Tesla Motors sold 22,477 Model S sedans last year. As you’d imagine, many of the people buying the super-luxe car owned German vehicles before going electric. But many more of them owned a Toyota Prius.
Al Pace was among them. Pace, a real estate developer from Palo Alto, California, was a longtime fan of the little hybrid that could. He’d owned two of them in the six years before buying his Pearl White Model S P85. He loved the Prius, but kept a close eye on Tesla as it launched the Model S. He placed a deposit and rescinded it, twice, before pulling the trigger early last year.
“Two things served as a catalyst for me to get over the hump,” Pace tells WIRED. “I needed something larger, and about that time, Elon Musk made the commitment to back it financially.” That was the clincher and he couldn’t be happier.
“I’ve been the beneficiary of a number of nice cars over the years, but I like [the Model S] more and more,” says Pace. “It gets better as I drive it. There’s this ongoing subtle reveal of nuanced engineering. It’s a kind of automotive strip tease.”
Pace is a typical Tesla customer. Most of Teslas’ conquest sales–sales made to customers who previously owned another brand–are from Toyota, according to Polk Automotive. Of those, Prius defectors lead the pack.