Electric car maker Tesla has been listed in the top ten trusted car companies in Australia by leading market research firm Roy Morgan, ranking ahead of Mercedes-Benz, Kia and also beating the only other US car maker on the list, Ford.
The top ten list, which is dominated by Asian car makers and notably excludes former Australian car brand Holden, was released by the market research firm on Monday.
The top five listed in the “Net Trust Score” (NTS) list for automotive brands were Japanese, while South Korean car maker Hyundai, which now has two fully electric vehicles – the Kona Electric and the Ioniq – on the Australian market, came sixth.
Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine notes in a statement that while Australia’s car market is now in its 20th consecutive month of decline, Tesla is bucking the trend and “appears to be shaping the future of the car industry”.
Tesla first opened reservations for the Model S premium sedan to Australia in 2011 followed by the Model X premium SUV.
However, it is the arrival of Tesla’s “mass-market” Model 3 sedan in August 2019 that has been marked as a turning point for Australia which is lagging in the transition to electric mobility that is well under way overseas.
2020 will see the introduction of another electric vehicle by Tesla in the US, the Model Y electric crossover, although a release date for Australia has not yet been announced.
“It’s well-known that Australia’s automotive market is in a rough spot at present with sales of cars in Australia dipping in the last two years after reaching a record 1.189 million in 2017,” Levine wrote in a note about the list.
“Automotive sales declined by 3% in 2018 and have continued this decline so far in 2019. Roy Morgan’s latest automotive buying intentions show that although the shift to a preference for buying SUVs has continued since 2017 this hasn’t translated to a lift in the overall market.”
The drop in local car sales has also been noted by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), which attributes the trend to low consumer confidence.
However, industry figures collected by the organisation do not include Tesla sales figures which are understood to be in the low thousands since the arrival of the Model 3, and repeated requests to the FCAI to provide sales by fuel type have been ignored.
Other recent research conducted by Roy Morgan suggests that the declining trend in car sales may be attributed to the declining interest in fossil-fuelled vehicles and an uptick in intention to buy EVs.
Levine credits the presence on the list of Tesla – which, unlike legacy car makers, makes only electric vehicles – to the car maker’s strong commitment to reducing carbon emissions and changing the way we think about cars.
“Tesla’s strong showing as a one of the most trusted automotive brands in Australia is unsurprising given its eco-credentials and innovative brand reputation. Tesla appears to be shaping the future of the car industry,” says Levine.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.