LOS ANGELES — Tesla Motors, the youngest U.S. automaker, ranks in the top five brands among people surveyed by Consumer Reports, another accolade from the magazine that rates Tesla’s Model S among the best cars it’s ever tested.
Tesla was fifth in the poll, up from 11th last year, behind namesake brands of Toyota, Ford, and Honda as well as General Motors’ Chevrolet, the Yonkers, N.Y.-based magazine said Wednesday. The results are from a December survey of 1,578 vehicle owners asked to rank brand attributes including quality, safety, value, design and technology.
“Over the last six months or so there has been a lot of visibility for that brand, a lot of media attention, so there’s more awareness for consumers,” said Tom Libby, an auto analyst for Polk in Southfield, Mich. Tesla’s rise in the rankings “can’t hurt as that is a highly respected publication that has no need to respond to any constituency.”
A surge in Tesla shares began in May, after the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company led by billionaire Elon Musk reported its first quarterly profit and Consumer Reports the next day gave the $71,000 battery-powered Model S a score matching the highest ever given to any vehicle. The magazine said in November that the Model S also topped its owner satisfaction poll, amid a review of the car by U.S. regulators after two crash-related battery fires.
The brand named for inventor Nikola Tesla got 88 points in the latest survey, up from 47 last year, ranking highly for “innovation, performance, and sleek styling,” Consumer Reports said. The company displaced Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz, which fell to seventh from fifth last year.
Toyota widened its lead in the survey, gaining five points to 145, to place ahead of Ford, which got 120, the magazine said. Honda slipped from second to third with 109 points, down 16 from a year ago, while Chevrolet gained 13 for a total of 105 points. Subaru, the auto brand of Fuji Heavy Industries, rose to sixth in the survey with 87 points from 13th a year earlier, the magazine said.
Continued improvements for Ford and Chevrolet in the rankings bode well for those brands, Libby said.
“One isolated indicator doesn’t mean that much, but as the accolades build one after the other it adds to the momentum that the changes are real,” he said.
Volvo Cars, the Swedish brand owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., ranked eighth, down from sixth, followed by GM’s Cadillac and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s BMW. Chrysler Group LLC’s Dodge and Hyundai Motor Co.’s namesake brand both fell out of the top 10, the magazine said.
The lowest-ranked brands were Jaguar and Land Rover, British luxury lines owned by India’s Tata Motors, and Fiat’s Maserati, according to Consumer Reports.
Tesla is scheduled to release fourth-quarter financial results on Feb. 19. Analysts on average estimate the company will post a profit, excluding some costs, of 18 cents a share, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The net loss may narrow to $2.4 million, or 2 cents a share, while sales may more than double to $668.6 million.