Tesla Motors is one of the few success stories in the modern automobile market, specifically the pure electric Tesla Model S. Of course, this isn’t the end of the line for the first successful automaker in the last fifty years, and Tesla Motors has big plans for the future.
Currently, pure electric vehicles [EV], such as the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf, are selling hundreds of percentage points better than last year. Hybrid electric vehicles [HEV] and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles [PHEV], as well as extended-range EVs [EREV] are seeing increasing sales, as well, but only in the tens of percentage points over last year. Pure EVs may have their limitations but, to those who know how to work within those limitations, the EV is an excellent choice for an automobile. Still, for those who aren’t ready to drive EVs, PHEVs and HEVs are still better choices than conventional vehicles, and EREVs make a good stepping-stone to a pure EV driving experience.
Tesla Motors is the most successful of the EV manufacturers, which makes it a great target, but is there really anything that can compete with such a winning combination of style, performance, and range?
Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid
If you tick off all the option boxes on the Tesla Motors build page, you’ll end up with a Tesla Model S P85+, about $120,000 worth of pure electric driving. The Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid is a 416hp PHEV, starting around $100,000. I’m sure if you tick off enough boxes, it’ll match the Tesla, but could it compete? Personally, I don’t think so.
First, just 95hp of the overall power is provided by the electric motor, the rest provided by the gasoline engine. The Panamera is a full second slower zero-to-sixty than the Tesla Model S. Tesla Model S torque is all electric, all the time. Someone might say, “Well, the Panamera has up to 600mi range,” but the sad fact is that the Panamera has just 22mi pure electric range. The rest of those 600mi is provided by pure liquid dinosaur.
Rumor has it that BMW might be working on something in between the i3 and i8, both PHEVs. Could they call it the BMW i5? Again, the problem comes up that the i3 and i8 are PHEVs, with limited EV range. The i3, for example, is estimated to have a range of up to 100mi, and the i8, just 22mi. Both are far less than even half the range of the Tesla Model S 85kWh. Something in between, a possible BMW i5, would most likely fall in between, but the results aren’t encouraging. Beyond rumors, there isn’t a whole lot we know about the BMW i5, but I don’t think it’ll come close to the Tesla Model S.
The Electric-Vehicle Battleground
Interestingly, it’s not the mass-market vehicle manufacturers who are afraid of Tesla Motors, but the luxury automakers. In spite of the fact that Tesla Model S is, ostensibly, not a luxury car, it is outselling luxury automakers, such as Lexus, BMW, and Porsche. Is there anything that these companies can do to match Tesla Motors’ success in the EV marketplace?
As the old saying goes, “You don’t bring a knife to a gunfight,” or in the case of electric vehicles, you don’t bring a hybrid vehicle to an electric vehicle market. So far, the only pure EVs of any repute, such as the Nissan LEAF and Toyota RAV4 EV, just haven’t come close to the capabilities and performance of the Tesla Model S. Future Tesla Motors models look just as promising, but offering a PHEV to compete against the pure EV Tesla Model S, Model X, or even a future Model? Sorry, I don’t think so.
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