Porsche Isn't Letting The Pandemic Stop It From Taking On Tesla

Illustration for article titled Porsche Isn't Letting The Pandemic Stop It From Taking On Tesla
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Porsche is still full speed ahead in taking on Tesla in the US, Volkswagen is doing the electric car reservation thing, and Hurricane Laura is pounding dealerships and everything else in Texas and Louisiana. All that and more in The Morning Shift for August 27, 2020.

1st Gear: Porsche Is Still Serious About Taking On Tesla

The Taycan is here and is a pretty worthy competitor to the Tesla Model S and an electric Macan that’d battle the Model X is also in the works.


While all of the Tesla competitors getting a little more serious about, you know, actually competing with Tesla all feel a day late and a dollar short, it will be interesting to watch this play out over the next five years.

Tesla has had a massive head start—the Model S was introduced over eight years ago!—but if automotive history shows anything it’s that things change very quickly. And while one company might have a technological advantage over others for a time, everyone also usually catches up.

Porsche is doing all it can now to catch up.

From the Financial Times:

“We haven’t got a plan to postpone anything in [America], and that’s true for other countries as well,” Oliver Blume, Porsche’s chief executive, told the Financial Times.

But he added that current projections were based on there being no “second wave” of Covid-19 infections.


Despite reversing sales, Porsche will not postpone the launches of electric versions of the Macan sport utility vehicle, Mr Blume said, as well as further Taycan variants, including a cheaper base model.

However, the Taycan Cross Turismo, an estate version that had an original launch date for the end of the year, will be delayed until 2021 as Porsche attempts to improve its “break-even point”, where it starts to make profits, in the wake of the crisis.


This segment of the market is not volume and is out of reach for most people thus making it more of a spectator sport for those of us on the sidelines, but who doesn’t love a good heavyweight bout?

2nd Gear: Another EV Maker, Another Giant Initial Public Offering

This time it is Xpeng, the Chinese EV maker, which hopes to raise $1.5 billion in the U.S. Xpeng is one of a lot of automakers trying to capitalize on EVs in China, and has sold over 20,000 cars there.


From Reuters:

Xpeng’s chief executive He Xiaopeng, 42, who is also known for founding internet browser company UCWeb, said the company will focus on cars priced between 150,000 yuan ($21,804) to 300,000 yuan, a big mass-market segment in China, the world’s biggest auto market.

Xpeng will use the funds for research and development, and to expand sales, He told Reuters in an interview.

The firm invested over 2 billion yuan in technology development last year, with around one-third on intelligent functions such as autonomous driving, He said.


The Guangzhou-based automaker had planned to sell 85 million American Depository Shares (ADS) but increased that to about 99.7 million shares following higher-than-expected demand from investors, according to the filing. Its shares will start trading in New York on Thursday.


The electric vehicle bubble keeps getting bigger. I expect we’ll see some kind of market correction at some point, but that certainly hasn’t happened yet.

3rd Gear: Volkswagen Will Take Your $100 To Get In Line For The ID.4

We’re not getting the ID.3, but we are getting the ID.4, which is basically an all-electric Tiguan. Volkswagen has not revealed a price yet, though if I had to guess I would say it’s going to start in the mid-$30,000 range. Next month, you’ll be able to lay down $100 for a reservation, according to Automotive News.

The ID4 is due to begin arriving in U.S. dealerships at the very end of this year. Initially, distribution will be concentrated in states such as California that have a zero-emission-vehicle mandate but should be expanded across the country in the first half of 2021, explained Duncan Movassaghi, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Volkswagen of America. He said that fully 99 percent of the brand’s 650 dealers in the U.S. have now signed up to sell the ID4 and subsequent battery-electric vehicles from the automaker. Those dealerships are undergoing individual reviews right now to prepare them to sell electric vehicles, with Volkswagen subsidizing up to 85 percent of the costs of the needed dealership infrastructure.


Movassaghi said that consumers will be able to place initial deposits online either from their homes or at a local VW dealership and will later be asked to go into the dealership and deposit an additional $400 to confirm their order and lock in their configuration. Both deposits will be fully refundable until the car is delivered. Once they sign up, consumers will be able to see their place in line and get updates through the build and delivery process for their individual vehicle. Incentives, including the $7,500 federal credit, will be automatically configured into the online pricing by ZIP code.


Tesla popularized this whole reservation trend, and I kind of hate it. I understand why automakers do it, though, because it’s an easy gauge of interest and also a gauge of interest in trims, meaning that VW can allocate ID.4s better. VW’s system seems a little more rigorous in that it sounds like you’ll be able to lock in a configuration, unlike, for example, Ford’s. The Bronco’s system’s benefits for the customer are a little less clear.

On paper, the ID.4 will take on the Model Y, though it’ll probably be less luxurious. It’s set to be fully unveiled next month.


4th Gear: Hurricane Laura Is Rampaging Through Texas And Louisiana

Hundreds of thousands of people are without power as of this writing, and over 1.5 million people were ordered to evacuate because of a storm that will very likely turn deadly.


Automotive News, meanwhile, caught up with some dealerships in the path of it. Everyone sounds like they’ve been through this before.

Louisiana dealer Phillip Tarver said he would hunker down in his Lake Charles dealership waiting for Hurricane Laura.

He said he was hosting nearly 30 people at the dealership Wednesday night.

Tarver offered the dealership as a safe place to stay for employees and friends that live in mobile homes or low-lying areas.

“We are in a good location for flood and storm surge,” he said.

In preparation of the storm Tarver stacked up the cars on his lot but opted not to bring them inside.

He said that staying at the dealership is not only safe but allows for quicker recovery and clean up once the storm is over.

“Now we endure the storm for 24 hours and see what kind of damage there is a recover and pick up from there,” he said. “That’s how we do it in Louisiana.”


5th Gear: Demand For Lithium For Electric Cars Is Poised To Explode

Some 79 percent of the entire demand for lithium will be for electric cars by 2030, according the Chilean state mining agency Cochilco. That would be more than double what it was last year, or one third.


Demand for lithium, in fact, is expected to rise across the board, as we noted the other day when Chile-based lithium mining company SQM also called increasing demand and started cranking up output.

Via Reuters:

Cochilco said demand for lithium for electric vehicles had been muted this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, expected at around 75,000 tonnes, but would surge to 1.4 million tonnes by 2030.

Meanwhile, demand not associated with electromobility but with cell phones and other consumer goods would reach 377,000 tonnes in 2030, compared with the 242,000 tonnes expected for this year.


Something something I think we’ve reached peak oil.

Reverse: Mark Webber Born In 1976

Here’s a review of his autobiography, titled “Aussie Grit.”


Neutral: How Are You?

I spent a not inconsiderable time last night plotting this weekend’s grocery run. This is what I’ve been reduced to.

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.

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I’ve never liked the looks of this and couldn’t put my finger on it, but this angle highlights the part I hate most.

The front end tear drop below the headlight looks like a prison tattoo - who did the Porsche kill to earn the teardrop tattoo?