Published on January 26th, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan


Leading Electric Car Models & Leading Companies

January 26th, 2016 by  

In our 4th article pulled from Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want — a new report from CleanTechnica, EV Obsession, and GAS2 — I’m jumping into which electric car models respondents were most likely to buy and most excited about, as well as some implications regarding certain car companies.

Without surprise, current EV ownership matched historical EV sales fairly well — 33.9% had the Nissan LEAF, 21.4% the Tesla Model S, 16% the Chevy Volt, 6.5% the BMW i3, and then much smaller percentages had numerous other electric cars.

Importantly, I think this indicates that the EV-driver respondents are quite representative of the broader EV consumer market, which bodes well for making broad generalizations from this report.

top electric cars

More interesting than the cars people currently have (which we already basically know anyway) were the electric cars people intended to buy and were most excited about. Naturally, these results weren’t a huge surprise either, as there are just a few very exciting electric models publicly planned for market in the coming few years, but it was interesting to see how the preferences were split. Breaking out results for each model, here are the 7 hottest electric vehicles:

Model 3

39% owners expect to buy next
55% of potential owners expect to buy
53% owners more excited about this than any other new/coming EV
56% of potential owners more excited about this than any other new/coming EV

Model X

12% owners expect to buy next
17% of potential owners expect to buy
13% owners more excited about this than any other new/coming EV
15% of potential owners more excited about this than any other new/coming EV

Model S

10% owners expect to buy next
20% of potential owners plan to buy

Chevy Volt (1.0 + 2.0)

7% owners expect to buy next
23% of potential owners expect to buy
5% owners more excited about Volt 2.0 than any other new/coming EV
5% of potential owners more excited about Volt 2.0 than any other new/coming EV

Chevy Bolt

6% owners expect to buy next
17% of potential owners expect to buy
8% owners more excited about this than any other new/coming EV
4% of potential owners more excited about this than any other new/coming EV

Nissan LEAF (1st-Gen)

6% owners expect to buy next
8% of potential owners plan to buy

Long-Range Nissan

5% owners expect to buy next
33% of potential owners expect to buy
10% owners more excited about this than any other new/coming EV
6% of potential owners more excited about this than any other new/coming EV

There are a few other long-range and competitively affordable electric cars tentatively planned for market, but their release dates are less certain, which likely caused them to rank lower.

However, another reason they don’t have as much buyer interest or enthusiasm may be due to Nissan, GM, and Tesla benefiting from “first-mover advantage.” The Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt, and Tesla Model S were the first genuinely mass-market electric vehicles in the United States. Many more of them have been sold than any other electric car models. Both early adopters and EV enthusiasts eager to join the EV movement seem to trust these companies and want to reward them for their leadership in this sector.

Potential EV Drivers

most likely to buy electric cars


most excited ev drivers copy

Current EV Drivers

1 most likely to buy electric cars

most excited non owners

Tesla clearly stands out, even far above Nissan and GM, in consumer interest. I had a little fun with a couple of questions about the electric car company, and the results were impressive: 54.2% of EV owners/lessees self-identified as fanbois/fangurls (typically derogatory terms), and 28.6% said they were “perhaps” fanbois/fangurls. Interestingly, almost the exact same percentages came out of non-owner/lessee responses — 54.5% and 29.10%.

fanboi 1 fanboi 2

It’s unspecified why respondents were so enthusiastic about Tesla and its products, but there are several likely reasons. One is that Tesla is 100% focused on fully electric vehicles. Not only does it not produce fossil-fuel-gulping cars; it even stays away from fossil-fuel-sipping plug-in hybrids and extended-range electric vehicles. This, by itself, must endear it to EV enthusiasts.

The company, mostly via well known CEO and product architect Elon Musk, is passionate about combating climate change, air pollution, and oil dependency. This is important to many people, and we like Tesla more for its passion on this front.

Tesla has also demonstrated the ability and desire to produce extremely high-performance and innovative vehicles. The Tesla Model S has broken many auto industry records and turned the general concept of electric cars on its head. Additionally, Tesla is the only company with a super-fast charging network in place, a topic I’ll come back to later in the report.

Tesla has long held plans to release a long-range and affordable electric car. It is widely assumed that Tesla’s batteries come at a lower cost per kilowatt-hour than any other EV batteries on the market. Making that assumption, when Tesla does bring a mid-market car to production, many potential buyers believe they will be able to get “more car for the money” from Tesla than from any other automaker.

Given the reviews of the Tesla Model S and Model X, as well as Tesla’s Supercharger network, many EV enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting a Tesla model they can affordably get their hands on. Even those who have bought or plan to buy a higher-cost Model S or Model X are enthusiastic because the Model 3 will presumably bring long-range, fully electric transportation to millions of people — if all goes as planned. That would mark a huge step forward for the electric vehicle movement.

You can download the full “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want” report here.

Report sponsors include Cost of Solar, Plugless, the Low Voltage Vehicle Electrification Event, and Pono Home.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • dogphlap dogphlap

    I looked at two vehicles in these bar graphs, the Bolt and the Model 3 and I was shocked at how big a difference there was in favour of the Model 3. Maybe with a less EV enthusiastic set of respondents the Bolt would have faired a little better. I’d love to see this survey conducted in April i.e. post the Model 3 reveal to see how things change.
    I think both vehicles should be excellent but for me the SuperCharger network available for the Model 3 is a very powerful influencing factor.

    • Good idea. Will run this short part of it again, at least.

      And, yes, I was surprised as well. OTOH, it seems to show people have done their research and know a long-range EV isn’t nearly as useful without a Supercharger network as with one. Plus, there’s the performance & tech Tesla is known for.

  • jessica Feinleib

    I am a Tesla supporter and stock owner too, but Zachary please give the GM and other products a bit of play too. As Elon will agree Tesla can not supply the entire world with all of the EVs needed for this great step forward. Why not ask who is a Volt/Bolt Fan? I love my Volt and am looking forward to getting the Bolt when my Volt lease is done. Also what about the new Plug in Minivan from Chrysler? I am a doctor with decent income and still can not afford the Tesla X. We need cars for the rest of us..

    • Marion Meads

      Yes, the questions in the survey were structured to favor the Tesla brand. Questions were built around surrounding the assumptions about Tesla Model 3, a fictitious car whose specs are still to be revealed.

      • QKodiak

        The Tesla Model III is exciting because we know that it will have 200 miles of “real world range,” Supercharging capabilities allowing cross country travel, good looks, good cargo capacity with all seats occupied, excellent safety, and good handling and performance. How do we “know” this? Because TESLA.
        The Chevy Bolt looks like a jellybean, has a max range of 200 miles, almost no cargo capacity with people in seats, and no fast charging network for traveling (50kW is slow) making it a range anxiety free city car.

        Why would you buy a Chevy Bolt when a couple years of waiting would net you a much better vehicle for around the same price? I can understand leasing a Bolt until the Model III becomes available, but to me, it makes little sense to choose the Bolt over Model III.

        You say the Model III is a fictitious car. That’s absurd. Just because Tesla hasn’t release even a prototype for us to look at doesn’t mean it’s fictitious. Tesla Motors has a track record of delivering awesome vehicles, none of which have had a less than 200-mile range. What makes you think that the Model III will not have 200+ miles of range and all the awesomeness that typically embodies a Tesla? Elon doesn’t believe in the “electric car mentality” that birthed small, funky cars like the Leaf, i3, and Bolt.

        People really want EVs to be able to completely replace their gas car and many are willing to pay for it. That is why the very expensive Model S is leading EV sales when logically cheaper EVs should outsell it ten to one. However, they often settle for less. People have different tastes, needs, and budgets.

        • Thanks for putting in a nutshell what so many people don’t seem to understand.

          • QKodiak

            Your welcome. Is seems so many people seem to lack rationality when it comes to Tesla, including Tesla supporters.

            Electric Vehicles, if they are to catch on, must compete head-to-head against gassers in the same price bracket. So far, only Tesla Motors’ vehicles do that and are being rewarded with oodles of demand, more than for any other EV despite the price.

            The Bolt is twice as good as the Leaf for a little more money and simiilar to the BMW i3 in performance but with twice the EV range for a somewhat more money. However, all of that is rather insignificant since neither the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt, or BMW i3 can compete against the gassers in price bracket, nor can they compete with the vehicles in their class that cost $10-$20K less while providing a much longer range, faster refueling, and familiar operation (albeit with the drawbacks of having an ICE). THAT is why the Bolt will achieve similar sales to the Leaf with marginial improvement, and the class-competitive Tesla Model III will sell in the hundreds of thousands.

      • neroden

        The Bolt was also fictitious and had unrevealed specs at the time of the survey, Marion.

    • I can ask people if they are GM or Nissan or BMW fanbois/fangurls. But I don’t think the results would be pretty for those brands.

  • Freddy D

    Interesting how quickly opinions evolve. Prior to the Bolt reveal, this auto enthusiast, reader, and respondent, had extremely modest expectations of the Bolt. Like a Geo with a large battery awkwardly placed with a poor weight distribution, etc. (sorry – just going off of GM’s track record since they lost so much market share over the last 3 decades, driving my interests strictly to European and Japanese cars). Upon the Bolt reveal, however, this reader’s interest has skyrocketed. Depends on actual timing, actual pricing vis a vis the Model 3.

    • Steve Grinwis

      I’m also excited for the Bolt as well.

  • Mark Henschel

    I own a Volt but it is tiny. We need electric pick up trucks with rifle racks ( and Confederate flags? )if we expect to aim for the mass market. All new cars should be plug in hybrids, not just cars for us tree huggers.

    • neroden

      …let’s leave off the Confederate flags.

    • dogphlap dogphlap

      Why stop at rifle racks ? A heavy machine gun mount could make an attractive vehicle for the more eco friendly members of ISIS, why let Toyota get all that business ? /s

    • QKodiak

      VIA Motors XTRUX is an 804 hp plug-in hybrid truck that gets up to 100 MPGe from a V8 up front and twin electric motors in the rear. The batteries are mounted under the bed. It has a very powerful built in generator and can provide 110V and 220V AC power for a construction site. THIS is the truck of the future.

Back to Top ↑