Posted on December 18, 2017 by Charles Morris
What’s the best car you can buy? From a practical standpoint, the question seems meaningless - there are so many different classes of car, and what makes a car great is different for each class. For example, styling and performance are important for a sports car, while cargo space is critical for a truck or a van, and dependability and fuel efficiency are probably the metrics that matter for a mass-market family sedan.
On the other hand, as anyone in the auto industry will tell you, consumers base their buying decisions at least as much on their emotional reaction to a car as on any of the practical considerations we just listed. With this in mind, the consultancy Strategic Vision has devoted much time and effort to developing metrics that quantify emotion, and has developed the Edwards Commitment Scale, which captures emotional responses ranging from “I hate it” to “Satisfied” to “I love it.”
The idea is to rank products based not just on features or value, but based on consumers’ emotional reactions. “By using a scale that incorporates the natural language of the customer we have the best tool to predict future behavior when it comes to advocacy, loyalty and sales,” says Strategic Vision President Alexander Edwards.
Strategic Vision’s New Vehicle Experience Study is based on a survey of some 34,000 new vehicle buyers after their first 90 days of ownership. It uses a scale called the Customer Love Index to evaluate 120 different aspects of the ownership experience, and identify the Most Loved Vehicles in each industry segment.
And the overall Most Loved Vehicle in America for 2017 is...the Tesla Model X. “The Model X creates considerable Love across many aspects of the vehicle experience, from power and performance to human-machine-interface and driver assistance features, on top of perceived environmental friendliness,” Strategic Vision reports. “The individuality and prestige of the Model X complement the sense of power that comes from driving one to create an exciting luxury vehicle that owners are proud to call their own.”
This will come as no great surprise to anyone who follows Tesla - owners’ brand loyalty and enthusiasm for their vehicles is intense, in some cases bordering on messianic fervor.
Model X scored a 662 in the Customer Love Index. The only other car that really came close is the Chevrolet Corvette Convertible, with a 644 in the Premium Convertible/Roadster category. Further down the list, the love is spread among many makes. The Most Loved luxury brand is BMW, followed by Genesis, whose G90 is the Most Loved Luxury Car of the year. In the truck department, the Honda Ridgeline and Toyota Tundra are the Most Loved Vehicles in their respective segments. The MINI Cooper, Lexus GX and Porsche Macan also earned respectable amounts of consumer Love. Volkswagen seems to be slowly recovering some of the love it lost due to its recent diesel debacle - VW’s Loyalty Intention has moved closer to the industry average after being underwater last year.
This is far from the first study to highlight the dominance of the Tesla brand: BrandZ named Tesla the Most Innovative US Brand for 2017; a survey by German-based Dalia Research found Tesla to be by far the most familiar electric vehicle brand in the world; and a recent report from JATO Dynamics noted that Tesla is the world’s top-selling EV brand.
What is it about Tesla’s Model X that inspires so much love? That’s a question you’ll have to ask an owner (and many will be happy to answer, at great length). Two more pertinent questions: Will Model 3 succeed in earning a similar level of affection? And when, if ever, will any of the legacy automakers learn how to build an electric vehicle that can earn anything close to this level of love?