A report released by Zpryme Research and Consulting to shed some light on brand loyalty going into the age of electric vehicles shows that, despite a year of recalls and bad press, Toyota fans remain the most loyal customers of any brand.
In the web-based survey of 1,046 U.S. drivers age 18-65, 57 per cent of Toyota owners indicated they would prefer to buy an electric vehicle of the same brand as their current car than that of any other brand, followed by Honda at 54 per cent and Ford at 48. By comparison, only 43 per cent of Chevy and Nissan drivers would buy an EV from the manufacturer of their current car, followed by 28 per cent of Hyundai drivers and only 18 per cent with a GMC.
“I think there’s two compelling cases we’ve found here,” said Zpryme managing director Mark Ishac in an interview with Mobile Magazine. “Regardless of Toyota’s subpar year last year and recalls, they still have a substantial consumer base that believes that they still want to purchase those products. They still believe in the Toyota brand.
“That’s huge,” says Ishac.
According to the report, Hyundai, Chrysler, Dodge and GMC’s lower numbers suggest the brands are “less inclined to be associated with new technology and will struggle should they decide to enter the EV market without a branding effort to redefine themselves as manufacturers of compelling EVs.”
But that doesn’t mean the drivers of those brands aren’t looking to make the switch. Despite the fact that they aren’t likely to buy an EV sporting the same mark as the car they’re currently driving, 45 per cent of Hyundai drivers expressed they’re likely to buy an electric vehicle in the next two years – more than the drivers of any other brand. Nissan and Toyota both stand at 43 per cent, followed by GMC and Honda at 36 and Chevy and Ford at 35 per cent.
“Hyundai owners have been known to be very cost-conscious,” says Ishac. “You could say that the same thing about the GMCs: Traditionally, a very cost-conscious group. Those are SUV and truck drivers, so with the gas prices, they see the electric vehicles are a cost-saving alternative.
“It’s not necessarily a natural transition for an SUV or a truck owner to move into the electric vehicle segment, but it’s very appealing that they could save money in the long run with the electric vehicle,” he says.
At the bottom end of the results, Dodge and Chrysler drivers seem to be some of the least apt to adopt the new technology, and if they did, they’re even less apt to buy electric cars from the same mark as what they’re currently driving.
But brand loyalty won’t have a lot of sway in the beginning, Ishac says.
“The one interesting aspect of the electric vehicle market is that it’s really going to be spearheaded by the advocates and the evangelists. They’re more excited that there’s an electric vehicle market available rather than a brand.”
Zpryme also believes that disenchantment with a certain make or model of EV is unlikely to be tied to any companies in the beginning, he says. “For example, the Chevy Volt – at least, based on a new consumer report survey – didn’t get very rave reviews. But that won’t necessarily hurt the Chevy brand.
“I think those early adopters are just happy to reserve the car, to have their car and that it’s electric…It’s more about selecting an electric vehicle that best fits your needs rather than the best brand” for the first round of purchasers, he says.
[Zpryme via PDF report]