When the call came, Robert Wickel wasted little time. The subject? Reservations for Porsche’s all-electric Taycan were coming, even though the vehicle wouldn’t enter production until next year. Buying Tesla Inc.’s Model S, available for the past six years, had always been an option but lacked the allure of the first battery-powered car from the iconic German sportscar-maker.
“Tesla’s Model S triggered curiosity to give it a try, but there were several unknowns starting from unclear delivery times to a patchy service network,” said the 46-year-old Munich resident, who has been driving Range Rovers, Audis and Porsches and joined the list to place an order when they are available. The Taycan “is a serious car with the quality promise of a leading car manufacturer—I know whom I’m buying from and what can expect in case I need support.”
The Taycan, developed under the project code-name Mission E, is but one of a bulging wave of Tesla fighters about to roll off the production lines of premium European carmakers including Jaguar, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, starting, well, just about now. Count it as another headache for Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk, whose tweets about taking the company private are reportedly under review by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
To date, Tesla has ruled the roads for electric car buyers, with little direct competition in the market from $60,000 and up. Those days are over: Jaguar is already delivering its I-Pace all-electric sport-utility vehicle, with comparable entry-level prices to the Model S sedan and Model X SUV. The new Jag comes with a pedigree of luxury, racing and engineering prowess. In some markets the wait list is now a year long.
“The I-Pace provides a more appealing space in which to pass the time, and a far more engaging driving experience on the way,” the reviewer wrote. The Tesla is “still impressively capable given its age, but quality is variable and chassis not close to the standard now set by Jaguar.”
The new rivals are likely behind some of the softness that Tesla has experienced in Europe.