Buyers driving home Tesla Model 3s are moving up.
In its second-quarter earnings call Wednesday, Tesla executives revealed the top five cars they have taken in on trade for new Model 3s and the results were unexpected.
Rather than other entry-level luxury sedans that form the Model 3s competition, four of the top five cars that the startup automaker took on trade were ordinary sedans or other "green" cars.
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In order of the most to least frequent, the top trades from Model 3 buyers were the:
- BMW 3-series
- Honda Accord
- Honda Civic
- Nissan Leaf
It makes sense that electric car devotees driving Nissan Leafs are looking to move up to a more capable, luxurious, longer range car. As the first electric car on the market, the Leaf attracted buyers who had made a commitment to reduce emissions and petroleum consumption who probably could have afforded a more expensive car.
The Prius falls in the same category and may have catered to buyers who had longer distances to drive than the Leaf could muster. The long-range Model 3 may have no problem going the distance with its 310-mile range. Long range versions are the only Model 3s Tesla has built so far.
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As the standard-bearer of entry-level luxury cars, the BMW 3-series on the list indicates that the Model 3 may be capturing its intended buyers, winning over traditional luxury-car buyers with its technology, performance, and comfort. After the Tesla Model S quickly became a bestselling luxury sedan after its debut, other luxury automakers scrambled to develop their own electric cars.
2017 BMW 3-Series
An Audi executive said that company was working to build electric cars because Tesla had taken over the German automakers' reputation for innovation by building attractive, compelling all-electric luxury cars.
That the Model 3 could repeat the same performance against lower-priced luxury cars represents some of these automakers' worst fears.
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The surprising cars on the list for many are the Honda Accord and especially the Honda Civic.
Buyers trading in Civics and Accords, especially on higher-end Model 3s that start at almost $50,000, indicates Tesla may have succeeded in its mission to build an electric car for the masses with the Model 3 even before it begins building base, $35,000 versions of the car.
That could be a positive sign for the Model 3's and Tesla's success.