The Toyota Prius has been the perennial best seller for green-minded drivers, but the Tesla Model S is stealing buyers from Japanese hybrid. So even though many Tesla buyers come from German luxury brands, the Model S is attracting most of its customers from Toyota.
As a new brand, Tesla has to pull from a pool of established buyers, and Toyota is one of the top-three best-selling car brands around the world every year. But the natural competitors from the Tesla Model S are built by brands like Mercedes and BMW, which make up 10.6% and 10.2% of Tesla sales, respectively. This has helped Tesla sales climb ahead of these old luxury marques in progressive places like California.
But former Toyota owners make up 15.5% of Tesla Model S buyers, and many of those buyers traded in cars like the Toyota Prius, a distinctly non-luxury vehicle. The lack of green luxury cars has made the Prius a default favorite for many Silicon Valley types, but the Model S (and upcoming Model X SUV) are giving buyers a more luxurious alternative…even though Tesla buyers and Prius buyers seem to have little in common.
While Model S sales don’t yet threaten the domination of the Prius, the upcoming Tesla Model E could be a potentially disruptive force. With a MSRP aimed at around $35,000, it won’t cost that much more than a fully-loaded Prius. After a decade of staying ahead of major automakers, could the Prius really be taken down by Tesla?