Electric-Car Maker Tesla Gains In Brand Awareness

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2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

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If you're reading this, you probably already know a little bit about Tesla.

Brainchild of entrepreneur Elon Musk, producer of electric vehicles, and upstart in the automotive market, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has been one of the highest-profile new brands of recent years.

That high profile has done more than put the company on the automotive landscape--it's also made an impact in American homes. Tesla has now crept onto the top ten list for brand perception, as ranked by Consumer Reports.

The survey of more than two thousand Americans records their perception of automotive brands, in terms of quality, safety, performance, design and other factors.

Topping this year's list is Toyota, followed by Ford, Honda, Chevrolet and Mercedes-Benz.

But ranked at number 10 is Tesla, whose score has risen since last year, no doubt thanks to the Model S sedan, which has already received several awards over the past 12 months.

Other brands in the top 10 include Volvo, Cadillac, BMW and another new top-10 entrant, Dodge--so Tesla is in good company.

At the other end of the scale, Toyota's youthful brand Scion ranks lowest, with small-car makers Fiat and MINI also scoring poorly--as do luxury brands and potential Tesla rivals Land Rover, Jaguar and Porsche.

Each category used to determine the position of each brand is ranked by importance by those surveyed. Quality, safety and value are all most important.

While green concerns are still a factor, it ranks lowest of all other buying decisions for those surveyed. Given that technology and innovation are just above this, it perhaps makes Tesla's achievement all the more impressive--since it will have scored highly on less green-orientated factors, too. Toyota, Smart and Tesla all scored well on green image.

Consumer Reports suggests that brands such as Smart and Tesla must continue to work hard on building their reputation, despite being up against much larger companies.

Whether Smart can do that remains to be seen with a new Fortwo on the way, but Tesla could be very interesting to watch--will 2014 see it dip back out of the top ten, or will it have risen even higher?

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