Global survey finds Tesla leading with highest electric vehicle brand awareness of any automaker

A new survey by German-based Dalia Research* asked consumers around the world about their transportation habits, with a special focus on their attitudes toward electric vehicles. Some of the results are a bit surprising, but the main impression is not: the general public is still confused about how electric vehicles (EVs) work, what models are available, etc. Automakers have a tremendous amount of work to do educating the public about EVs.


Instagram: tatjanaabigail

There have been a number of surveys of this kind, but almost all have focused on top EV markets such as the US, Norway, the Netherlands and China. The Dalia survey covers 52 countries, including the ones where EVs are common sights, some where they are just beginning to appear (Australia, Mexico, India) and others where there are presumably few or no EVs at all (Algeria, Colombia, Kenya).

Dalia asked a representative sample of adults (ages 14-65) questions about how they drive: the lengths of their typical commutes (Israelis say they have the longest, at 97 minutes, while the Japanese have the shortest, at 39 minutes); their reasons for driving instead of taking public transport (it’s more comfortable, and faster); and what they hate most about transportation (surprise, surprise - wasting time in traffic).

Among respondents who plan to buy a car in the next 5 years, an impressive 40% said they are likely to buy an all-electric model. Unfortunately, the summary of Dalia’s study didn’t break this figure down by country, but it is either extremely promising or extremely puzzling when you consider that a substantial number of the respondents live in countries where there are currently few or no EVs available for sale.

Source: Dalia Research*

Dalia’s research reveals striking differences in the way people in different parts of the world use their automobiles, and what they look for when they buy new ones. Some of the results are about what you’d expect: the countries where people care the least about “reducing dependence on fossil fuels” are in the oil-rich Middle East; and places where people prefer to drive their own cars because of “privacy” or safety issues seem to be countries with relatively high crime rates.

Source: Dalia Research*

The majority of study participants see environmental benefits as the main reason to buy an EV. “They pollute less,” and “They reduce reliance on fossil fuels” were the top two reasons chosen. Taken at face value, this doesn’t bode well for future EV sales.  Various studies have found that the environment tends to be a minor factor for car buyers, and this one is no exception: only 19% of respondents cited “environmental concerns” as an important factor in buying a car. Perhaps the real lesson here is that automakers need to educate the public about the many benefits of going electric.

Source: Dalia Research*

The general public also seems to have little understanding of how charging works. For example, when people were asked about the disadvantages of EVs, the first one cited (50%) is, “There are not enough charging stations,” while the fourth (36%) is, “They take too long to charge.” As other studies have indicated, many people don’t understand that EVs are meant to be charged at home overnight - they still think of a car as something that has to be taken to a fueling station.

Source: Dalia Research*

On the other hand, some of the concerns about EVs are perfectly valid: 44% said, “They are too expensive,” and 26% said, “I wouldn’t be able to charge at home (no garage/driveway).”

Here’s something else that Tesla owners will laugh at, but again, it is surely just a matter of educating the public. Among the disadvantages of an EV, 16% of respondents said “They are not as fast” as legacy gas vehicles, while among the advantages, “They are fun to drive,” was in last place, chosen by only 8% of respondents.

When it comes to EV brand awareness, Tesla appears to be miles ahead of the pack. When asked which brands offered all-electric cars, 29% of Dalia’s respondents named Tesla. This is perhaps not surprising, but it is certainly interesting in light of the fact that Tesla does no traditional advertising for its vehicles whatsoever.

Source: Dalia Research*

The rest of the findings in the brand awareness section are a bit suspect. Toyota, which does not sell any pure EVs (except in a few limited pilots) came in second at 22%, and Honda, another EV-free brand, was fourth, at 13% (both companies used to sell California compliance cars, but these have been discontinued). Strangely, Nissan, the maker of the world’s top-selling pure EV, was not listed by Dalia at all. It’s hard to know what conclusion to draw from this puzzling bit of data, but one likely explanation is that most car buyers still do not understand the differences among hybrids, plug-in hybrids and pure EVs - many are probably thinking of Toyota’s popular Prius as an electric vehicle.


*Source: Dalia Research