal -- in which Porsche's parent-company, the Volkswagen Group, was found to have tricked emissions tests to make its vehicles seem more environmentally friendly than they really were -- and that it has not entirely slept through the transition to electric mobility.

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The problem, however, is that Porsche's offensive comes at a time of great uncertainty. Nobody knows whether the company will be able to sell enough of its new e-cars. The brand has many loyal fans with a penchant for combustion engines. Even one of Porsche's brand ambassadors, Walter Röhrl, an ex-rally driver, has said e-mobility is the "wrong track."

Porsche's Dirty Past

Meanwhile, demand in the world's two largest automotive markets, the United States and China, is slowing, and disputes are further weighing on business. If U.S. President Donald Trump makes good on his threats to impose punitive import tariffs on foreign cars, Porsche would be more adversely affected than other German manufacturers. The sports-car maker sells nearly a quarter of its vehicles in America, yet has none of its production facilities there. The result would be a sharp drop in profits.

Then there's the fact that Porsche, in its quest toward a clean future, is regularly confronted with its dirty past.

At the end of January, the carmaker filed self-indictments with Germany's Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) and the U.S. environmental authorities. The reason: Porsche's iconic 911 sports car was emitting more CO2 than the company had previously disclosed. And it wasn't just older models: its 2016 and 2017 models were affected as well. The authorities are now investigating whether Porsche's failure to disclose was a mere oversight -- or possibly Germany's next exhaust scandal. The Public Prosecutor's Office in Stuttgart has initiated a so-called inspection process. Porsche has added that it's continuing its own internal investigations.

Porsche is also still under pressure for its role in Germany's "Dieselgate" scandal. Three company employees are under investigation on suspicion of fraud and false advertising. And the case against them is getting stronger, sources familiar with the investigations say. The defendants have yet to be granted access to the evidence against them, but it is conceivable that charges will be filed against them in 2019, the sources add.

To this day, Porsche rejects any blame for the German diesel scandal. The company has remained firm on its assertion that it didn't build the motors in question itself, but rather bought them from its sister brand Audi. Porsche has even considered pursuing financial compensation from Audi to the tune of 200 million euros ($227 million).

'Not Future-Proof'

At first, Porsche cooperated with the prosecutor's office. Negotiations over a fine began, but then in January, Porsche broke off the talks. The company's lawyers told investigators the company had a different view of things. Meanwhile, the Public Prosecutor's Office has initiated non-compliance proceedings against Porsche. The company could now face a fine of around a half-billion euros.

The diesel scandal is becoming a financial risk for Porsche. It's also damaging for the company's profile. "The brand's image is our lifeblood," Wolfgang Porsche, the supervisory-board chairman and grandson of the company's founder, once said at the Geneva Motor Show. This is all the more true if the manufacturer wants to win over customers with clean electric motors. Porsche will only become a "technological trailblazer" when it can put Dieselgate behind it once and for all.

The article you are reading originally appeared in German in issue 9/2019 (February 23rd, 2019) of DER SPIEGEL.

Porsche could have prevented that disaster if it had only listened to its then CEO, Wendelin Wiedeking. Shortly after the turn of the millennium, he argued that diesel-powered vehicles were not the future of mobility. "Diesel engines," he said, "are not, in our eyes, a viable propulsion technology for the future."

Wiedeking was not only bothered by the fact that most of diesel's avowed fans were in Europe, and not in other major auto markets like the U.S. or Japan. He also found it problematic that, while diesel exhaust contained less CO2, it had other poisonous components such as nitrogen oxides. Wiedeking described diesel exhaust as "toxic." From his point of view, diesel was only appropriate for the tractors Porsche produced back in the 1950s and '60s.

But within the Volkswagen Group, the former Porsche CEO was alone in his assertions. The concern's patriarch, Ferdinand Piëch, put all his weight behind a diesel-powered Porsche in order to expand the technology to all of the group's other brands. Even Porsche's sales division had sensed a large business opportunity, since the technology dovetailed so well with a product category the company had only recently begun to offer: the SUV.

Dubious Technology

Weighing in at 2.3 tons, the Porsche Cayenne SUV was significantly heavier than other Porsche models. Its fuel economy wasn't great, either: It burned between 13 and 15 liters per 100 kilometers (between 15.7 and 18.1 MPG). With its diesel version, Porsche could offer prospective buyers an economical and supposedly environmentally friendly alternative. It consumed only about 9 liters of fuel, allowing customers, so the company's promise went, to drive a massive off-road vehicle with a clear conscience.

Practically speaking, Porsche didn't have to invest much in creating the car because the technology was already available. The engine-makers and software engineers at its sister company, Audi, had developed novel diesel motors allegedly capable of turning the heavy Q7 and Q5 models into fuel-efficient, low-emission vehicles.

Even Wiedeking couldn't push back against these machines, celebrated as they were throughout the entire VW Group as marvels of innovation. The first Porsche Cayenne with a diesel engine rolled off the assembly line in 2009. The smaller Macan followed a few years later. Both were outfitted with motors from Audi -- and were full of dubious technology.

Mandatory exhaust scrubbers -- devices that remove particulates or gasses from exhaust -- were slowed or completely switched off under normal driving conditions. Only during official inspections were the vehicles' emissions within the legal limits.

That Special Porsche Flair

But the pitfalls of diesel technology didn't seem to interest anyone at Porsche at first. The success drowned out the critics. Both SUVs became sales hits and soon accounted for a majority of the company's turnover. The number of diesel-powered vehicles in Porsche's global fleet increased from 0 to 16 percent within just a few years. In Germany, it increased to as much as 40 percent.

It was no coincidence the diesel engines were so successful. From a technical perspective, the engineers had pulled off a coup. They had given the Macan and Cayenne vehicles -- in fact identical in construction to the Audi Q5 and Q7 -- Porsche flair. But legally and morally speaking, the additional functionalities were more than questionable.


DER SPIEGEL
Witnesses testified that so-called "emotionalization packages" were developed for the Porsche SUVs. These included features designed to convince customers to spend a few thousand euros more on an SUV from Porsche rather than one from Audi. These included some harmless gimmicks, such as the typical roaring Porsche sound, as well as a sporty and dynamic driving experience and fast acceleration. These extras were made possible by a further reduction in exhaust scrubbing, accomplished with the help of dubious cut-off devices and control programs.

Witnesses have said in questioning that Porsche managers knew at the time that these interventions were problematic. Porsche, for its part, denies this: Spokespeople argue the company commissioned Audi to deliver the corresponding functionalities and expected them to do so in accordance with the law. The Stuttgart-based carmaker claims it didn't learn about the manipulations until the end of 2015.

Shifting the Blame

Investigators say Porsche's managers should have acted then at the very latest. After the diesel scandal was discovered in the U.S., the American authorities informed Porsche that they had discovered the manipulation software. VW, Audi and Porsche admitted later that they had installed illegal functions.

From the point of view of the prosecutors, Porsche's mistake was in continuing to sell vehicles with defeat devices outside the U.S. And they did so, according to sources in legal circles, even though managers must have known which models contained the illegal software in the rest of the world. Porsche denies any misconduct: "Porsche AG assumes that it has comprehensively fulfilled its supervisory duty in the past."

Lawyers involved in the case against Porsche find it questionable that the automaker places all the blame on Audi. After all, overall responsibility for a vehicle lies with the manufacturer, regardless of whether the fraudulent software came from Audi or not.

Porsche had promised to get to the bottom of things. Internally, measurement programs began in late 2015 under the codename "Charlie." Test drivers navigated the Cayenne and Macan models through the streets of Stuttgart. They wanted to prove that the vehicles were in accordance with limit values for nitrogen oxides under normal driving circumstances, too. Yet try as the drivers might, those values were exceeded even in the best conditions, sometimes by a factor of two.

Porsche still denied any manipulations in June 2017, when DER SPIEGEL demonstrated in an elaborate test that the newest Cayenne -- which bore the Euro 6 emissions standard -- had also been equipped with an illegal cut-off device. "We have no explanation for these readings," the company said.

Assuming Responsibility

Transportation and investigative authorities saw things differently. In July 2017, the German Transportation Ministry imposed a registration ban on all Porsche Cayennes with 3-liter motors. The KBA ordered a recall for thousands of diesel-powered Porsches. The public prosecutor's offices in Stuttgart and Munich conducted searches of Porsche's headquarters and other buildings. The former head of powertrain development, Jörg K., was put into pre-trial detention for a period. The suspects insist they are innocent and dismiss all accusations.

Porsche is still sticking to its uncompromising line of defense, though lately the company's official line has been a bit more conciliatory. Blume, the CEO, has at least said Porsche does have some moral responsibility. "Of course, Porsche assumes responsibility for its vehicles vis-à-vis its customers," he says, "regardless of whether Porsche produced these engines or not." He adds the company will continue to cooperate with the Public Prosecutor's Office in Stuttgart.

Strategically speaking, Blume has been on the offensive for quite some time. In fall of 2018, the manager announced that Porsche was abandoning its diesel pursuits. Since then, the company hasn't built a single vehicle with a diesel engine. The goal is now to "sharpen the core brand and concentrate even more heavily on electric mobility," Blume says.

In the coming years, Porsche will invest 6 billion euros in e-mobility. The company has hired 1,500 new people for its Taycan project alone. A new production facility with five different buildings is being constructed at its headquarters in the Stuttgart district of Zuffenhausen. It was important to Porsche's works council, the body that represents the interests of employees, as well that the company "not become a museum in its own hometown."

The new electric Macan will be produced in Germany, too. Starting next year, the plan is for the compact off-road vehicle to be built at the Porsche plant in Leipzig. Modern battery technology should make it possible for the electric SUV to have the same range as today's combustion engine. It is set to go on sale in 2022.

An Emissions-Free Future

Blume feels validated by positive feedback from Porsche's customers. For the Taycan, some 20,000 prospective buyers have already put down deposits of 2,500 euros each.

In the first few years after its rollout, however, the futuristic technology won't be very profitable. Electric SUVs are more expensive to produce than conventional ones, and according to Porsche's own estimates, the company will rack up additional costs of around 8,000 to 10,000 euros per vehicle. With the Taycan, according to internal prognoses, Porsche will only manage to cover its costs.

This doesn't scare Blume, though. "The material costs are a huge additional burden," the Porsche manager says, "but we still want to maintain our high returns." He hopes that as batteries grow more ubiquitous and costs fall, Porsche's profits will rise in the long-run. Even the Cross Turismo, a Taycan spin-off set to go into production in 2020, is expected to yield double-digit returns.

Blume doesn't want to make the same mistakes that Germany's other industrial sectors, from photography to TV and mobile phones, have made in recent decades. Because they all saw investments in the future as too risky, they clung to their core businesses until the very end.

Blume has a new slogan for Porsche: "We want to drive into the future emissions-free." He's even a proponent of Volkswagen ultimately manufacturing its own battery cells, a position that is not uncontroversial within the company. But Blume's message has been well received by investors, who have already begun to dream of the VW subsidiary one day going public.

Technically speaking, Porsche's electric vehicles are perfectly capable of keeping up with conventional, combustion engine-driven ones. In fact, an e-Porsche accelerates faster than most gas-powered vehicles: from 0 to 100 in less than three seconds. With those capabilities, it can leave the competition in the dust.
http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/porsche-s-quest-to-make-eco-friendly-sports-cars-a-1255149.html#ref=rss
 

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Discussion Starter #2
BLOOMBERG
Porsche’s Battery-Powered Taycan on Track to Overtake 911
By
Christoph Rauwald
July 29, 2019
  • Taycan production could surge to 40,000 a year, beating 911
  • Porsche model is key for Volkswagen’s electric-car shift
Porsche’s Taycan electric automobile

Porsche’s Taycan electric automobile
Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg

Porsche’s iconic 911 sports car, which shaped the German brand’s luxurious appeal for decades, may soon be eclipsed by the battery-powered Taycan in terms of deliveries.

Just over a month before its official unveiling in September, Porsche has already amassed deposits for nearly 30,000 Taycans, and the early haul supports plans to lift annual production of the brand’s first all-electric model to 40,000 vehicles, Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst said Monday in a note.
With Porsche delivering 35,600 911s last year, the Taycan -- to be priced at roughly $90,000 -- could zoom past the combustion-era hero to define the brand for the next generation.

Success of the Taycan is critical for parent company Volkswagen AG to boost the appeal of electric cars as it prepares for a rollout of battery-powered vehicles across all price ranges. The Taycan’s arrival could also pose a fresh challenge to Tesla Inc.’s Model S, a key vehicle for Elon Musk’s effort to make the electric-car leader profitable.

Tesla hasn’t detailed plans to overhaul its successful Model S luxury sedan that’s been on sale since 2012, betting on the Model 3 to target mass-market buyers instead. While sales have risen, the car’s lower returns have seen Tesla’s losses accelerate to cast fresh doubt on whether building and selling electric cars can be a sustainably profitable business.
Tesla’s bid to expand outside the U.S. “is essentially a down-market push that will exacerbate eroding gross margin,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Kevin Tynan said in a note. The California-based firm is at risk of trading in a strong domestic position “to scrap with local rivals in foreign markets.”
Porsche has taken a page from Tesla’s playbook. Customers can register as a prospective Taycan buyer by placing a 2,500-euro deposit, which gets deducted from the final purchase price. To help drive uptake, Porsche is installing fast chargers at dealerships in the U.S. and Europe that will load the Taycan’s battery with enough power to drive as far as 100 kilometers (62 miles) in four minutes. The car’s total range on a single charge stands at 500 kilometers.
Opening Day Of The 89th Geneva International Motor Show

Porsche 911 Carrera
Photographer: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg
Porsche set an initial production target of 20,000 vehicles per year, based on a two-shift system, but that can be expanded if needed, production chief Albrecht Reimold told reporters last year.
The company has been rapidly building up capacity in recent months. For the 1,500 new hires needed to produce the Taycan, Porsche said Monday that it has recruited nearly 1,000 so far after receiving some 32,000 applications. The training process for the electric-car assembly lasts as long as six months
 

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I rally hope the Taycan looks like the concept car. The mules they've had running around for the last few months have me worried they're going to look more like a Panamera, and less like the concept... Not that the Panamera is a bad looking car, but the Taycan concept is much better looking.

-Jamie.
 

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I rally hope the Taycan looks like the concept car. The mules they've had running around for the last few months have me worried they're going to look more like a Panamera, and less like the concept... Not that the Panamera is a bad looking car, but the Taycan concept is much better looking.

-Jamie.
I’d agree..., but if you look at the primary difference between the concept and the cars that are running around, its the wheel trim in body colour that makes the difference in my view.. also all the mules are in dark colours anyway... still hopeful
 

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Quite a handsome car in my view.

The turbines, solar panels, people running up mountains, and a supernova explosion, made me want to eat a steak.
 

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uggg at a crazy price point!
The Taycan Turbo is about the same price as the Panamera Turbo, and the Taycan Turbo S is about the same price as the Panamera Turbo S. I believe the Panamera's have higher top speeds, but the Taycan has faster acceleration and more horsepower (and of course, is newer, full electric, etc). With that in mind, I'm not surprised at the pricing at all. This car clearly competes with the Panamera (four-door coupe's that look very similar), so they aren't going to undercut themselves (and this is classic Porsche-style pricing).

Personally I wouldn't buy either of them at that price though. My local Porsche dealer had two Panamera Turbo S's last time I went for $220K and $230K! I was absolutely stunned that anyone would pay that for the Panamera, but it has I guess it has a market! I'm only really interested in sports cars though that can hold their own on track with little compromise, so I guess I'm biased...

Thanks!

Z.
 

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I like the look of the Taycan. For my money though, I'd rather wait for the "C4S" variety that will hopefully trade some of that performance for better range. Ideally I'd like to reasonably expect to get 350+ miles on a charge.

On the other hand, I'm not sure I'd want an electric car as my "fun car". Hybrid, maybe (I see you gen 2 Sport Series), but to me, an all electric vehicle would more likely be on DD duty, and for DD duty I want something that can also fit a lot of stuff, and on occasion people, and that brings me back to Bollinger or Rivian...

-Jamie.
 

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I like the look of the Taycan. For my money though, I'd rather wait for the "C4S" variety that will hopefully trade some of that performance for better range. Ideally I'd like to reasonably expect to get 350+ miles on a charge.

On the other hand, I'm not sure I'd want an electric car as my "fun car". Hybrid, maybe (I see you gen 2 Sport Series), but to me, an all electric vehicle would more likely be on DD duty, and for DD duty I want something that can also fit a lot of stuff, and on occasion people, and that brings me back to Bollinger or Rivian...

-Jamie.
agree Jamie.. am not sure these things are going to be that much fun in the near term... practical yes, so therefore to me its more important to have reasonable performance, but not at this level, but bigger lugging ability and greater range....

i have been really looking forward to the taycan, but i think at the price level they're asking i would pass... perhaps if the C4s version as you say gives a better combination it might be worthwhile...
 

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Ideally I'd like to reasonably expect to get 350+ miles on a charge.
350+ miles as things stand just isn't going to happen, especially not a 'reasonable' speeds on any EV currently or even near future. Well not unless someone comes up with a 3000kg one rather than merely 2200...
 

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I definitely will test drive the Taycan. Should be apparent right away if it is worth the dough.

More excited about the Rivian trucks to be honest. At least on paper, they have really great features for a daily/family adventure vehicle. BUT, as I understand, many of the engineering folks defected from McLaren! Can't have a daily going back to the dealer every few weeks for service campaigns. Just won't work.
 

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The Taycan Turbo is about the same price as the Panamera Turbo, and the Taycan Turbo S is about the same price as the Panamera Turbo S. I believe the Panamera's have higher top speeds, but the Taycan has faster acceleration and more horsepower (and of course, is newer, full electric, etc). With that in mind, I'm not surprised at the pricing at all. This car clearly competes with the Panamera (four-door coupe's that look very similar), so they aren't going to undercut themselves (and this is classic Porsche-style pricing).

Personally I wouldn't buy either of them at that price though. My local Porsche dealer had two Panamera Turbo S's last time I went for $220K and $230K! I was absolutely stunned that anyone would pay that for the Panamera, but it has I guess it has a market! I'm only really interested in sports cars though that can hold their own on track with little compromise, so I guess I'm biased...

Thanks!

Z.
still crazy price point!
I just don't see the value compared to M and AMG.
 

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still crazy price point!
I just don't see the value compared to M and AMG.
I agree the price is crazy, but the fit, finish and engineering in a Porsche is dramatically better than M and AMG. I have a Macan Turbo PP and an M3 right now, and the Turbo PP is significantly better in terms of finish. The quality and feel is much higher throughout, but it did cost a lot more than the M3 of course.

In general Porsche's driving dynamics are way better than either M or AMG (when comparing equivalent style cars), and the entire buying and dealer experience is very different too - Porsche feels exclusive from start to finish, and throughout ownership - BMW and Mercedes feel like you're just buying a higher end Toyota (sales tactics, attitude, dealer experience, etc), which makes sense since BMW and Mercedes sell much more affordable cars in general, and even if you're buying their most expensive car, you still deal with the same sales and service teams that are working with the entry level cars. Thus they tend to be pushier, and deal with you using stereotypical car buying tactics.

Porsche on the other hand are extremely low pressure (from my experiences), and even their dealerships feel exclusive when you walk in. Unfortunately it gives them an air of arrogance, but I prefer it to a pushy salesperson. Also, Porsche's are a lot more exclusive on the street, which many people value.

I think a lot of people are happy to pay the extra for the entire experience, and attention to detail, and the Porsche "DNA" which ensures almost all their cars have the performance-oriented driving dynamics (not sure about the Cayenne though as I haven't driven one, and don't really like them - or any full size SUV for that matter).

Thanks!

Z.
 

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I agree the price is crazy, but the fit, finish and engineering in a Porsche is dramatically better than M and AMG. I have a Macan Turbo PP and an M3 right now, and the Turbo PP is significantly better in terms of finish. The quality and feel is much higher throughout, but it did cost a lot more than the M3 of course.

In general Porsche's driving dynamics are way better than either M or AMG (when comparing equivalent style cars), and the entire buying and dealer experience is very different too - Porsche feels exclusive from start to finish, and throughout ownership - BMW and Mercedes feel like you're just buying a higher end Toyota (sales tactics, attitude, dealer experience, etc), which makes sense since BMW and Mercedes sell much more affordable cars in general, and even if you're buying their most expensive car, you still deal with the same sales and service teams that are working with the entry level cars. Thus they tend to be pushier, and deal with you using stereotypical car buying tactics.

Porsche on the other hand are extremely low pressure (from my experiences), and even their dealerships feel exclusive when you walk in. Unfortunately it gives them an air of arrogance, but I prefer it to a pushy salesperson. Also, Porsche's are a lot more exclusive on the street, which many people value.

I think a lot of people are happy to pay the extra for the entire experience, and attention to detail, and the Porsche "DNA" which ensures almost all their cars have the performance-oriented driving dynamics (not sure about the Cayenne though as I haven't driven one, and don't really like them - or any full size SUV for that matter).

Thanks!

Z.
Agreed, my wife's Macan Turbo handles amazingly well and I never mind driving it. I was skeptical at first but now I have no problem with them marketing it as a 'real' Porsche. I was less impressed with the Cayenne but then again, it is considerably bigger.

If the Taycan feels and handles legit, they'll find the buyers I am sure.
 

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I agree the price is crazy, but the fit, finish and engineering in a Porsche is dramatically better than M and AMG. I have a Macan Turbo PP and an M3 right now, and the Turbo PP is significantly better in terms of finish. The quality and feel is much higher throughout, but it did cost a lot more than the M3 of course.

Thanks!

Z.
Ive came from a few 911 and I agree, fit and finish are better. IMO sales tactic is moot since a lot of people have internet pricing and an idea of what discount they are going to offer.

Support and service is completely franchise dependent. Doesn't matter if its which car maker it is.

I guess im just frugal when it comes down to a car as a tool vs enjoyment vs something in the middle. Half the time in the daily driver, I just zone out of what im actually "in"
 
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