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Strategic Vision: Tesla owners show differences from rest of EV buyers

28 August 2013

Strategic Vision’s New Vehicle Experience Study (NVES), using a rapidly growing sample of Tesla buyers, finds what it calls “significant” differences between Tesla owners and the rest of the electric vehicle market.

Creating complete buyer experience profiles, NVES gathers more than 400 variables to provide comprehensive views of the new vehicle driver, including the electric vehicle owner/shopper. Results are used to provide quantifiable explanations about demographic differences (such as gender buying trends), shopping behavior strategies, sales explanation and even detailed answers to such questions as why Tesla buyers express a “Love” for their Overall Vehicle Experience at a 20% higher rate than the average electric vehicle owner.

Tesla has 29% fewer female owners compared to the average luxury buyer, 10% fewer than the electric vehicle buyer and at least 14% fewer than competitive performance vehicles such as the Mercedes CLS-Class and BMW 5 Series, according to NVES.

Tesla owners’ emphasis on “Performance-Electric” sets them apart from other EV buyers. While most EV owners focus on their vehicle’s Performance and Environmental Friendliness/Fuel Economy, Tesla owners rank Performance—particularly “Handling and Cornering”—as their top priority at 90%. By comparison, Fuel Economy is the top priority for Volt, LEAF and Prius Plug-In owners (97%, 94% and 98%, respectively).

According to the ratings listed on fueleconomy.gov, Tesla is the least fuel-efficient of the major battery-electric passenger cars on the market. The 85 kWh battery pack Model S, for example, is EPA-rated at 38 kWh/100 miles consumption. The LEAF, as a contrast, consumes 29 kWh/ 100 miles.

(The plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt, in electric mode, is EPA-rated at 35 kWh/100 miles; the C-MAX and Fusion Energi PHEVs is electric mode are EPA-rated at 34 kWh/100 miles; and the Prius PHV is EPA-rated at 29 kWh/ 100 miles, as is the 2014 Honda Accord PHEV.)

However, one area that most electric vehicle owners have in common, according to the NVES, is their consideration of the Chevrolet Volt during their shopping process. Even if they’ve purchased another vehicle, they at least shop the Volt.

While the field of electric vehicles (EVs) has grown with the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf and the Toyota Prius Plug-In, Tesla buyers display unique differences.

NVES shows that Tesla owners have double the average household income of other EV owners ($293,200). As a result, they are more likely to be adding a Tesla to their household fleet (51%) rather than replacing a vehicle with its purchase. Compared to the 16% average rate of vehicle disposal within the luxury market, Tesla vehicles are adding to households at three times the typical rate. When new Tesla buyers dispose of a vehicle, they’re often coming from a Toyota Prius, Lexus SC, BMW M3, BMW 5 Series or a Mercedes E350.

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