The all-electric Porsche Taycan arrives in India this month. But are we sufficiently prepared for the switch to electric mobility?

Last month, we wrote about the Audi e-tron GT’s India launch, and this month, it’s the Porsche Taycan that’s arriving in India. Who could’ve predicted the electric cars market here would heat up so much in such a short span of time? Just a couple of years ago, electric cars were barely a blip on the country’s automotive radar and now, suddenly, they’re all over the place. If a supercar manufacturer like Porsche is launching something like the Taycan in India, the country must be really well-prepared — in terms of requisite consumer acceptance and, of course, a charging network — for high-end electric cars, right? Ahem. Let’s see about that.

Over the last one year, various carmakers have announced their plans to stop making internal combustion-engined cars over the next five to 10 years. Companies like Volvo, Audi, and Jaguar have announced plans to stop developing new IC engines, and switch to electric-only over the next 10 years. Other companies, including BMW, MercedesBenz, Toyota, and the Stellantis Group (which includes brands like Jeep, Fiat, Peugeot, Citroën, and a few others) have also announced their plans to move to electric mobility in a big way; these companies haven’t said they’ll stop working on IC engines, but do aim to have EVs accounting for 50-70 per cent of their total sales over the next few years.

Among other things, the push towards EVs is being driven by ever-tightening emissions norms (which, manufacturers say, are getting increasingly hard to comply with) and looming bans, which, in Europe at least, will start coming into effect in the near future. From 2025, sales of new IC-engined cars will be banned in Norway, and a similar ban will be enforced from 2030 in the UK, Denmark, Germany, and Iceland. In the US, California will ban the sales of new IC-powered cars from 2035, and other states are expected to follow suit shortly thereafter.

Quite clearly, then, mainstream carmakers are now all charged up about electric vehicles, and are determined to give Tesla a proper drubbing if they can help it. Of course, Tesla itself is also coming to India and is expected to launch its cars here sometime next year; we’re sure the entire Bollywood brigade, all the diamond merchants of South Bombay and every builder in New Delhi’s Hauz Khas, Vasant Vihar, Gulmohar Park, and Maharani Bagh areas has already booked a Tesla. After all, what’s the point of having a 10-bedroom farmhouse in Chattarpur if you’re still only driving an S-Class or a 7 Series? What will the neighbours think of your emissions?

But seriously, in the Indian context, are electric cars just a plaything for wellheeled early-adopters, or are EVs on their way to becoming a viable alternative for the masses? It depends on who you ask. Among Indian companies, Tata Motors has taken the lead with the development of ‘relatively affordable’ EVs (in the Rs 11-17 lakh range), while Mahindra is also said to be working hard on its own allnew electric cars, one or two of which might be launched next year. MG Motors is also in the EV fray and is doing well. In the premium segment, Audi, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and now Porsche, are offering high-end EVs in India, and Tesla will join the battle next year. Most others, including Maruti, Kia, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and Renault don’t seem to be interested in producing EVs for India, in the belief that the country isn’t quite ready for electric cars just yet.

That some manufacturers think India, which doesn’t really have much of a publicly available EV charging network as of now, may not be ready for EVs might be due to the fact that EVs aren’t really selling all that well even globally. Worldwide, electric passenger vehicle sales in 2020 registered an almost 70 per cent increase over 2019 numbers but still only accounted for just four per cent of total (EVs + ICs) global passenger vehicle sales. In India, EV sales have been climbing steadily for the last two years, registering more than 100 per cent growth year-on-year, albeit on a very small base. Currently, around 1,200 electric cars are being sold in India every month, though this number is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years, driven by ever-increasing prices of petrol and diesel, an expanding charging network and, yes, legislation; the government wants at least 30 per cent of all cars on the road in India to be all-electric by 2030.

It’s a huge challenge in more ways than one, including the setting up of an adequately large charging network; there are currently fewer than 2,000 EV charging stations across the country, while the requirement, by 2030, may be for more than 100 times as many charging outlets. There will also be issues pertaining to the availability of sufficient electricity (in a country where many smaller towns and semi-urban areas still have to suffer power cuts, what will happen when lakhs of electric cars need to plug in every day?), and facilities for EV battery disposal and recycling. We’re not saying it’s an impossible situation, it’s just that getting there will require huge amounts of planning and advance preparation, and not too much seems to be happening on that front just yet.

“Ready or not, here we come,” says Porsche, which is bringing the Taycan — an all-electric high-performance fourdoor luxury/sports saloon — to India this month. Porsche should certainly know a thing or two about building electric cars; the company’s founder, Ferdinand Porsche, built his first electric car — the C.2 Phaeton — back in 1898, and the car could do speeds of up to 25kph. He also built other experimental electric and hybrid cars in 1900, though things didn’t go any further after that for reasons unknown.

Now, more than 100 years after Ferdinand built his electric cars, Porsche is once again ready for electric mobility. Production of the Taycan started in 2019 and last year, Porsche sold more than 20,000 units of the car worldwide. At the time of writing this, the car is just one week away from being launched in India. Like other cars in Porsche’s line-up, the Taycan is available in 4S, Turbo, and Turbo S variants globally, and there’s a Cross Turismo version as well, which gets ‘shooting brake’ bodywork and bits of black cladding on the wheel-arches. We believe all variants are likely to come to India, though things will only be confirmed after the official launch later this month.

The base-model Taycan is rear-wheeldrive, with a single, rear-mounted electric motor. The 4S, Turbo, and Turbo S models get dual motors and all-wheel-drive. Depending on the model, power output ranges from 300kW (402bhp) for the entry-level model, going up to 420kW (563bhp) for the 4S, 500kW (671bhp) for the Turbo, and 560kW (751bhp) for the Turbo S. And while the power output for the turbo models is quite frankly ludicrous, we’ll note here that these do not, of course, have an actual turbocharger hidden away somewhere. The Taycan has an all-electric powertrain, and the ‘turbo’ nomenclature is only used to denote higher levels of power and performance.

Performance, as you’d rightly expect, is absolutely rocket-like. The Taycan Turbo S, which has a range of more than 400km, accelerates from zero to 100kph in 2.8 seconds, while the Turbo, with a range of up to 450km, can go from zero to 100kph in 3.2 seconds. Top speed for both is 260kph, which should be fast enough for anyone who doesn’t already have a Bugatti Chiron in their garage. With a system voltage of 800 volts and a 93.4kWh battery, the Taycan can be charged from five per cent to 80 per cent in less than 25 minutes, when using a DC fast charger. The car can also be charged at home via conventional AC charging outlets, though charging times will be considerably longer in that case.

Beyond the battery specs and charging times etc., what really matters is that the Taycan drives like a ‘proper’ Porsche. In addition to intense straight-line acceleration, the car is built to go around corners very, very fast. With adaptive air suspension, electronic damper control, electro-mechanical roll stabilisation and AWD with Porsche’s torque vectoring tech, the Taycan is happy to play as hard as it works. Like the illustrious 911, with its impeccable sporting pedigree, the Taycan is engineered for extreme performance; from the way the electric drivetrain is set up, to the taut, response suspension, to the electronic driving aids that help rather than come in the way of going faster, everything on the Taycan has been optimised for a pure, exhilarating driving experience.

The Taycan’s interiors, too, are the most futuristic Porsche has ever designed; the instrumentation and infotainment systems are fully digital, with all features and functions controlled via touchscreens. There is full smartphone connectivity, with Android Auto being fully integrated into Porsche’s own communication management system, while remote controlled parking is now available as an option; the driver can park the car remotely, via a smartphone app, without needing to be physically present at the steering wheel. With the highest levels of fit and finish, high-tech materials and use of cutting-edge technologies, the Taycan’s cabin offers unmatched style and luxury, which is what you’d expect from a top-ofthe-line Porsche.

Since we’re still a few days away from the Taycan’s launch at the time of writing this, we can’t tell you exactly how much you’ll have to pay for the privilege of owning one. However, depending on the variant, we expect ex-showroom prices to range between an estimated Rs 2.25 crore to Rs 3.25 crore. Expensive, yes, but the Taycan is one of the best, most desirable electric super-saloons in the world, and certainly more lust-worthy than any Tesla you care to name. Yes, India will take a couple of years before the country is fully ready for electric cars; Taycan buyers will have to contend with a lack of publicly available DC fast chargers, and non-stop Bombay-Goa jaunts may be a bit challenging for now. But the revolution has started, and for Porsche fans who are ready to embrace the future, the Taycan is where the future starts.