Porsche CEO Says Automaker Is Losing Customers To Tesla

Porsche upcoming electric supercar platform


Porsche North America CEO admits the company’s “love affair” with California and respect for Tesla.

Though CEO, Klaus Zellmer, calls California a country (some would agree that the state surely functions in its own unique way), he realizes the state’s importance in terms of innovation and more specifically, e-mobility and electric vehicles. He hopes that as his automaker moves forward, Tesla will not be the only name associated with luxury all-electric vehicles. Zellmer shared:

“Porsche and California has always been a love affair. California is also the origin of lots of disruptions – when we talk about e-mobility, when we talk about companies like, Google and Apple and Facebook – it’s also a country where people look for an edge.”

For now, however, Zellmer admits that legacy automakers may be losing customers to Tesla. He recently spoke on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.” The CEO said:

“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.”

Porsche, like Tesla, was present at the recent Los Angeles Auto Show. The Silicon Valley automaker surprised onlookers with its Model 3. Sadly, there was no Mission E at the event (Porsche’s upcoming pure-electric Tesla Model S competitor). The automaker has delved into hybrids and plug-ins in the past, but never an all-electric car. Hopefully, the Mission E will come to market in 2019 and provide real competition for Tesla.

Zellmer never specifically admitted that Tesla is a primary inspiration, although he did say that California and the companies there definitely inspire the brand and its future aspirations.

Source: CNBC

Categories: Porsche, Tesla

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41 Comments on "Porsche CEO Says Automaker Is Losing Customers To Tesla"

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Losing customers to Tesla ? GOOD! But Never Enough!

More evidence that Tesla has succeeded head to head against the European luxury/sport segment where the other laggard American OEMs have repeatedly failed.

You are absolutely correct in your “European luxury/sports segment” analysis. At the LA auto show this year, with nearly 3/4 of a Million sq/ft of potential exhibit space, Jaguar/Range Rover has their I-Pace EV displayed, as the closest vehicle (by proximity) to the Tesla Model 3, and the rest of the Tesla accessories and Vehicles.

What a coincidence that those two vehicles would be stable mates for a week here in LA, before they both go into full production in 2018.

It goes well past Zellner’s:
“..connectivity, digital stuff in the car and electric battery..” Seems lost on him that Tesla offers better acceleration, throttle control, lower center of gravity, faster-than-Quattro torque vectoring, quieter interior, the same double A-arm sedan suspension (Too tight, for many 7-series owners).

It’s too bad for Porsche that many former owners look for the car that, in many ways, drives better.

I’m not sure the Tesla drives better.. it sure as **ll is quick to pick up speed, but one can feel the weight of the car in turns. It affect handling and feeling. Not that it would be a problem in regular A – B transportation. . Some love the quiet EV sound, some want to hear the roar of the engine. If you have a shi**y ICE car, with a cheap ICE engine – I’ll take electric any day. I sometimes drive a dirt cheap older diesel car, with low sound insulation at work. I’m just going to drive from A to B, and then have to listen to that noise for hours and hours is just a drag and annoying. Ruins music or audio books in the car. Have to drive slower then the speed limit to properly hear what is said. A medium quality EV (and better) is like night and day compared to this. (A more high end gas/diesel car is also quiet enough for me – but then I have to pay for fuel.. fuel = exhaust..). I can still enjoy the roar and music from a supersports car or just a good V8 or… Read more »


First they ignore you,

then they laugh at you,

then they fight you,

then you win.

So true! Just look at Faraday Future!

Old sayings are romantic. Twaddle. And not more.

Yeah If Tesla stole 1 customer from each manufacturer that would equal total sales of Tesla

Porsche US Sales
2012 35,043
2013 42,323
2014 47,007
2015 51,756
2016 54,280

2016 would be 54,281 without Tesla

Another Euro point of view ("anyone found my brain ?" version)

Again spreading lies and FUD ! 🙂

Porsche has growing sales in the recent years only because it started to make “cheap” SUVs and sedans.
But their global sales are currently about 250K, Tesla is managing 40% of that only with two cars, and on of them is 5 years old…

I’ll take the Porsche CEO’s word over yours and you can always ask MB what Tesla has done to their formerly sorld-leading sales of the S Class.

Porsche is doing more then well.


They have sold more cars each and every year for a long time. Just look up statistics.
Porsche is a brand with loyal followers.

The overall car market is also growin. So Tesla can sell more cars for each and every year – without other companies feeling it on their bottom line.
For the moment. At one point, they will reach numbers that car sales grows can not compensate for. I think that will happens when they get control of the model 3 production.
At the same time .. I’m not sure the Model 3 steals customers from Porsche.. unless it is cheaper Boxter models maybe.
If they make 500 000 Model 3s, those customers have to come from somewhere.

Fully agree with you, like Apple Loyalist, Porsche and BMW have LOYAL followings, period. If the TSLA Vapers, think that Any Old BMW trendist is going to Switch to Tesla Model 3 Guinea Pig will just switch to an UNproven Reliability, More Expensive ~$50k Model 3 (given $35K M3 is an imaginary fantasy Unicorn. DREAM ON. The Perfect Storm disaster quarter of Peak Model s & x, with serious Model 3 production Fail is Here. Will see what Really happens in 2018 with when California Model 3 Wait List = 0. If that happens 6-12 months after non-NDA-gag is Pulled out of Employee-Only mouths, then the Shorters will finally have the TSLA wagons circled for the kill.

Right you are captain! There are no such thing as icebergs! It seems Porsche is ignoring your order sir and turning the ship anyway!

😆 😆 😆

I think we should feel sorry for Tesla bashing kl?wns. They are in such deep denial!

Here’s a set of figures which paints a rather different picture:

Tesla’s global automobile sales totals:
2012: 2650
2013: 22,300
2014: 31,655 (+41.95%)
2015: 50,580 (+59.8%)
2016: 76,230 (+50.7%)

You are the Real Klown for littering these comments with your emoji, and Stuart smalley al Frankenstein pompoms. Reposting those same global yearly TSLA figures, when USA model S has flatlined and declining with no more growth, and Model X soon to stall. The Remainder of the Non-US figures are Not to Real intl end users, since Tesla flatly refuses to disclose per-country sales. And they have a Joke Of a China Market share at 16K in all of 2016.

STILL whining and crying about Tesla upselling Model S buyers into more expensive Model X units?

Still whining about Tesla buyers moving from sedans to CUV/SUV’s, when the ENTIRE automotive industry is seeing the exact same trend?

Funny how you only complain about this when Tesla does it, and are silent about the rest of the entire automotive industry doing the same. Or at least trying too, except for the fact that the rest of the automotive industry is actually DOWN in sales nearly 10% off of 2016 highs. But you go after the company who is on track to increase sales by 20-30%, who is effectively outperforming the automotive industry by 30-40% in comparison.

He’s right. You nutters are Tesla bashing kl?wns!!!

Maybe on paper he lost too much money shorting TSLA and is trying to
put down TESLA, hoping to drive his paper losses down!

Some of these trolls stink of stupidity, these is no way they have money to short anything.

Well Pinocchio, you have Zero evidence that Model X users shifted from an intended Model S purchase, period. Model X in USA will Flatline very soon, robably next month (it is an $100k car – how many of Those can You afford). Keep up the lies and misdirection, like your leader, blind mouse.

Because Porsche got to into other markets e.g. with the Macan their sales went up. Compare the Panamera numbers and you see the dent from 2013 accidentally the start of Tesla. Down 43% since 2012, they‘d be singing in the rain if they only had lost 1 customer.
2016 4.403
2015 4.985
2014 5.740
2013 5.421
2012 7.614
2011 6.879
2010 7.741

“Though CEO, Klaus Zellmer, calls California a country”

This is probably because germans use the german word for “country” also for their “states” in Germany.

We Americans use the word “country” to mean “region”, in expressions like “wine country” or “big sky country” or “Quaker country”. Klaus Zellmer may be using the word informally, but I don’t know that he’s actually using it improperly.

My take, on CA, was he’d better beware of CARB states making up a third, to almost half, of new car sales. These are places facing the 2%, then 2019 4% of sales mandates. Ones that already have the demand for higher EV registrations (Pacific & Atlantic states).

Another Euro point of view

Indeed, it takes time to thoroughly test a car before production.

Try sitting on your hands for as long as they did and your fingers will be numb too.

Mission E is just so expensive, I don’t see why anyone would get one over a S/X 100DL which is tens of thousands cheaper, has the supercharger network, is quicker and offers AP…

We don’t know what Mission E will cost. It has been suggested it will be positioned just below Panamera, so it could start as low as $80K for all we know. In that case it would be a serious Model S competitor for those who don’t need the Supercharger network (Porsche is working on something more powerful though) or the interior space (it looks like a 2+2+ room for a golfbag).

Chris — Correct, they have not announced a price or a firm sale date. All we have is Porsche Chairman Oliver Blume telling CAR magazine:

On sale by end of 2019…Porsche Mission E ‘priced like entry-level Panamera’

Most car magazines have interpreted that as $85K, roughly right between a base version of the Tesla Model S 75 and Tesla Model S 100D.

We will have to see how the options and features stack up, and know what the price and specs are of the future 2020 Model S, to know how it competes with a 2020 model year Mission E if it were released at the “end of 2019”.

It is literally impossible to make the price comparison now, because the current Model S is scheduled for a major revision by the end of 2019. But I’m sure Porsche will try to get as much mileage as they can out of comparing their future car to Tesla’s current car, while pretending the Model S will stay the same and patiently wait for them to start sales.

These brand specific charging systems do not and, even more, will not in the future serve EV makers or the buyers well. There are no Toyots, Ford, etc gas stations.

To move beyond the enthusiast market a universal charging system where electricity is sold at market prices will be necessary (so the supplier of the electricity can make money and the purchaser can make an informed and simple purchase decision).

The price will have to vary based on time of day, day of the week and season so as to minimize increases in peak demand (which requires new power generation systems). In a world with large amounts of solar electricity the price might not be highest in the mid-day but rather in early morning and late afternoon.

An advantage for many EV drivers will be the additional ability to to slow charge overnight at home at off peak prices.

The current system will significantly limit the appeal of EVs to mainstream users.


“a universal charging system where electricity is sold at market prices will be necessary (so the supplier of the electricity can make money and the purchaser can make an informed and simple purchase decision).”

I’m not sure what your point is with this comment.

ICE vehicles currently don’t have a universal fuel, or a single market price, and ICE car buyers aren’t able to make purchase decisions for what car to buy based upon fuel prices.

In fact, there are more common ICE fuel types than there are common EV charging standards. Not all cars can run on diesel, E85, regular grade gas, or premium grade gas. Fuel prices vary wildly depending on fuel type, grade, location, time of year, current events, etc. This hasn’t held back ICE car sales.

It certainly isn’t optimal that all cars (ICE or EV) can’t be fueled in only one way, and that fuel prices aren’t predictable. But I’m not sure how that will hold up EV sales any more than ICE sales.

There is very little chance that it will start below $100k. I’m betting on a base price of $120k.

Another Euro point of view

I don’t remember that price announced was very expensive ($85’000 ??), moreover, because it’s a VW group car, you will likely find shortly after the same chassis/battery/motor used by Audi and Bentley thus possibly resulting to price reduction (as with Porsche SUVs, components costs being driven down).

I notice that all the Plug-in’s from germany are the MOST EXPENSIVE OPTION, tied to the HIGHEST HORSEPOWER gas engine.

Giving these hybrids ZERO environmental benefit.
It’s almost as if these companies are majority owned by the Oil Industry.

And why Tesla is getting such massive sales.

What about BMW?

Not true with the BMW 3-Series, 7-Series, and SUV based PHEV’s. Probably others too.

Well, duh!

Tesla came out of nowhere. So, each and every customer it has from the luxury/performance segment is a customer from one of those luxury brands…

Finally, it is time for them to wake up. Now bring out your competitive products!

“Porsche CEO Says Automaker Is Losing Customers To Tesla”

Prior to 2013, perhaps that would have been news. Today, not so much.

“Hopefully, the Mission E will come to market in 2019 and provide real competition for Tesla.” Actually, it will be more of a competitor for their own ICE sales. Porsche brand loyalty is second only to Tesla (according to Consumer Reports — https://insideevs.com/tesla-1-consumer-reports-owner-satisfaction-survey/ ). This means a large number of their customers are repeat buyers. Porsche electric car sales growth will likely come largely out of their base of ICE car owners who will choose their EV over their ICE car for their next repeat purchase. The most disruptive thing Tesla has done to the ICE car industry is to build EV’s that are simply better overall than ICE cars in the same market segment/class. Many times at both a lower up-front cost and a much lower operating cost. Especially with the latest Model S trims that are now available after price cuts and larger batteries than ever before. Better than ICE Tesla’s force other companies like Porsche to have to BEAT THEIR OWN ICE CARS in order to compete with Tesla, who has been beating their ICE cars for years now. That means they will have to build EV’s that will cannibalize their ICE sales in order to compete… Read more »

Rule number one:
Give the people what they want.

Apparently, Porsche might not be doing that.