While brand loyalty isn’t expected to be strong in the electric vehicle market, Tesla is bucking that trend.
And on the autonomous vehicle front, Tesla was found to be the “most trusted name” to launch a product in that space, though some concerns are rising.
As the auto industry continues to gauge and respond to the evolution often referred to as “ACES” — autonomous vehicles, connectivity, electrification and shared mobility — Tesla was part of the discussion in two separate analyses released Thursday: a Cars.com study on electric vehicle loyalty and an Autolist.com study on trust in autonomous vehicles, the latter released ahead of Tesla's autonomous demo day scheduled for Monday.
Starting with the Cars.com piece, the company found that nearly two-thirds of Tesla owners plan to remain with the electric vehicle maker. But it found that the rest of the pack could face hurdles with EV brand and model loyalty.
“Most consumers are not tied to a single make or model besides Tesla owners, with 64 percent committed to staying within the brand,” Cars.com said in a news release.
However, while that study showed some concerns among people new to EV shopping, those that do enter the EV market tend to stick with it.
In fact, 95% of current owners of electric vehicles plan on buying electric again, according to a first-quarter Cars.com Driver’s Seat Community consumer panel. That compares to 84% last year.
Further, Cars.com said that, “As trusted brands such as Kia, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche, Audi and Jaguar prepare to launch new mass-market EVs, it's clear the trend toward electric is not going away.”
In the news release, Cars.com editor-in-chief Jenni Newman said: “Our research suggests that once consumers take the plunge into EV ownership, they're happy with their purchase.
“The most appealing aspects of EV ownership cited in the study include the reduced fuel cost/dependency, environmental impact and tax incentives,” she said.
Meanwhile, Cars.com found that non-EV owners found these five to be the “least appealing” facets of those vehicles, respectively:
- Limited range/travel distance
- Limited battery life span
- High initial vehicle price
- Lack of charging/service centers
- Charging times
“When it comes to electric vehicles, range anxiety is a real thing, so we weren't surprised to see that the cars' limited range was a top concern among consumers," Newman said.
“It’s important for car shoppers to know, however, that the top-performing EVs can handle anywhere from 50 to 300 miles between charges, showing they are more than capable of taking drivers wherever they need to go without losing their charge,” she said. “Consumers should worry more about their garage's infrastructure than limited range.”
For more on EV loyalty, read this similar analysis provided by IHS Markit.
Additional EV news and data from Cars.com can be found here.
Tesla still tops in autonomy trust, but slips
On the autonomous vehicle side of the market, Autolist asked consumers which company they would most trust to bring a self-driving car to market.
For the second consecutive year, Tesla led the way.
However, the percent of consumers citing the brand as most-trusted slipped from 32% in 2018 to 24% this year, according to Autolist.
Second-highest on the list was this group of consumers (at 22%): those who don’t trust any brand to bring an autonomous car to market. But a year ago, it was at 27%.
Toyota was third at 18%, up from 15% a year ago, as Autolist noted it being the most often cited “legacy automaker” twice in a row.
General Motors was fourth at 15% and showed the most year-over-year growth (up from 9%). Uber was fifth at 7%, followed by “other,” Volkswagen Group, Lyft and Waymo, respectively, each of which was under 5%.
As for the leader in the clubhouse, Autolist analyst Chase Disher said in the analysis: “Tesla’s reputation as a leader in the autonomous space has taken a hit over the last year.
“While its semi-autonomous Autopilot system has a loyal following and great name recognition, several high-profile crashes and concerns about its driver monitoring system may be eroding the public’s impression of Tesla as a potential leader in the self-driving space.”
Later adding some broader context, Disher noted: “It’s important to remember that currently, no automaker offers a fully autonomous or self-driving vehicle. And the reality is that this tech is likely years away from being ready.”
Autolist surveyed 1,640 current car shoppers early this month for this study.
Story corrected to reflect Tesla's autonomous demo day being Monday.