Mid-week long read: first in line

Meet the Norwegian Porsche lover at the front of the Taycan queue.

36w ago


A mild summer breeze carries the sound of traffic on the E6 freeway over to Skedsmokorset, 25 km north of Oslo. Erling Henningstad, a 57-year-old software engineer sporting a neatly trimmed beard and a blue checked shirt, walks out onto his veranda and blinks in the bright sunlight. In the courtyard below, for a little while longer, is a Tesla Model S.

Erling is one of the first 20,000 people who expressed formal interest in owning a Porsche Taycan. And now the wait is almost over. He lifts the lid on an inconspicuous aluminium case and carefully removes a 1:10 scale model of a pure white car. He turns it around, inspecting every angle and stopping repeatedly to examine specific details. He smiles, the anticipation written all over his face.

Erling has always dreamed of owning a Porsche. 30 years ago, that dream almost came true in the form of a 911, but there was his family to think about and the need for space won out. That didn’t stop him dreaming, however, and when he spotted the Mission E study in a Norwegian car magazine: “Something immediately clicked,” he recalls.

The Taycan has been available for pre-order here since April of last year and Porsche has received more than 2,700 down payments for the car from Norway alone. One of the first was from Erling. A Porsche with full electric drive was the perfect combination: “I love driving. And I’m a fan of electric drive systems,” he says. He became a fan thanks to his son, Nils-Henrik, the e-pioneer in the Henningstad household. Nils-Henrik’s first car was a lime-green electric Kewet, with a peak speed of 80 km/h.

Today, Norway subsidizes electromobility more than any other country. Since 2012 its e-car buyers have not had to pay either the staggered CO2-based import tax or the 25 per cent sales tax. They pay lower car taxes in general and are exempt from tolls and parking fees. They can also drive in bus and taxi lanes. The results have been astonishing. In March of 2019, the number of newly registered electric cars in Norway exceeded the number of those with petrol or diesel engines for the first time.

Erling took the plunge with the Tesla Model S, driving to his office in Oslo and to go hiking or skiing in the mountains, thanks to the arrival of Norway’s first high-speed charging column in Lillehammer, about half the distance to his own cabin in the Jotunheimen mountains. The family would stop for lunch there and then continue on with a full battery. Only once did they have ‘rekkeviddeangst’, or range anxiety. “We were coming back from the mountains, and the battery actually did have enough power.” But it was 20 degrees below zero and it soon became clear that the remaining charge would not be enough, so the Tesla crept to a gas station with a standard electrical power outlet. “We didn’t get home until after midnight,” Erling recalls. “It wasn’t much fun standing around in freezing weather at a remote gas station, waiting hours for enough power to dribble into the battery.”

Happily it never happened again. At the end of last year Norway had 10,711 public charging stations — for approximately 220,000 electric cars and counting. Nobody is worried that the infrastructure won’t be able to handle the boom either. Most buildings in Norway are heated with electricity, so the grid is correspondingly large and robust. And because buildings need ever lower levels of energy thanks to better design and insulation, the system has sufficient capacity for cars. Most importantly, nearly all electric power in Norway comes from renewable sources and is therefore produced without CO2 emissions.

Erling has not yet determined the exact trim for his Taycan. Like the model, it will probably be white, he says, but that’s of secondary importance. “What I definitely expect from a Porsche is better handling, more reliable performance, and higher quality.”

For his first drive in the Taycan, Erling has already selected a winding country road not far from home. The playlist is also planned out — the Beatles and Dire Straits. Erling holds up his hands as if on a steering wheel, his dream almost close enough to touch. In a matter of weeks, he will be driving his perfect Porsche at last.

Taycan 4S: WLTP combined electrical power consumption 25.6 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions 0 g/km

Taycan Turbo: WLTP combined energy consumption 26.7 - 23.0 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions 0 g/km

Taycan Turbo S: WLTP combined energy consumption 25.7 - 24.5 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions 0 g/km

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