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Overall, I’d say it has been a good week for electric vehicles.
The Porsche Taycan had more than just a moment in the spotlight, really. It kicked up all sorts of discussion about where EVs are headed and brought in some healthy debate about where things should be headed. I believe there’s an old saying that goes, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” which is probably debatable; however, as far as EV awareness goes, even the most skeptical takes on Porsche vs. Tesla vs. the rest arguably does more to spread consumer curiosity than the most expensive and extensive marketing campaigns.
I know the Taycan has been discussed to death at this point, but I do find it interesting what its final debut meant in the big picture. Despite everything that the $TSLAQ crowd tries to drag Tesla through the mud about, here is a luxury sports car maker with a decades-long, hard-earned reputation spending serious time and effort developing an amazing electric car. It’s not a compliance car to meet some sort of regulatory requirement. It’s not just an “option” built to prove the company is eco friendly or whatever term makes people feel warm and fuzzy about their purchase. It was built to be an EV worthy of sharing the stage with its award-winning, legendary, gas-powered brethren.
I think Elon Musk’s subsequent attentions to the Taycan added to the publicity benefits EVs were experiencing as well. Silliness aside, Tesla’s new challenge to take on the Taycan’s Nürburgring record validated what Porsche had achieved and validated Tesla’s success in spreading its message that EVs really are the future of automotive transportation. Tesla fans are no longer just cheering on the brand’s drag race wins over legacy cars. There’s a new “normal” on its way where electric is competing with electric, and the finer details about the cars will matter rather than just the source of power.
The timing of these recent events seems to be well placed in light of, say, Europe’s upcoming regulations regarding CO2 reductions for vehicles. Reading the news about various car makers’ struggles to comply with the rules and the foot dragging that’s been going on, it seems to me like there’s at least some confidence that serious efforts to make good electric cars is underway.
Personally, it took a while to understand the hubbub about EVs because of the poor efforts of car makers in the past. They sounded impractical, held very little value once purchased, and could only be driven until the batteries went bad, essentially. I mean, if it weren’t for writing about Tesla as a reporter, I would have thought any EV built to meet government regulations was going to be crud and held off as long as possible before buying one. Sometimes I wonder if European customers worry about the same thing after so many legacy car makers have come out with lackluster EVs, assuming their budget doesn’t allow for a Tesla.
The Taycan seems to give some hope that “compliance” may be out the window soon. Now that there’s another serious EV out there, everyone else risks looking…lazy? Uninterested in customer satisfaction? Innovatively challenged? With both Tesla and Porsche blowing through stereotypes, other car makers have to shelve their excuses and figure things out.
Then there’s Rivian continuing to make progress towards entering the arena as well. Most recently, the startup announced a $350 million dollar investment from Cox Automotive meant to focus on customer experience. It’s the third big investment for the company that’s working on some serious electric pickup trucks and SUVs. I know we still have yet to see their cars enter production, but the prototypes and show models are pretty impressive already. They’re yet another company putting legacy auto on notice that the compliance days are over.
Ford seems to have gotten the message with its $500 million dollar Rivian investment, so there are sprinkles of hope here and there I suppose. Perhaps Audi’s tiny-range e-tron that was recently announced will produce enough customer results to encourage production of really good EVs with a win-win balance. All customers get great cars, and car makers can find a better price point by reducing the parts that cost the most, i.e., the batteries. Just brainstorming here…
But regardless, considering the Tesla and Porsche banter and Rivian’s news this week, I’d say EVs came out with winning headlines overall. “Power” to the future? Sorry… I’m a sucker for cheesy 80s mantras.