Study By Major OEM: Typical Tesla Model 3 Reservation Holders Currently Drive Toyotas

Tesla Model 3


Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 

Tesla Model 3 Interior

Tesla Model 3 Interior 

A major automaker conducted a private study, and the results are astounding. The study showed that someone with a Tesla Model 3 reservation is doubly as likely to be a current Toyota owner, than any other brand.

If this is substantiated, then Tesla has succeeded in convincing the “masses” to move to its brand, with the new, less expensive offering. Upwards of 400,000 people have placed a reservation on the vehicle, and its upcoming production and delivery will mark a historic turning point for the adoption of electric vehicles.

Generally, Tesla owners fall in the higher income bracket, and come from the likes of brands such as BMW and Audi. Other brands that were noted in the study, as those owned by soon-to-be Model 3 buyers, were Chevrolet and Ford. Current owners of Nissan, Cadillac, and Lexus vehicles showed little to no interest in Tesla’s much anticipated car.

Unfortunately, the major automaker that carried out the study, has requested that it be kept confidential. A Forbes research partner and blogger, by the name of Ed Niedermeyer, was able to secure the study results, as long as he agreed not to disclose the source.

The study revealed that Tesla Model 3 reservation holders sit in the $50,000 to $100,000 income bracket. They were said to like the company and the car due to its CEO, Elon Musk, touting visionary status. The respondents also appreciated the trendy “iPhone-like” launch events. Though they aren’t rich, they enjoy the idea of the Tesla brand making them feel and look like celebrities.

Forbes fears that the Toyota demographic has expectations that may be difficult for Tesla to meet. Toyota owners are used to no frills, faithful reliability, and multiple dealerships close to home, providing quick sales and service. J.D. Power considers one hour as the “magic number” for wait time at a dealership, and Toyota tends to hit the mark. According to Automotive News, for Tesla to achieve Model 3 and Y targets:

“Tesla will need as broad a retail and service network as it can assemble.”

The more affluent don’t need to worry that their $1,000 deposit is tied up for a number of years. But, the middle class may be worrying about doctor bills, or any myriad of other life expenses, well before their Model 3 is even close to its delivery date.

For these reasons, the undisclosed industry source said of the study:

“Let them go to Tesla, they will be back in short order.”

When Elon Musk was asked at the recent quarterly earnings call, if there was an update on reservation numbers or cancellations for the Model 3, he replied:

“We don’t report that number, because people read too much into it.”

One can just as easily say that people read too much into these studies as well. An 800 person study doesn’t really give us the bigger picture, and so much is yet to be seen. However, it’s always enlightening to give it a good read.

Source: Forbes

Categories: Tesla

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74 Comments on "Study By Major OEM: Typical Tesla Model 3 Reservation Holders Currently Drive Toyotas"

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I guess it makes sense that they mostly drive Toyotas, as (when not counting pick-up trucks) Toyota is selling the most cars in the US…

Reservations are disproportionately from California. Toyota has 20% market share in CA vs 10% for GM and Ford.

Also a disproportionately high number of reservations come from current Prius owners.

This was also the case for Model S. The highest trade in car was a a Prius.

It doesn’t really tell us what the conquest buyers will come from in 2019 or 2020. These are just the early adopters.

EXACTLY! There is nothing surprising about this.

Excellent point.

M3 reservation holders want the most green affordable car.

They previously went for the Prius, but the most advanced car will now be the M3, so they will go for that.

They are not Toyota customers, they are green car customers.

I bet more current EV owners have reservations than Prius owners.

I’m a M3 res. holder and I own a Leaf and a Prius, I also do not live in Cali.

Tesla needs to focus on quality and reliability. I think that two or three months between production in June and general sales in September is too short. They should spend 6 months testing the hell out of production cars (not prototypes) before selling any.

I, too, would like to see more product testing by Tesla before releasing it to the market place. It does seem like things are being rushed.

My expertise is not the auto industry. However, it seems like they should run several prototypes up to 150,000 miles (or more) and see “what breaks” along the way. Ope and close the doors several 1000 times. That would give them a good idea of where the warranty risks are.

By occupation I’m an electronics engineer who has worked in very high volume consumer electronics (printers) and also medical electronics. In both of those industries extensive product testing before production release is critical.

They probably have prototypes at 150,000 miles already.

Also, computer modeling.

Than you should know that the subsystems are contracted out. And they’re being tested now. Not in that 3 month window.

Roy — Initial production begins in July at the earliest, not June. Parts aren’t scheduled to arrive until the first week of July at the earliest.

The first time you said June, I thought is was just a typo. Why do you keep saying June?

Also, Pilot production of Beta candidates started Feb 20th.

I currently drive a Leaf……although a fine care — I can’t wait for the upgrade!!

Toyota owners often site reliability as a significant factor in their purchase.
Model S / X owners are known to have above average tolerance of issues (early adopters) so they are not used to backlash over issues.
So…. what happens if Tesla rushes the Model 3 and sells it to Toyota crowd?

Not much. The first few months of manufacturing are going to employees and existing Tesla owners. Let’s not forget they did a production test run last month.

If Model S owners are tolerant, as you say, than as former Toyota owners they have evidently changed.

Remember the competition.
GM’s Volt now, with a new CEO and no focus on the Volt, now has “Much Worse Than Average” Reliability.

So, you’ve got a Prius or a Volt to choose from.
And you’ve got a reliability scale of 1 to 5, with the Volt at 1 and the Prius at 5. What’s the decision making process???

Ms. Barra, respectfully, needs to get back on the ball with the Volt. Not only it’s reliability, but they’ve needed a Wagon Version with more headroom and legroom since the initial launch.

American’s don’t have enough Vacation Days to babe sit a Volt at the dealership for repairs.

“So…. what happens if Tesla rushes the Model 3 and sells it to Toyota crowd?”

If Tesla car owners come disproportionately from former Prius owners, as Rob Stark posted above (and without researching the question, I would guess that’s correct), then this is what is already happening with the Models S and X.

It’s been noted by many that Tesla car buyers tend to be more tolerant of defects in new models. What all too many ignore is that Tesla car buyers self-select for this attitude. It’s not like most of them are taken unaware that Tesla is a new car company with growing pains.

Let’s remember that despite Tesla selling early production units which have a lot of problems which haven’t been worked out, Tesla car owners still have the highest customer satisfaction rating of any auto maker, according to Consumer Reports.

Let’s also remember that while reliability is important, it’s not everything, not by a wide margin. If it was, then Tesla wouldn’t be anywhere near first in customer satisfaction. Obviously most Tesla owners find other qualities to be more important.

Income range $50K – $100K.
Model 3 price (SWAG) $40K-$80K.

I wonder how many people actually spend up to 80% of one year’s *gross* income (100% of net income?) on a car?

Makes the reservations (or study report) seem suspect.

An income range of $75K to $150K would seem more genuine.

Brian, I agree that typical pricing on a Model 3 will likely be $40k and up. Elon Musk stated that he expects the average price of a Model 3 will be about $42k.

It is possible that there are a number of people who will not commit to purchase when the time comes, but all of those reservation holders have one thing in common, they ALL paid Tesla $1000 (ignores small differences for currency exchange rates) for the spot in line. That has to be worth something.

There are quite a lot of vehicles in this price range that sell in big numbers annually in the USofA. The eco-friendly crowd (not average buyers) will also look toward long term savings from no fossil fuels required and less maintenance.

I don’t find it at all difficult to imagine a person making $40k/year buying a $20k car. That’s why financing exists.

Sorry, for some reason I thought you said “50% of gross income,” not 80%.

Still, I don’t think it’s that crazy for someone making $50k/year to buy a $40k car (or especially: truck), provided you have a trade-in. I wouldn’t say it’s a good idea, but I think it’s not uncommon.

That price range is not remotely realistic. $35K to $55 may be more likely based on current options pricing, but that would only be if you selected the largest available battery pack (at this point unknown), and every other option including full self driving mode.

Yup. Elon estimated $42k as the average sale price. “40k – 80k” appears to be a very inflated estimate.

That’s not to say that Elon’s estimate has to be precisely correct, but Elon has access to data that nobody here does. His estimate is based on actual facts; those of us posting here can only make WAGs (Wild-Arsed Guesses).

Brian, Americans love to borrow and spend government money but don’t like paying it back or like paying taxes to keep America great.

$45,000 is $6,500 a year for 7 years, plus interest.
So, it’s not 80% of one years income.

Note that there is a significant difference between holding a refundable reservation and being a Tesla owner.

This article immediately brings to mind one particular commenter who always insists that EVs would be affordable and ubiquitous if only the automakers tried, and how cars like the Volt are just gas guzzlers in sheep’s clothing. And this commenter drives a Toyota Prius.

I anticipate that many of these reservation holders, when it comes time to put your money where your mouth is, will find some flaw in the Model III (not enough trunk space! no hatchback!) and will use that as their excuse to keep driving their comfortable ICE.


I find it inexplicable that so many keep harping about the fact that some Model 3 reservation holders will cancel their reservation.

Yes, and so what? A couple of years ago or so, it was reported that about 25% of Model S reservation holders cancelled their reservations. Again, so what?

The important figure isn’t how many reservations are cancelled, or not. The important figure is how fast reservations (and eventually, orders) come in despite the inevitable cancellations.

I bet the OEM that commissioned the study was Toyota.

As out of the major players, they would have the most to lose by people “defecting” to Tesla.

I had that suspicion, too, when I read the Forbes article few days ago. While Toyota owners were interested, the point of the article was that they may not be happy with Tesla due to lack of reliability and long wait times at service centers. Implied point was to educate Toyota owners about “horrors” of Tesla.

I’d like to see the study – to determine validity. For eg. How did they get the list of reservation holders without Tesla help ? Are the Toyota owners basically Prius owners (would make sense) ?

Thank you.

Personally, I don’t give any weight whatsoever to this report, because it’s completely lacking in any details about how the questions in the survey were worded, or what the methodology was.

Absent those details, we have no context in which to judge how relevant or irrelevant the survey results might be.

And sadly, that’s all too typical of news reports on surveys aimed at general audiences. I know we aren’t all statistics experts — heck, I’m very far from that myself — but there is a very important difference between a survey that has scientific, statistical validity, and one that does not.

A few years ago, a study found that the #1 conquest car for the Tesla Model S was the Toyota Prius. This was contrary to the assumption that affluent Model S buyers mostly come from luxury cars.

Many Model S buyers say that their Model S is by far the most expensive car they ever purchased.

In my case, my daily driver before my $90K Model S was a $23K VW Jetta diesel (which I sold back to VW in December).

If the Model 3 had been available in 2013, I probably would have bought that instead of a Model S.

It makes sense that obviously most reservation holders are middle class income people and therefore coming from mainstream brands like Toyota, Honda, Ford, Chevy, etc.

However, I would take any “anal-ysis” from Niedermeyer with a big grain of salt.

He is after all the idealogical brother of Bertel Schitt from the notorious anti-Tesla “The Truth about Cars”/”Tesla Death Watch” sites they both worked on/promoted.

These sites pushed thoroughly discredited assertions to support their idealogical hatred regarding Tesla like the Faux widespread Tesla “Suspension Failure” scandal that was completely made up by some fake news guy in Australia of all places!

Dude, your tin foil hat in on way too tight. This is just another loony conspiracy theory by a Tesla fanboi. The Truth About Cars was an independent auto news website that wasn’t beholden to automaker advertising dollars, and sought to give readers the straight dope about automakers and auto news. They were known for running a “Death Watch” series of articles on auto companies that are in financial trouble and headed toward bankruptcy. The “GM Deathwatch” was the most prominent of the series, and correctly predicted GM’s bankruptcy. During the same time period there was also the “Chrysler Deathwatch,” years later a “Tesla Deathwatch,” and more recently a “Suzuki Deathwatch.” Both Chrysler and Suzuki filed for bankruptcy, while Tesla was days away from insolvency when Elon went to Google and shook hands with CEO Larry Page on a deal to sell Tesla to Google. But Tesla’s financial fortunes quickly turned around and Elon scuttled the deal. So all four of these automakers were having huge financial problems, and three of them went insolvent and filed for bankruptcy, while the fourth, Tesla, was a hairs breath away from bankruptcy before turning it around. That sounds like good journalism to me,… Read more »

Hey, sven is actually posting under his username instead of some made up new usernames!

Another lame attempt in any case by sven to through in some diversions away from my facts regarding Neidermeyer and his consistent anti-Tesla bias (ring a bell, sven?).

Made up new usernames? Dude, stop it with the conspiracy theories already. Paranoia is usually a sign on underlying mental problems. Just sayin’.

The gist of the previous Niedermeyer article was that Tesla was requiring owners to sign Nondisclosure Agreements when performing goodwill repairs, which on their face prohibit the owner from reporting any potential safety defects/issues to NHTSA or even discussing the issue/problems publicly or privately with anyone. After the story was published, Elon under public pressure said Tesla will no longer require owners to sign Nondisclosure Agreements when Tesla performs goodwill repairs.

But Tesla didn’t learn its lesson. A couple of months later, it was revealed that Tesla also required owners to sign Nondisclosure Agreements when they Lemon Lawed their defective Tesla’s. This is illegal and unenforceable in most states.

It’s common practice in Ts & Cs to use a legal sledgehammer. It saves all the effort of figuring all the potential loopholes and all the stuff that’s unenforceable.

Sven is Edward Neidermeyer.

Neidermeyer is German for “royal pain in the ass”.

The Truth About Cars was an independent auto news website that wasn’t beholden to automaker advertising dollars, and sought to give readers the straight dope about automakers and auto news. They were known for running a “Death Watch” series of articles on auto companies that are in financial trouble and headed toward bankruptcy.

I don’t particularly care how accurate or inaccurate were the other “Death Watch” blog posts from automobile industry bashing website “The Truth about Cars” (even the name is a lie!). From the few times I held my nose and read anything on TTAC, it seemed they were quite willing to tar all automakers with the same brush.

However, the “Tesla Death Watch” series was particularly egregious and especially untruthful, because it did indeed repeat fact-free anti-Tesla FUD posted elsewhere on the Internet. And repeated it quite often.

But it’s no surprise to see Sven, who’s a serial anti-Tesla FUDster, defending another serial anti-Tesla FUDster. The Tesla haters make it easy for everyone to identify them, because they are the only ones who post comments supporting each other’s FUD, half-truths, and lies.

Edit: The first paragraph in my post above should be in quotes; it was quoted from Sven’s prior post.

@Get Real: Agreed. Mr Niedermeyer has had an axe to grind with Tesla for years.

I wonder if this study was commissioned by Toyota themselves (no EVs on offer), or General Motors (extensive dealer network with the Bolt EV).

Get Real said:

“However, I would take any ‘anal-ysis’ from Niedermeyer with a big grain of salt.”

Thanks for pointing this out! I skimmed the article too fast, and didn’t notice the association with the Internet’s #1 Tesla basher.

It’s troubling that InsideEVs would publish an article originating from a partner of the contemptible serial liar and attempted stock manipulator Edward Niedermeyer, without at least putting a strong disclaimer in the article!

Prius owners are going electric? Not surprised.

Given that something like 80 or 90% of Model 3 reservation holders are not previous Tesla customers, seems logical that they would be mostly Toyota owners seeing as Toyota are probably the most popular EV/hybrid type car.

who is ‘waiting’ for a dealer network?..nobody likes their coffee!

I actually like the coffee at my dealer. It’s not worth 4 hours trip there (30 min each way, 3 hours waiting), but definitely as good or better than Starbucks.

Well I am a snobby european and we have a different standard of taste for coffee (and food in general 😉 )

Toyota should be kicking themselves from here to next week for not developing a compelling ev. So Tesla can sop up customers from Toyota, who certainly are not going to buy the Murai.


They’d be kicking themselves, if they did. Toyota gains more on the fumes of HSD, than they lose on hydrogen and lack of an EV.

I have no 50 k $ income, so no reservation…need a cheap Leaf 2 leasing deal.

I’m a Toyota Prius, and Nissan Leaf owner, and am waiting anxiously for M3 to arrive.

For what it’s worth the Facebook Tesla Model 3 group has a recent poll and Toyota is the top currently owned car, followed by VW, Honda, and BMW.

I for one am very surprised by the results of the poll, ’cause it’s very hard to find any Toyota owner not loyal to the brand. When Toyota owners jump the ship and choose a Tesla over their truly thrifty and above average reliable Toyota, then we can only congratulate Tesla on such an achievement. The sweet thing about Model 3 is whether it can hit 390 mile mark, suspect many Toyota, Audi and VW owners are siiting on the fence. If Tesla do exactly that , than the three would lose much larger portion of customer base than predicted, up to Tesla to make a move.

“Hit the 390 mile mark”? Wait, what? 300 would be the number and I don’t think the Model 3 will ever get there because of the length of the wheel base. THe best that the S or X get is 315 and I wouldn’t call that real world.


RE: Toyota loyalty
They have the hard numbers, but I believe many who went Prius actually weren’t Toyota loyalists, but wanted the car that had the head & shoulders highest mpg’s. Less surprised they’d split, for Tesla.

Model S owners were huge Prius owners too.

The Prius is the #1 car in California which is Tesla’s #1 market.

Wow, people that don’t want to burn much gas like Tesla! Shocking!

How is this at all surprising?

“The Prius is the #1 car in California which is Tesla’s #1 market.”

Not anymore, haven’t since 2012/2013 when gas was $4.50/gallon.

In fact, Prius sales are currently about 1/2 what it was during its peak days.

You can bet Toyota will be touting its reliability of its cars and the strength of its dealer service when the model 3 rolls out. They have every right to it’s a valid point. As a Toyota owner and fan I have concerns about Teslas reliability , I also have 2 model 3 reservations. I also believe I was a participant in the survey.

I believe you mean Toyota’s former quality. Toyota’s today aren’t what they used to be. Had to reseal a timing valve cover at 80k miles at the cheap cost of $2k.

The sevice tech told me “well,ya know 80k miles is a lot of miles, something is bound to break by then”. Should be Toyota’s new advertising campaign. Looking up on-line and it’s a problem with a lot of Toyota’s of today. They basically glue up where the engine meets and no shock over time it goes bad and oil leaks out. Something a $5 gasket probably would have avoided…

Not one of the Model 3 reservation holders I know drive a Toyota.

But ya, like others have said a ton of people are in CA and Toyota has a huge foothold on the car segment here.

If/when they come out with a truck it’d be like them saying “most Tesla truck res holders previously owned a F-150″…

The Tesla service center experience is a bit difficult to grasp.
Anecdotal it is the worst in the business.
Statistical it is the best in the business.
Reality will be somewhere in between, but I bet always on the statistics.

Go back a decade, and if you were talking about green cars, you were probably talking about Toyota. The two were virtually synonymous. Toyota owned the green car mass market segment with a massive lead over all other car companies.

When GM came up with the idea of the Volt, Bob Lutz sold it as a Toyota killer, designed to leapfrog the Prius. Because Toyota was the one to beat in the green car sector.

How quickly the mighty have fallen.

I wonder what Percentage of Toyota owners that are on the list are not driving a Prius? I am at nearly 280k on the old celica and it has had 100% dispatch reliability

It seems like there should be some old Toyota Fremont workers that can show them how to get reliability up.

I hope they boost the warranty to give people confidence.

$50,000 income should not even think about a new model 3.

Nope. They need to be more towards the middle of that $50k-100K range from the story. Which is actually more like the median new car buyer, who makes $65-70K/yr and spends $30-35K on average on a new car.

So $50K would fall short of what ICE buyers could spend for a similarly priced ICE car too. Buying an EV isn’t going to magically fix that.

Folks with $50K/yr of income will have to do what typical ICE buyers do at that income level. They will need to wait and buy a nice CPO Tesla, the same as they would typically buy a nice CPO ICE car at that level of income.

That’s bull, buying a first gen LEAF saved me money.

Toyota drivers (especially Prius drivers) are often slow drivers in my neighborhood. Hopefully they won’t clog up fast lanes with their Model 3s..

I have two reservations, owned a LEAF, leased a Volt, leasing two Soul EVs never owned a Toyota.

Hence why I call it that very few actual consumers will ever get their hands on a Model 3 before 2017 comes to a close.

While the production car is build in July, since it is such a high volume car Tesla can’t do what they did with the Model S & Model X and not expect Mr. Average Joe & Mrs. Average Jane to go running back to stores & Tesla service centers once things start failing. GM & FCA is large enough to take this punishment and brush it off, but not cash-strapped Tesla.

The best suggestion is to delay launch until 2018 and spend the rest of late 2017 putting hundred thousand miles on the initial prototypes, abusing the car like any non-car person would do like any Accord or Camry. After making sure it is as reliable as any Toyota, this is how Tesla won’t collapse from class action lawsuits & never-ending warranty claims.

“Let them go to Tesla, they will be back in short order.”

Wishful thinking.
They’ve had 100’s of reasons Tesla was going to fail.
They’ve all been wrong.