Porsche’s North America CEO Klaus Zellmer opened up about his thoughts on Tesla who, this year, is showcasing a Model 3 as an exhibitor at the LA Auto Show. The legacy German auto maker is also in town to highlight four new vehicle updates this year in its fifth largest market.
In an interview with CNBC reporter Phil LeBeau, Zellmer says that “Porsche and California has always been a love affair,” adding that California is “the origin of lots of disruptions.” The Porsche executive would call out the likes of Google, Apple and Facebook as companies that are making a statement in the e-mobility sector. But noticeably absent in his list of names is arguably the largest California-based disruptor in the electric mobility market – Tesla.
Without missing a beat, LeBeau quickly points out the omission.
“And another one of those companies that started out here [California] – Tesla – is widely viewed as one of your chief competitors. Does Tesla take buyers away from Porsche? Or have you lost buyers to Tesla, as people said ‘I want to go with a Model S instead of a particular Porsche model?'”
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The Porsche executive would admit that some buyers may have turned to other brands as they focus their attention on battery electric vehicles that have connectivity.
“I think we have lots of respect for Tesla – and, yes, I’m sure there are some Porsche customers, that in terms of connectivity, digital stuff in the car and electric battery in the vehicles, didn’t find the car that they wanted with Porsche so they bought somewhere else,” says Zellmer. “Now the good news is that we’re working on something that we might be able to attract them back with our brand.”
What’ he’s referring to is, of course, Porsche’s upcoming all-electric Mission E that by all accounts stacks up relatively well against Tesla’s flagship Model S sedan. Similar to Tesla’s base Model S, Porsche’s four-door sports sedan will have dual electric motors and able to reach a top speed of 155 mph. The Mission E is reported to have a starting price between $80,000 to $90,000, also comparable to Tesla’s Model S.
Watch below as Porsche CEO talks candidly about losing customers to Tesla.