Published on March 21st, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro


Toyota Prius Buyers Hop Into Tesla Model S’s

March 21st, 2014 by  

Originally published on Gas 2.


The Toyota Prius has been the perennial best seller for green-minded drivers, but the Tesla Model S is stealing buyers from the Japanese hybrid. 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?

Source: Wired

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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Here’s the January/February sales totals for hybrids, PHEVs and EVs for the last few years.

    This year hybrid sales are down far more than EV/PHEV sales are up. EV/PHEV sales are showing a nice year to year gain, but not as much as hybrids have sagged.

    More efficient ICEVs? Drooping gasoline prices?

  • The Polk blog post you link to makes a point to mention that the Tesla Model S is stealing far more sales from exotics than it is from the Prius. I think the headline is a bit misleading as a result.

  • Edward

    There is also the fact that a number of people able to afford luxury vehicles bought hybrids in California for the HOV stickers (ie. a Prius, when other models weren’t really available), which are no longer valid; however, fully electric cars do offer that benefit.

  • Nyankana

    In just a short amount of time, the road will be dominated by Tesla motors. Tesla will no longer be defined as “luxury vehicle”.

  • Matt

    As a owner of a Prius, I would make two observations.
    (1) Prius could use a major upgrade
    (2) The Tesla X will take a bite, but when the E (Sexy) comes out then the move will be one. Well I guess that will in the end depend on cost/range/time.

  • “After a decade of staying ahead of major automakers, could the Prius really be taken down by Tesla?”


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