The epic Nurburgring Nordschleife has been a performance benchmark for decades. Largely unchanged since the 1920s, this 12.9-mile stretch of undulating asphalt is a must-visit destination for any performance car worth its salt. Lately, with the rise of performance-oriented electric cars, the track has earned new significance not just thanks to its difficulty, but its length.
EVs are remarkably good at delivering ridiculous acceleration in short bursts, but sustained performance is a much better test of both battery output and motor cooling. Porsche used the 'Ring to highlight the endurance the new Taycan, which set a time of 7 minutes, 42 seconds. Now, it's facing some potential competition from Tesla -- competition that the company is welcoming with open arms.
"We call ourselves a true sports car manufacturer, and there aren't that many ways to prove that it is a true sports car," Klaus Zellmer, president and CEO of Porsche Cars North America, told me at the on Tuesday. "The Nurburgring is almost like a meter that you use to define where you stand."
The Taycan's 7:42 lap time puts it among very good company, like the C6-generation Corvette ZR1 and the 997-generation Porsche 911 GT3. Last week, Elon Musk indicated that he'd be bringing some new competition to the table, promising a run on the 'Ring in a Tesla Model S. I asked Zellmer for his thoughts about this proposed attempt.
"Anyone who's trying to go there to see how you're doing, we have great respect for. We love the competition," he said. "It's their business. We respect them. They've prepared many markets for electric cars. They probably lowered the bar [of entry] for other markets opening up and for other brands entering the EV space, which is great. And whatever they want to do, if they want to take us up on the Nurburgring Nordschleife, it's their call."
Lately, images have surfaced of a Model S testing on the 'Ring running on sticky, race-compound tires and wearing aerodynamic appendages that Tesla doesn't currently make available. Zellmer doesn't have a problem with this -- so long as the company discloses any modifications. "That's obviously going to limit their relevance of what they've been doing," he added, pointing out that the Taycan lap was performed on a series-production car rolling on series-production tires. "Nothing a customer wouldn't buy," Zellmer said.