Tesla is starting to gain some serious traction in the EV market, and it’s not going unnoticed. EV trailblazer, Toyota, is starting to feel the heat as consumer loyalty begins to shift from the homely Pirus to the supremely-stylish aesthetics of the Tesla brand. But is anyone surprised?
A January article of Electrek reported that Toyota North America CEO, Jim Lentz, is well aware of the problem. Toyota is seeing a defection rate of 9% – nine percent of buyers are eventually withdrawing their Prius support in favor of other automobiles. Half of this, according to Lentz, is a direct result of Tesla’s market presence.
Electrek goes on to confirm that the Toyota Prius is the number-one trade-in when customers walk out of the dealership with a new Model 3. Although the Toyota Prius is sharing high defection rates with the BMW 3-Series, the Honda Accord, the Civic, and the Nissan Leaf; the Japanese automaker should probably be on higher alert than BMW and the other two manufacturers combined.
If you’re trading in a 3-Series for an all-electric car, you’re clearly doing it with intent and purpose; the shift from gasoline to EV (or even a hybrid) is a conscious and deliberate decision. Whether you’re in it for the fuel savings or the environmental benefits, you make the shift with purpose.
But it’s a whole different story when one EV is losing sales to another. The decision has already been made to go electric, and now, a secondary decision is made to ditch one in favor of the other. This obviously indicates an increased interest in some of the more attractive offerings that can be found on in the Tesla lineup.
They say that beauty is only skin deep (and subjective, by nature), but you can’t really compare the Model 3 to the Prius without acknowledging the completely different design methodology of the two cars.
The Prius was a testbed of technology to see what a hybrid can really do (and if it could thrive). It gave us outstanding fuel mileage, acceptable operating characteristics (depending on whom you ask), and sold enough to more-than prove its worth.
More from Art of Gears
- 3 Reasons the 2024 Mazda CX-50 Is Among the Best Small SUVs
- The Jeep Renegade Is Discontinued: Here’s a Look at Its Legacy
- 2023 Nissan Armada: A Decent Full Size SUV With 1 Glaring Issue
- Best Minivans: 3 Options for Families With Solid Performance
- Here’s Why the 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E Is So Popular
But the Model 3 steps up where the Prius was just too timid to venture – and that’s why the relatively new “tech” company, Tesla, is killing it in the uproar of the technology shift. They make cool, sporty, powerful examples of respectable-looking automobiles, and stay in touch with an innate consumer emotion that Toyota completely missed – “looking cool.”
Sure, it’s a silly observation, at first glance. But to deny that there is an overwhelming social pressure to “keep up with the Joneses,” (especially in today’s contemporary society), would be to deny a fundamental component of human nature.
Tesla nailed a consumer demand to look cool, and go respectably fast while doing so; the only effort we’ve seen from the Prius to satisfy these primal urges, thus far, is a $28,000 “Prime” model that laughably features Bugatti Chrion-style headlamps as a sales gimmick.
In Closing: We can bag on the Prius for days (for everything that it never tried to be). But, for what it intended to be, it was a perfect little car. It just sucks in comparison to what we could refer to as “the next generation” of electric vehicles.
It’s not like they can’t build an awesome car, either. Toyota participates in top-level racing events all over the world. From LMP1 GT prototypes and Formula 1s, to NASCAR and the NHRA – Toyota knows what they’re doing; they can definitely build a fast car. They just won’t build one for you.