In news that should drive Tesla short sellers nuts, Tesla has topped Consumer Reports’ Owner Satisfaction Survey, beating out Porsche, Audi and Subaru for 1st place, with 91% of owners stating they would buy another. This follows the Tesla Model S winning “Most Loved Model” in the United States earlier this year, and the Model X winning the Golden Steering Wheel award.
How is it possible Tesla can persist despite the combined might of the world’s car industry and a concerted and surreptitious public relations effort by the petroleum lobby?
Tesla owners really love their Teslas.
Tesla’s first place in the survey is additionally fascinating given CU’s 2015 claim that the Model S P85D was the best car they’d ever tested, followed a few months later by their rescinding their recommendation due to reliability issues. Tesla’s response? A waterfall of software updates and improvements to the assembly line, which led to 2016 being Tesla’s best sales year ever.
The market’s response? Tesla received 400,000 pre-orders for their upcoming Model 3.
The Drive's Liane Yvkoff breaks down the fanatical loyalty of Tesla owners here, but Tesla's ongoing popularity cannot be grasped without considering their broader ecosystem. Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot suite is state-of-the-art and unique in the marketplace. Their growing Supercharger network is unique and free (if you order one before December 31st of this year), and they were the first to market an electric vehicle with nearly 300 miles of range. Add wireless updates and their direct-sales model, and they have locked in a fan base that — once having bought into the ecosystem — has literally no alternative.
Maybe that's why Tesla doesn't need a marketing/advertising budget.
Second place Porsche, with 84% of owners stating they would buy another, makes incredible cars, demonstrating that you can build overwhelming loyalty despite a traditional sales and service experience.
The big surprise are that 3rd place Audi and 4th place Subaru, two brands I’ve owned and loved, come in at 77% and 76%, a big drop from Porsche’s 84% and Tesla’s 91%. The next 14 brands are all in the seventies, suggesting that Tesla and Porsche are nailing loyalty in a way no one else is.
Here’s a guess: brand purity counts. Deliver a unique experience every time, in every model, and owners won’t quibble over minor issues.
Porsche makes sports cars. That’s what they do.
Tesla? They make two of the world’s best luxury sedans and SUVs. They also happen to be electric. And semi-autonomous. And next year, hopefully, they will be self-driving.
Here’s the raw CU chart, covering 300,000 vehicles surveyed between 2014 and 2017:
Now if only my garage in Manhattan would let me install a charger. Until then, I'll stick with my Morgan 3-wheeler.
Alex Roy, entrepreneur, President of Europe By Car, Editor-at-Large for The Drive, and author of The Driver, set the 2007 Transcontinental “Cannonball Run” Record, and has set multiple driving records in Europe & the USA in the EV, 3-wheeler & Semi-Autonomous Classes. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.