I’d always believed that Tesla’s Model S represented a real problem for luxury German automakers because it could easily poach those able to spend 70K or more on a vehicle. I also thought that the lower volume sales of say, a BMW 7 series, meant that Tesla’s initial small sales would be more hurtful than if the company were eating into a car with much larger volume sales like the BMW 3 series.
And while it’s true that Tesla is impacting the luxury Germany automakers it turns out that the number one vehicle owned prior to a Tesla Model S is none other than the Toyota Prius. Wired reports that just under 16 percent of Tesla conquest sales were Toyota Priuses. BMW and Mercedes were each next, clocking in at about 10 percent each.
The Toyota Prius family is the most successful eco-friendly car ever. It sold 234K units last year and the few thousand Model S sales that Tesla took won’t mean much to the automaker. But it is an indicator that there’s a high income group that just wants to buy an environmentally friendly car, regardless of high or low cost. In fact one of the interesting things to me about the Prius was that it was a reasonably priced car that carried high status because it was perceived as being green. In its heyday famous actors were seen in the car.
The Wired story asks which car will be most impacted by the coming SUV, the Model X. Early predictions indicate the Lexus R450h hybrid SUV is most vulnerable. The Model X should be due at the end of this year.