Porsche CEO Admits It Lost Some Customers to Tesla

Once a purveyor of petrol who denounced electric, Porsche now realizes Tesla is doing something right.

Luxury Automobile Manufacture At Porsche AG's Factory
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Porsche is a unique performance car manufacturer that has a specific customer base who enjoy a certain blend of luxury and performance. Unfortunately, it appears that Porsche has identified that some of its potential customers have skirted the manufacturer altogether, instead looking towards battery technology to fulfill their needs.

It's no secret that Porsche, much like its parent company Volkswagen, is looking to take on the market share that Tesla is currently dominating. Offerings by the electrified manufacturer has proven to be disruptive to Porsche's sales, encouraging the manufacturer to seek out an electrified solution of its own, such as the upcoming Mission E.

"We have lots of respect for Tesla" Porsche North America CEO Klaus Zellmer told interviewers with CNBC, "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."

As sales of Porsche's Panamera continue to fall since its introduction, a competitor in the electric sector may very well be to blame. Tesla began to invade the luxury sports sedan market space as it started to produce the Model S in 2012, but unlike its German competitor, the Tesla was fueled by battery power instead of gas. Since earlier this year, Volkswagen has begun to publicly take the threat of Tesla rather seriously, even going as far as to directly identify Tesla as its main competitor in the electric market space.

Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid -- /CHEATSHEET
The Drive

The truth is, Porsche just doesn't have a competing electrified option as of yet. Sure, the Panamera has a plug-in hybrid available to purchase, but it's far more expensive than comparable offerings of the Model S. The auto manufacturer has even said that it was "very important" to supply its iconic 911 with a hybrid drive train as well, something sure to upset die-hard petrol Porsche purists. Until Porsche makes its Mission E available to the public, it will have no fully electric offering to the market.

We do expect the Porsche Mission E to disrupt Tesla Model S sales. On paper, the Mission E seems like a great offering when viewed side-by-side with its rival. The performance which boasts zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds, 300 miles of range (with a fantastic recharge time), looks that kill, and a price that rivals the Model S' without the bat of an eye. Porsche also hopes to make its vehicle feel more technology-oriented by offering a very high-tech interior and modern design, something identified above as a potential reason for consumers choosing Tesla. If Porsche can pull this off, we might see the market shift in its favor.