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Survey: Tesla Model S preferred to Porsche Taycan — but why compare just them?

Porsche is launching the Taycan tomorrow, which has led to a lot of excitement and anticipation among EV fans.  Finally, another performance-oriented EV is hitting the market.  This excitement has translated to 30,000 preorders for Porsche even before Taycan’s “official” reveal (which Fred Lambert will be covering tomorrow).

But according to a survey out today from Autolist, average consumers are still more excited about the veteran in the market: the Tesla Model S.

Autolist surveyed 1,500 current car shoppers, and 45% preferred the Tesla Model S to the Porsche Taycan, with 33% picking the Porsche and 22% saying they weren’t sure.

When asked about the reasons for their choices, Tesla won due to brand reputation, performance, and general trust in Tesla to make EVs properly. This includes Tesla’s Supercharger network, which has a huge head start over other quick-charge networks such as VW’s Electrify America. It also includes possible future interoperability between the Tesla and other quick-charge networks.

With Porsche, most everything came down to their brand reputation for performance, which they have carefully cultivated for decades.

Part of the reason for that is because we still don’t have full specs on the Taycan, so it’s hard for consumers to do a point-by-point comparison of the two. We’ll learn more about that tomorrow at the Taycan launch.

Electrek’s Take

These are actually pretty impressive numbers for the Porsche. Obviously the brand has had a positive reputation over a long period of time (diesel-gate notwithstanding), but we still haven’t seen the “official” reveal of the Porsche Taycan, which means there’s more information to be gleaned about the car, and possibly more excitement as well.

The Model S has established itself as a leader and garnered many accolades, so the fact that a theoretical Porsche managed to get more than 2/3 as much interest as the Model S is quite a feat.

In Autolist’s last survey, consumers were asked what reasons they avoid electric cars, and the top answers were the common myths that mostly aren’t concerns for EVs today when compared to new gas vehicles: range, price, and charging.

But in this survey, consumers were asked reasons they would prefer one car to the other, and those previous practical concerns fell by the wayside.

I argued in a previous post that these concerns were not realistic for most consumers in this day and age. I’m happy to see that when confronted with a decision between two real cars, rather than a theoretical one about EVs in general, consumers showed that they care about the things they usually care about — brand perception, performance, styling, and so on — rather than the myths they focused on in the last survey.

One issue with this survey, though, is that it falls into the same “Tesla-killer” mentality that so much of the industry has. Tesla’s intent is to inspire other automakers to take EVs seriously, and the goal is not to fight over a minuscule percentage of consumers who consider EVs, but to expand the pie and convert sales from gas cars to electric.

Besides, there’s still (inexplicably) a lot more people buying gas cars than electric, so targeting that market gives a lot more potential sales. So moves like Audi’s and Jaguar’s, advertising their cars purely to Tesla owners rather than to the much bigger gas car market, don’t make much sense from either an environmental or business perspective. At least for companies that are interested in increasing the size of the pie, rather than protecting the dinosaur-burning department from an upstart technology that seems to do everything better than it.

And this survey is another example of that. It pits the Tesla Model S, a large family sedan that happens to be quick and electric but isn’t built for the track, against the Porsche Taycan, a track-oriented, mid-size sedan. This is a closer comparison than many EV-only comparisons (i8 vs. Model S? Huh?), but the cars are still quite different, and this question still ignores the vast majority of the market for either of those types of cars.

And to be fair, Porsche themselves consider Tesla a benchmark (though they claim not to), so the survey is not completely unwarranted. But we still think these direct EV-only comparisons miss the point.

So we at Electrek don’t think it needs to be “Porsche versus Tesla,” but, rather, as usual, “EVs versus gas.” We’re sure that the drive and ownership experience of the Taycan will blow anything not-electric out of the water. So let’s see some more comparisons of the Taycan versus gas Porsches, BMWs, Mercedes, and the like, rather than pretending there’s only two cars in the market.

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Avatar for Jameson Dow Jameson Dow

Jameson has been driving electric vehicles since 2009, and has been writing about them and about clean energy for since 2016.

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