Toyota and Honda owners are defecting to Tesla

Toyota and Honda owners are defecting to Tesla

Tesla is siphoning customers away from Honda and Toyota, according to a new study released this week by S&P Global Mobility.

Among EV makers, Tesla remains in another league when it comes to attracting and keeping new customers. The Tesla Model Y has a 60.5% brand loyalty rate in the U.S., and nearly 74% of buyers are coveted conquest sales that come from outside the brand. 

The effect seems more pronounced for Honda and Toyota though, with nearly 29% of Tesla buyers coming directly from one of those brands, according to the study.

2023 Honda Civic

This trend affects some of the two Japanese automakers’ most popular models. The top five Model Y conquests are the Lexus RX (from Toyota’s luxury brand), Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Honda Odyssey, and Honda Accord. The top five Tesla Model 3 conquests are the Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Toyota RAV4, and Honda CR-V, the study said.

Owners of both brands have long been considered to have the most brand loyalty. But a lack of EV offerings is starting to hurt these brands in measurable ways, these results suggest.

The Model 3 and Model Y combined also represent 56% of EV registrations, according to the study. Other than the Model 3 and Model Y, no single EV model achieved U.S. registrations above 30,000 units through the first three quarters of 2022. Results showed that the Ford Mustang Mach-E came close, with 27,800 registrations, making Ford the second-bestselling EV brand in the U.S.

2023 Toyota bZ4X Limited AWD

2023 Toyota bZ4X Limited AWD

This doesn’t leave much room for non-Tesla EVs, but that could change as EV adoption grows, the study’s authors said. There is significant room for growth in affordable EVs, which is an area Tesla doesn’t currently cover.

Toyota and Honda don’t seem prepared to exploit that opportunity to reconquest sales from Tesla, though. The 2023 Toyota bZ4X has a $43,215 base price and is being marketed in the U.S. as a niche vehicle. Production is even lower than intended due to an issue in which wheels were falling off (a fix has been identified). Toyota has reportedly paused its EV development, as it considers more of a mass-market push, but that will take time to implement.

2024 Honda Prologue

2024 Honda Prologue

Honda’s Prologue EV due in 2024 won’t even be offered in all U.S. states, and is only targeted for 70,000 units a year—less than a tenth the output of the Model Y.

So far, few automakers have had much luck conquesting Tesla owners, though. Jaguar tried with the rollout of the Jaguar I-Pace, when the British brand offered a $3,000 incentive specific to those driving a Tesla.

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