'Future is electric': Porsche sets out plans to battle Tesla in US

Porsche Cars North America Chief Executive Officer Klaus Zellmer. <i> Image: AFP / Drew Angerer </i>
Porsche Cars North America Chief Executive Officer Klaus Zellmer. <i> Image: AFP / Drew Angerer </i>
Drew Angerer

More than half the cars produced by Porsche will be electric by 2025, the German manufacturer's North American chief said Tuesday as he set out plans to overtake market leader Tesla.

"The future is electric," Klaus Zellmer told the Los Angeles Auto Show, adding that the brand's commitment to battery-powered vehicles is "huge."

"By 2025 Porsche will have crossed a tipping point, actually building more than 50% of its annual volume ... with either plug-in hybrid technology or fully battery," he said.

However, he added, the "combustion engine of course is not dead," pointing to Porsche's popular 911 sports cars.

Porsche, a subsidiary of the Volkswagen group, unveiled its new battery-powered Taycan at Frankfurt's International Auto Show in September.

The brand's first 100% electric sports car, the Taycan is capable of going from 0-96km/h in less than three seconds.

The luxury model is intended to rival Tesla, the California firm that dominates the global electric car market.

Tesla has an especially firm grip on the United States, which is Porsche's second-largest market. The German brand sold 57 000 cars in the US last year.

From 2021 Porsche intends to sell a fully electric version of its SUV, the Macan, which would compete directly against Tesla's Y model.

"The electric Macan will compete in many different segments -- it's going to draw many people from different segments" just as Tesla did when it entered the market, Zellmer said.

"It's not a transition that is going to turn the world upside down within five years, it's probably 10 years" away, the North American CEO added.

Porsche is facing growing competition in China, its biggest single market, from Tesla.

Tesla last month said its new so-called Gigafactory in Shanghai had started production on a trial basis.

Zellmer said the growth of electric cars in China was being impeded by the lack of access to charging facilities in mega-cities where tens of millions live and work in high rise buildings.

"Charging your car for the night is a challenge. 90% of charging according to our market research actually happens at home or at work," he said.

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