Chevy Volt Fans & Tesla Fans Quite Different

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Originally published on EV Obsession.

While the electric vehicle sector is often spoken of as a relatively homogenous entity, the truth is that there’s not necessarily that much overlap between buyers of a Tesla Model S, a Nissan LEAF, a Mahindra e2o, and a BMW i3.

So, if that’s the case, where and what exactly are the distinctions between the buyers of the various electric vehicles (EVs)? An article published recently over at Business 2 Community examined those questions — focusing specifically on the differences between those interested in Tesla’s products and those interested in the Chevy Volt (and likely the Chevy Bolt as well).

Tesla Model 3 vs Chevy Volt fans

The comparison — made using the Affinio Marketing Intelligence Platform — shows what most astute observers would have already guessed: much of the interest in Tesla’s products appears to be driven by prestige and its wider association with the tech industry. (I’m sure that the high quality of the company’s products plays a substantial part as well, of course. But the wider “love” coming from the media and others is at this point partly the result of what the company represents socially and culturally.)


Here are some excerpts from the aforementioned coverage:

To learn more about which car is dominating in ideal ‘EV’ communities, we ran a competitive analysis between @TeslaMotors and @ChevyVolt to understand further. In this analysis, we combined the followers of these accounts and ran an Affinio segmentation analysis. From there, we can understand who is ‘winning’ in each interest-based cluster.

It is interesting to note that Chevy dominates in the ‘Sustainability’ community. You might assume that they would be somewhat split here. Clearly, Chevy has the stronger following in this community. They also dominate in the ‘Auto Industry’, which is not a surprise based on the audience analysis from above. The two EV makers are fairly split in ‘Business’ and ‘Movie + Entertainment’ communities while Tesla dominated in ‘Tech Founders’ and ‘Space + Science’. This obviously has a lot to do with Tesla’s co-founder, Elon Musk. Musk is also the founder, CEO, and CTO of SpaceX, and co-founder of Paypal.

I would expect that this disparity will become more and more pronounced following the Model 3 release, and the release of the models following.

(Tip of the hat to “saltsman” on the GM Volt forum.)

Image Credit: Business 2 Community

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

James Ayre has 4830 posts and counting. See all posts by James Ayre

34 thoughts on “Chevy Volt Fans & Tesla Fans Quite Different

  • Tesla owners tend to be more financially successful.

    • Richer rather than financially successful. You can declare yourself financially successful if your net worth is greater than zero, but that doesn’t mean you will afford a Tesla.

  • I like to think of us Volt owner as more frugal. I drive my Volt about 15K miles/year…I can’t justify the cost of the S or X.

    The Tesla does cost 2-3 X as much as the Volt, a more fair comparison might between those that purchase the Volt and those that put a deposit down on the Model 3.

    • I’d love to have a Tesla, but given that we paid $20K for our ’16 Volt after rebates, it’s even more than 3x the price. Even the Model 3 I expect to be 50% more after rebates (though I hope I’m wrong). So it’s not frugality per se — just that the demographics of who can afford these cars are very different.

      • Well, a combination of frugality (among those who can afford a Tesla but choose not to get one) and lack of resources.

        Of course, there are also many people who stretch for a Tesla but probably shouldn’t.

      • It is different demographics. Largely to do with how much savings people have.

        The Teslas are built to last forever. If Model 3 lasts three times as long as a Volt, it could actually be a comparable choice financially over the long run — but you have to have the cash up front.

        • It’s possible, but IMO the type that buys a Tesla is unlikely to keep it for 20+ years even if it does last that long.

          • I intend to keep my Model S for as long as possible. I’m worried about what will happen when warranty support disappears, so I may eventually have to replace it due to inability to get parts.

            But my intention is to be like the guy who got a Rolls Royce as a college graduation present in the 1920s and drove it until the day he died a few years ago (this is a story I read a while back). I intend to keep my Model S forever.

        • We plan to keep our car for a decade. The idea that the Model 3 will last 30 years is a bit implausible, if only because car technology appears to be in a sudden transition, and even the advanced batteries, motors, and self-driving capabilities of a Tesla are likely to be quite obsolete in another decade.

          But in any case, it’s moot. Like most people, we simply don’t have the cash for such luxuries, whether or not it’s a better long-term proposition. On the other hand, the Volt’s pretty darn nice!

        • Then there is the inevitable battery pack replacement.

          • Inevitable? Perhaps there will be some need for first generation, lower range EVs where the batteries are cycled often.

            Tesla has stated that Model S drivers should get to 200,000 miles before their range drops to 70% of new.

  • Would be interested to see similar data comparing the Leaf and and Volt as those cars are in a similar cost range.

    • As the owner of a 2015 Leaf S, I’ll start. 🙂

      Likes: science, space, Game of Thrones, sustainability, being a dad, cooking shows

      Occupation: Web developer

    • And the i3.
      I think the i3 will swamp sustainability.

  • Both the Volt and Tesla fans are Technology fans, that is the definitive market of electric cars for now. It hasn’t really reached mainstream yet, even the Tesla Model 3, the vast majority of those that reserved are tech fans. I can afford the Tesla Model X but I can’t justify its price and total cost of ownership over what I can get to move my butt from point A to point B and have comfortable electric ride.

    • There you go… Tesla is rarely a “cost of ownership” play. While we will save $10K in fuel over 8 years compared to the MB SUV we traded in for it, our Tesla was a lifestyle choice to go 100% electric. No more gas was our reason.

      • Yeah, my Tesla was also a “lifestyle” choice in that I *hated hated hated* pumping gas.

        I actually drive about 20% more since I got my Tesla since it’s more pleasant, so I think it was worth it.

        • Did you *hate* pumping gas, or just look at your kids and think ‘I have no right to burn this stuff, when the result impacts them for a couple of centuries’? The task itself isn’t so arduous.
          I wouldn’t call it a lifestyle choice. I’d call it a species survival choice.

          • Well, personally, I *hated* pumping gas. I had to stand out in the cold in the freezing snow holding a cold metal handle while smelling toxic fumes. And then I had to *pay* someone for it.
            (Not so bad to go to a full service gas station.) Often I had to drive on icy roads just to get to the gas station to refuel… so that I could drive in a different direction.

            You’re quite right about the species survival choice. But for me it was personal. I don’t like paying to inhale toxic fumes while standing in a freezing snowstorm — it’s just not the sort of experience I would normally pay for. 🙂

    • Yes, and this “tech geeks” group is typically the group that leads a disruptive technology to its path of market disruption. Sure lines up well.

  • There are some Tesla owners who have Volt as their out-of-range long distance car.

    • Really?! Out of 100 local owners I know, the vast majority use their Tesla as their long distance car, just like me…

      • One of the journalists has a Tesla and a Volt on lease. He uses the Volt for longer trips.

      • My Dad has a Model S and I have the new Volt.

        Also have a Smart Electric.

    • I must second Smart Electric here. A Volt is OK for what it is, but a long road trip in a Tesla with its free superchargers and Autopilot? No comparison.

  • I think there is way more overlap than they want people to believe.

    They are just trying to polarize people because a good “vs” story sells more.

    • There’s a lot of overlap, but one thing you’ll note is that the Volt attracts more people who are fans of the existing car industry, and the Tesla attracts more people who really hate the existing (pre-Tesla) car industry.

      • I don’t find that to be true, not for me.

        • Well, think about it: the Volt is literally produced by a company which is part of the existing industry, and Tesla isn’t.

          I think for people who have no strong prior opinions about the existing car industry, you’d expect them to like (or dislike) both cars.

          • I’ve got very strong opinions about the auto industry. Years of commenting on these blogs provides ample evidence of this.
            And I like both very much.

  • So where did Business 2 Community get there data from ?
    Lacking any contrary information I’ll guess this came out of thin air.

  • I am a fan of both Tesla and the Volt. The problem for me is I travel a lot for work and have no intention of trying to locate the superchargers every time I have to go out of town for a week (which happens about once a month). And when I am out of town I get reimbursed for mileage anyway. So for me the Volt is the obvious choice.

  • My wife and I have both a Volt and a Tesla. This article might explain why we are bipolar sometimes. One of my co-workers has a Volt and an i8. Analyzing these buying patterns might just result is a bunch of junk data.

Comments are closed.