Elon Musk challenged Porsche to a race on its home turf — but so far, Tesla hasn't booked the track

Key Points
  • Porsche unveiled its first pure battery electric vehicle, the Taycan, to great fanfare this week.
  • In response to the Taycan's debut, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took digs at Porsche parent company Volkswagen Group on Twitter.
  • Musk claimed he would send a Model S to a famed race track, ostensibly to prove it performs better than the Taycan there.
Taycan Turbo
Source: Porsche

Porsche unveiled its first pure battery electric vehicle, the Taycan, to great fanfare with events in Europe, Asia and North America this week. Tesla CEO Elon Musk was quick to remark on the company's — and the vehicle's — shortcomings on Twitter, where he has more than 25 million followers.

"In close traffic, poisonous gas spewing from the car in front of you goes straight into your AC intake. Good thing gas/diesel carmakers didn't cheat on their emissions or we'd be in real trouble," Musk wrote, punctuating the tweet with an emoji.

Tweet 1

In the scandal (which came to light in 2014) Volkswagen had installed "defeat devices," on more than a half-million diesel cars in the U.S., and more than 10 million others worldwide, including models from Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche, which made the cars appear to comply with environmental regulations. In fact those cars were emitting more air pollutants than federal limits would allow in the US. These pollutants are linked to lung cancer.

On Thursday, Musk disrespected Porsche's use of the phrase "turbo" to describe a variant of the Taycan.

Tweet 2.1

Turbo chargers give internal combustion engines more horsepower without adding much weight to the vehicle. But Porsche is using "turbo" to designate a faster version of their electric vehicle.

Musk also challenged Porsche to a duel on its home turf in Germany, with a tweet saying, "Model S on Nürburgring next week."

Tweet 2.2

The famed track at Nordschleife, sometimes referred to as the "Green Hell" or "the Ring" features challenging inclines, turns and road surfaces that serve as a testing ground for vehicles and drivers.

The notion that Tesla might take its latest Model S there to make an official record attempt stirred excitement among fans of both automakers. Ars Technica reported that "a Model S was track-prepped in California and arrived on the ground in Germany on Monday."

However, a lap there is not likely to happen — at least within the timeframe that Musk said it would.

Road & Track reported that a representative for the German track said Tesla had not sent a record request, or rented an exclusive time slot at Nordschleife, which is otherwise booked for the season.

CNBC asked Tesla for details about when the company may send a Model S to Nürburgring, who would drive it, and what the exact specifications and modifications may be to the car. Tesla did not respond to requests for any of that information or a comment on Musk's tweet.

Auto critics enumerated the differences between the cars earlier this week. In general, reviews said that Model S has advantages in range, efficiency, acceleration, the Tesla supercharger network and price. Reviews lauded the Taycan for performance on the track, braking and suspension, craftsmanship, and predicted the Porsche service network would be an asset to drivers.

The Taycan Turbo starts at $150,900, while the more powerful Taycan Turbo S will enter the market at $185,000 — both far higher than the most expensive Tesla Model S, which can top out at just over $100,000.

Elon Musk has a history of making grand promises on behalf of Tesla, and missing his own self-imposed deadlines. For example, in 2016 he promised a cross-country demonstration of Tesla's fully self driving vehicles by the end of 2017. The CEO has not yet delivered on that ambition.

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