"Consumer Reports" Says Tesla Motors Is Rising

The magazine's latest brand perception survey has a big surprise: Tesla has jumped into the mainstream.

Feb 10, 2014 at 7:45PM


The Tesla Model S made a deep impression on Consumer Reports -- it's the magazine's highest-rated car. A new survey by the magazine shows that Tesla has made a deep impression on consumers' perceptions, too. Photo credit: Tesla Motors.

There's no doubt that last year was huge for Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA). It was the first full year of sales for the company's flagship Model S sedan, and the Model S brought home a trophy case full of awards and accolades -- including a rating as Consumer Reports' top-ranked car.

Last year did wonders for Tesla's prospects -- and for its stock price. And apparently, it did wonders for the Silicon Valley automaker's public perception, too: A new survey from Consumer Reports that measures consumers' perceptions of car brands showed a rapid rise for Tesla.

But that's not the only surprise in the magazine's latest survey. In this short video, Fool contributor John Rosevear digs into the survey and looks at what it tells us about Tesla -- as well as about the public's perceptions of other automakers, including Ford (NYSE:F) and Toyota (NYSE:TM)

A transcript follows the video.

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Hey, Fools, it's John Rosevear. Here's a new one from Consumer Reports this past week. Every year, Consumer Reports does what it calls its "Car Brand Perception Survey." They survey consumers to find out how they perceive each auto brand in seven categories: quality, safety, performance, value, fuel economy, design and style, and technology and innovation. Together those add up to a brand's score. And again, this is about brand image, not about specific vehicles, but it's still important.

So who's on top? Well, Toyota came in on top this year, with Ford in second place. Both saw their scores rise a little this year versus last year. Honda's score fell, but it was still good enough for third place, and in fourth was Chevrolet. Those aren't really surprising to me, if you consider America as a whole, both the regions where imports are favored and the regions where American cars and pickups are especially strong, it seems logical to me that it would boil down to Toyota and Ford and Honda and Chevy.

But here's where it gets interesting. In fifth place? Tesla Motors. Tesla was way way down the list a year ago, but now they're up near the top. Of course, they had a very visible year -- 2013 was the first full year for the Model S sedan, the company won a whole bunch of awards, CEO Elon Musk was regularly in the news, and of course Consumer Reports reviewed the Model S last year and said it was their top-ranked car of any kind. Other brands that did well included Subaru, as well as some luxury brands, which tend to do well in these kinds of things generally -- Mercedes and Cadillac and BMW all scored in the top ranks.

And the worst? Well, this is interesting. The worst of all was Land Rover. On the one hand, Land Rover has had a reputation for quality problems for years. On the other hand, plenty of well-heeled folks seem to covet Land Rover products. Second worst was Maserati, and I figure that's just a matter of nobody has heard of them. That's probably also true of Scion, which is Toyota's youth-market brand and which also scored poorly.

But it was a surprise to see Infiniti on the "worst" list. Infiniti is, of course, Nissan's luxury brand, I don't know about where you live, but where I live we see plenty of them out on the roads. It seems like people are aware of them, but maybe they don't have much of an impression with the public at large?

Ram was also on the list. I think there are lots and lots of people who don't realize that Ram is a brand now, it used to just be the name of the Dodge pickup, but the Ram isn't a Dodge anymore, it's a Ram. So I don't know, some confusion there, probably.

Long story short, it's interesting that Tesla has made such inroads into consumers' perceptions while Infiniti and Ram seem to be way behind. Food for thought there. Thanks for watching, and Fool on.

John Rosevear owns shares of Ford. The Motley Fool recommends BMW, Ford, and Tesla Motors and owns shares of Ford and Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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