May 14, 2009

Good News for Tesla Motors: $100K Porsche looks like S clone

Now that Porsche has unveiled the final production version of its long-awaited 4-door sedan, the $100,000 Panamera, it is clear that the vehicle bears many similarities to another hi-tech sedan, the all-electric Tesla S Sedan. I cobbled together some shots to show what I mean:

Both cars are very good looking, and both designs owe something to sport sedan styling pioneered by the Maserati Quattroporte, blending 4 doors into a swooping roof line. Both the Pamamera and the S have extensive sun roofs. Both have hatchbacks, made possible by the slope of the roof. I am in no way suggesting that anyone is copying anyone here; if you want four doors and seating for four in a smooth shape with low drag coefficient then this is the shape. Porsche rounds the Panamera's rear in keeping with the Porsche "look" while Tesla's Franz von Holzhausenon takes a more carved, angular approach that has slight echoes of the Nissan Altima and recent BMW 3 series. Bear in mind that von Holzhausenon's remit here is to craft a look that gets the pulse racing yet appeals to a wide audience. After all, the Tesla sedan spearheads the company's bid to take all-electric vehicles mainstream.

But under the skin the cars couldn't be more different. The Panamera runs on fossil fuel and requires a fuel tank. The Tesla takes its power from batteries built into the chassis. That allows the Tesla to have a huge trunk space. How big? It can accommodate a third row of seating! Pricing is also very different, roughly $60K for a Tesla versus $100K for a Porsche. But performance may be quite closely matched (hard to believe perhaps, until you experience the Tesla's neck-snapping acceleration off the line).

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