Survey: 78% of Respondents Don’t Know What a Tesla Model S Is – 56% Have No Clue What a Chevy Volt Is


EV Awareness Chart From Navigant Research

EV Awareness Chart From Navigant Research

In a survey recently conducted by Navigant Research, only 31% of respondents were familiar (somewhat or extremely) with the US’ top selling pure electric: the Nissan LEAF.

Tesla Model S is Unknown to Most of the Respondents

Tesla Model S is Unknown to Most of the Respondents

Even the Tesla Model S, a vehicle which has grabbed countless awards and has been covered to great extents by major media outlets, registered a familiarity percentage of only 22%.

Translated, this means that 78% of the respondents had no clue what a Tesla Model S is and 69% had never heard of a Nissan LEAF.

Meanwhile, the Chevy Volt scored the highest familiarity % (44%) among the group of plug-ins discussed in the survey, but still some 56% of respondents had no clue of the Chevy Volt’s existence.

We’d say that these 3 plug-ins are the most popular, well known ones on the market today, so that means that the rest of today’s EVs are essentially unknown among the group of respondents surveyed by Navigant.

If the US in general still isn’t familiar with plug-ins, then there’s no way they’d consider buying them.  Looks like there more spreading of the word that needs to be done.

Navigant Research

Categories: Chevrolet, Nissan, Tesla

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34 Comments on "Survey: 78% of Respondents Don’t Know What a Tesla Model S Is – 56% Have No Clue What a Chevy Volt Is"

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So sad. But I’m sure they all know who Kim Kardashian is.

Who is Kim Kardashian? Some character from Star Trek universe?

But anyway, this is why it is foolish to think that Model S demand is declining. How can the demand decline if only one percent of potential customers has heard enough of Model S so that they can make rational choice. And even less has actually test driven the vehicle.


Wow, this is actually good news. It means the sky’s practically the limit in terms of EV market penetration in the next few years. We got an indication of that when Atlanta, not exactly a hotbed of green consumerism, jumped to the top of the Nissan Leaf sales markets (naturally, the Georgia state incentive helps – but many states have some sort of incentive).

Now what’s needed is for EV makers to get their production volumes up, and to continue pushing out the word.

“It means the sky’s practically the limit in terms of EV market penetration in the next few years.”

Are you forgetting that 60% of U.S. households don’t have access to an electrical outlet to charge an EV? This will severely hinder the adoption of electric vehicles. EV market penetration for the 60% of the U.S. population that lacks access to a residential charger will be very low to zilch.

For a while, we could be happy with just…40%!!!

No, she’s the wife of Lando Kardashian… you know, in Star Wars? She drives a LEAF.

You mean Lando Calrissian?

Ah, I think that Foo was going along with Jouni Valkonen’s joke… 😉

I was thinking Londo Molari, but he was in Babylon 5, and had three wives.

Kim Kardashian is a Hobbit. Really. A Hobbit, like glowing blue sword kind of hobbit. I heard that on TV, so it must be true….

Well, to some degree I sympathize . . . most of these people probably cannot afford any of these cars so why should they bother knowing about them? But yeah . . . people are stupid.

Apparently you are not a regular on this site.

For sure, you’ve missed yesterday’s infographic from Insurance Quotes (not an EV outfit, mind you) that showed the Nissan Leaf having lower cost-of-ownership than the Hyundai Sonata and Ford Fusion hybrid (and I might add, pretty much any 5-seat midrange compact/midsize on offer) – from Day 1, and getting relatively cheaper as time goes by.

Here’s the link:

Be sure to scroll to the bottom.

The Leaf is cheap, and even cheaper on a lease basis. It’s a well-known secret by now.

I can’t afford a Boeing 767 but I know what it is…..

Near 25% knows what Tesla is, even if that car is pretty young and has nearly no marketing for it? That’s pretty good!

This is great. I knew it all along.

where’s the Mary Barra article?

No worries George,

It’s in the can, ready to go tomorrow AM first thing (stories are dropping off the front page in like 10-11 hours these days…have to give them a little breathing time, lol)…and have to tie it all into the greater meaning of EVs too of course, (=

I agree,
the greater meaning is very important!!

america is full of brainwashed/below average iq individuals so this is no surprise

Yes, by definition, half of Americans have below average IQ. The other half are above average. Funny how that works.

Hmm, no… the “middle person” does not always “by definition” possess the average IQ.

Example: Assume we have 10 people, 9 with with an IQ of 100 and 1 with an IQ of 50. The average IQ of this group is therefore 95 and, within it, 90% of the members (not half) have above average IQ and only 10% (again, not half) have a below average IQ.

Funny how that works.

That is NOT a “Gaussian” or Normal distribution….

If the samples are independent, identical and distributed and they are large enough, it should approach Gaussian distribution.

With 300 Million samples, I would sure hope so…

Newsflash: Tremendous upside potential for EVs.

That makes sense, because most people don’t read and blog about cars every day either.

The only time most consumers would think about ‘other’ cars, is when it’s time to get a new one.

But with more manufacturers offering a wider variety of electrified vehicles, dealerships will be key in introducing and educating new consumers as it relates to the benefits of hybrids and plug-in vehicles. Since these vehicles will have a higher margin, the salesperson should be eager.

More dealers will begin doing what Ford is doing now:

“To prepare dealers for the increasing demand of these progressive vehicles, Ford arranged a dealer training program for all Ford EV Certified dealerships titled “Understanding and Selling EVs.” The goal was to educate sales consultants and other Dealership staff members on the benefits of Ford’s EV lineup.

Lastly, the program offered Ford dealers an opportunity to compete in an EV Walkaround competition where they could submit videos moving customers from C-MAX and Fusion hybrids to the Energi versions or demonstrating how they would sell a customer a Focus Electric.”

Electric Car Guest Drive

I usually enjoy reading your posts Bloggin, but I guess you haven’t been to a dealership looking for an EV recently 😉

The dealer sales are seriously lagging in knowledge or motivation to sell EVs. You’re right, they should be eager, especially considering the incentives. It just ain’t so.

I recently shopped at 33 San Diego area dealers, looking at everything from Leafs to Toyotas to Tesla. With the exception of Tesla and a few heads-up Chevy and Nissan dealerships and one awesome Fiat dealer, very few were knowledgeable or interested in selling EVs.

Not surprisingly, those few who take the time to become expert are selling the lion’s share of the volume.

It seems like manufacturers know there is work to be done with dealerships and their salesperson’s knowledge of EV.

But it does seem that the more marketing the automaker does for EVs, the more knowledgable the consumer, the higher the demand, and the more knowledgable the sales person is ‘forced’ to be.

Electric Car Guest Drive

I should probably explain that it wasn’t just a journalistic exercise, although it will make an interesting story. I ended up purchasing a Ford Focus Electric, a Fiat 500e and a Tesla Model S. I’m still in the market for a Chevy Volt and a Chevy Spark EV. I’m on the fence about a Leaf (battery life, styling), although I’m really impressed with Nissan’s commitment to the technology.

As a wise Chinese college once said to us at work……

“It all comes down to poor toilet training when they young”

Explains the results of this survey and we can also add “they live amongst us!”

What is the key to spreading the word on EV’s ? More cartoon ads aimed at 3 year olds ?

As a counter question, the respondents could have been asked if they know about the Ford F150, Chevy Silverado, or the Dodge Ram are.

if their knowledge of EV’s is low to non-existent, and their knowledge of Pick-up trucks is high, then it can be assumed that they are not the target markets for the current batch of EV’s.

With 50 years of name branding, those are probably bad counter examples for more reasons than just redneck bias. Those are some pretty iconic brand names. There is a reason why Ford is bringing back the Fiesta name, and Dodge is brought back the Dart name. Branding really matters.

Better counter examples would be the Ford Edge, or the Chevy Spark, or the Fiat Qubo. If folks who recognize F150’s, Silverado’s, and Ram’s (they aren’t called Dodges anymore, they dropped the Dodge, and now is just a Ram)., but don’t recognize any of these cars either, this is just a branding issue that will resolve itself over time.

Most of the people I work with assume my Leaf is some sort of gas car or hybrid. When people find out it is electric they are amazed that such a thing even exists. I suspect the real problem is that most people just don’t care about new car models or technology. When they’re ready for a new car they’ll go to a dealership and if the salesmen doesn’t show them an EV they’ll probably just buy whatever they see that they like and never even know it was an option.

My experience is that most people buy cars for looks, then performance (Acceleration, towing, cargo cap.) and fuel economy is way down the list, somewhere around cupholders. Emmisions doesn’t even register. That’s changing but they have very short memories, if gas was expensive 6 months ago they have already forgotten about it. That’s why I think the tax credits are still important, when a person drives an EV for a while and sees how truly superior they are they usually don’t want to go back.

How much ads is there for plugin cars vs. other large pickup trucks and SUVs?

BTW, the only reason more people “know” about Volt is b/c all the political reasons….

Tesla’s problem is that they need much bigger logos on the back of their cars, so folks know what it was that just took off and disappeared in front of them.