As a former (and current) Prius owner, this Wired piece hits home a bit.
“The pure conquest data show that the Model S is conquesting owners of Toyota vehicles more frequently than owners of any other brand,” said Polk Automotive analyst Tom Libby. “The Prius is at the top of that list, with the Toyota Highlander SUV and Sienna minivan ranking fifth and sixth overall.”
All told, Toyota accounts for 15.51 percent of Model S conquest sales. Mercedes-Benz and BMW follow with a little more than 10 percent apiece. Libby posits that Prius owners want a hybrid or electric vehicle, but want something more luxurious and stylish. The Honda Fit EV, Ford Focus Electric, Fiat 500E, and the Nissan Leaf just don’t cut it. Part of that is the audience: As Libby notes, “Model S buyers are very well-off financially,” and their garages have housed everything from Aston Martins and Bentleys to Ferraris and McLarens.
The Prius is a great gateway drug to pure electric. When the engine turns off and you are driving silently on electric only, it is kind of a fun rush and you game the Prius to try to get as much electric miles as you can. But that also trains the driver to strive for full electric, something that Toyota doesn’t offer and in fact they don’t have plans to offer (besides the Tesla-drivetrain Rav 4E).
Toyota plays off the threat as a high end fringe of customers that they are losing (I imagine Volts and Leafs also take their share). But hopefully they know a perfect storm is brewing. When Model Es come out at a very-Prius like 30K price, look a lot cooler combined with a mature and full Supercharging infrastructure to eliminate range anxiety, there might be a deadly combination.