As the world shifts to EV, will Porsche’s turbo-charged Taycan entice Japanese enthusiasts?

Petrol prices in Japan are currently about 6% higher than the start of the year; they’ve actually dropped slightly since February. The prognosis looking forward isn’t good, one report from Trading Economics is forecasting US$1.63/litre in 2023 and $1.74 in 2024.

With these headwinds, and generous Government subsidies for EV buyers (currently JPY650,000 or $5,132) you’d think punters would be beating down showroom doors to buy an EV.

Let’s not jump the gun!

In 2021, EV’s accounted for around 1% of cars sold here. Nissan has been the only Japanese car maker to fully embrace EVs; its Leaf is a common site on the roads.

I’ve just bought an EV and one of my biggest fears was charging. Actually there’s around 22,000 charging spots and some very useful apps to help locate them. One big learning is the KWh from each charger can vary considerably. It pays to do some homework. The bigger your car the more charging required. Take note Porsche.

Tesla is definitely the leader in imported EVs, though unlike most foreign car makers who belong to the Japan Automobile Importers’ association, Tesla opted out, meaning its sales figures aren’t published. Other sources claim Tesla sold over 5,200 cars here in 2021. Judging by what I see on the roads and driveways, that number is going to be far higher in 2022.

Porsche has long had a following in Japan, in the last couple of years they’ve sold just over 7,000 cars a year. They’ve also got a nationwide dealer network, unlike Tesla who just have showrooms in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.

Porsche dealer, Japan

The Taycan is JPY12m ($95,000) according to its website, almost double the Tesla Model 3 performance. It’s being promoted with a ‘Soul, electrified’ campaign, in English. I suspect many Japanese car drivers won’t know what that means. 

I fear charging will be the nemesis for Porsche. It looks like they’re aligning with Chademo, that’s the system used by Nissan and the other Japanese markers.

Japan Chademo charger

You can use Chademo with a Tesla (providing you have an adapter) but the speed is about a third of the supercharger, and ironically it’s more expensive too.

Tesla’s superchargers aren’t omnipresent like in North America but they’re in all the major cities plus strategic locations on the expressway network. The speed is impressive plus there’s no hassles with credit or charge cards. To paraphrase Steve Jobs, “they just work.”

Porsche is said to be introducing its own chargers, but I have yet to see one.

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