Tesla rival Porsche is starting to realize it’s not easy to produce the Taycan

Porsche recently opened reservations for the company’s first all-electric car, the Tesla Model S-rivaling Taycan (formerly known as the Mission E sedan). In an announcement earlier this month, Porsche Managing Director Alexander Pollich stated that the reception to the upcoming vehicle, whose final production version has not yet been unveiled, has so far been encouraging. Porsche expects to start producing the Taycan sometime in 2019, in order to meet what appears to be a healthy demand for the electric car.

As it turns out, ramping production of the Taycan is turning out to be a challenging task for the veteran automaker. Porsche plans to build its Taycan line at a facility located at Zuffenhausen, a suburb in Stuttgart, Germany. The site is a historic location for the pedigreed brand, considering that it is the location where the Porsche 911, one of the company’s most iconic vehicles, is being produced. Other important cars in Porsche’s lineup, such as the 718 Boxster, as well as the 718 Cayman, are also manufactured in the same facility.

Porsche is aiming to produce 20,000 Taycans per year in the Zuffenhausen site. Starting and ramping the production of the all-electric sedan requires a complex reorganization of Porsche’s facility, especially considering that the Taycan’s line has to be built while the production of the 911, 718 Boxster, and 718 Cayman is running at full capacity. In a statement to Dutch auto publication Vroom, Porsche head of production Albrecht Reimold described the difficulties facing the company.

“Finding the right location is a difficult decision. Transforming the existing factory costs a lot of money, moving to a new location as well. Transforming a factory while the production lines are running at full capacity is not an easy task,” he said.

Project manager David Thor Trygvason elaborated on the complex challenge involved in building the Taycan’s production line. According to Trygvason, the location where the Taycan’s line would be set up has to be overhauled. Apart from this, Porsche’s estimated timeline for the project is 48 months, making the project quite costly and demanding.  

“The existing location has to be demolished and rebuilt in a short time, but at the same time the production of the 911 and 718 Boxster and Cayman must continue to run. That makes it not only difficult in terms of time and money, but also in terms of logistics and mobility. After all, we are in a location where there is already a factory, where other companies are nearby and where people live nearby,” he said.

Despite these difficulties, Reimold noted that Porsche employees have expressed a sincere commitment to begin the production of the Taycan as early as possible. According to the Porsche executive, the company’s workers have agreed to help finance the factory overhaul by opting to keep their pay flat until 2026, at which point the employees will start getting their investments back. This means that the employees will not have regular salary raises for the next few years.

“We have agreed with them to invest a part of their wage increase until 2025 in the construction of the new factory. From 2026, they will simply receive their investment back,” Reimold said.

Considering that Porche has dubbed the Taycan as one of the company’s most important vehicles after the iconic 911, sacrifices made to start the electric car’s production appear to be necessary, at least for now. If any, Porsche’s struggles to build the Taycan at scale mirror those that have been faced by Tesla with its Model 3 ramp. Just like Porsche’s factory, Tesla also set up its Model 3 lines in the same facility building the Model S and Model X. The aggressive ramp, which CEO Elon Musk aptly dubs as “production hell,” has been haunting the electric car maker for the past year. Ultimately, Porsche’s current difficulties with the Taycan are an indication that Tesla’s struggles with Model 3 production are not problems exclusive to the California-based electric car maker.

Building cars is not a simple task. Building cars that people want to buy is even more challenging. With car buyers and the auto market steadily shifting its interest to electric vehicles, carmakers with upcoming battery-powered cars are now feeling the pressure to roll out their offerings as quickly as they can. Being one of the legacy carmakers who has committed to releasing an electric car, this is something that Porsche appears to be experiencing now. Nevertheless, with a line of reservations that are growing longer, and with a workforce determined to make sacrifices for the company, there is a good chance that the Porsche Taycan can still make it in time for its anticipated debut next year. According to Trygvason, the work being done in Porsche’s factory might be daunting, but “the good news is that the work is still fully on schedule.”

The Porsche Taycan is expected to feature the legacy carmaker’s trademark performance, with the vehicle listed with a 0-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds, a range of 310 miles per charge, and a top speed of 155 mph.

Tesla rival Porsche is starting to realize it’s not easy to produce the Taycan
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