As many of you know, we’re trying to get an electric shuttle startup (Tesla Shuttle) off the ground in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). We recently held a test ride event to attract customers, perhaps attract investors, and just generally EVangelize. To organize the event, we partnered with a fleet industry magazine, Menadżer Floty. I was surprised to find out that they actually had a Toyota Prius Prime to bring to the event!
In case you’re unaware, the Prius Prime (well, it’s actually called the Prius PHV in Europe) is Toyota’s latest plug-in hybrid version of its popular Prius lineup. It’s one of the top-selling plug-in cars in the United States. It has a fairly small battery, but the battery’s still probably large enough for the car make the vast majority of your trips on electricity. The car is also the top-of-the-line offer in the Prius lineup and has some pretty cool tech. So, it was a little disappointing to discover that the Prime attracted practically no interest from event attendees…
This is also a testament to Tesla’s strong brand and desirability, and just the awesome nature of the Tesla Model S, of course. Approximately 100 people were enthusiastically looking at, riding in, and snapping pictures of the Model S. I didn’t see another person notice the Prius Prime until the very end of the day when Piotr Mikos — Solar PV Specialist and Project Manager at Domy Czystej Energii (Clean Energy Houses) / Centrum Technologii Energetycznych (Centre for Energy Technologies) — poked around the car with me. Neither of us had time to give it a test drive.
The Model S was in use for basically 8 hours or so. We had a list of ~60 people signed up to go on a ride, and plenty of others who wanted to go but didn’t want to wait around for hours after getting on the list late. Our car would go out on a fairly quick loop; amaze the passengers; return; have a little time standing next to the Prius Prime while people got in and out of it, snapped photos of it, and talked about it; and then go out on another trip packed with excited passengers.
Again, this is no hit on the Toyota Prius Prime, which I think is a quite competitive car in its class, but it shows the dramatic fan appeal and brand name of Tesla compared to other companies and cars — including one of the newest and top-selling plug-in cars in the United States.
We get complaints here from time to time — well, yeah, every day — for being Tesla fans. But there’s a reason or 10 why people are so in love with Tesla, so excited about Tesla, and have put down 455,000 reservations for a Tesla Model 3. There’s a reason or 10 why everyone wanted to look at, touch, sit in, and drive our old-ish Tesla Model S 85D but had no interest in the Toyota Prius Prime.
I’m not going to reiterate those benefits now (after doing that so many times), but this “real-world” experience was an interesting one that further conveys to me how loved Tesla cars are, how much people are waiting for the Model 3 (or Model Y), and to what extent the competition struggles to draw the appeal and excitement that Tesla draws.