4
Apr

Consumers’ Positive Reaction to the New Tesla Model 3

 

Consumers' Positive Reaction to the New Tesla Model 3By: Jason Mantel, Senior Vice President

On Thursday March 31st, the world was introduced to the carefully planned unveiling of the new Tesla Model 3 at the Design Studio in Hawthorne, Calif. And it’s fair to say that the world was ready for the news. After all, more than 180,000 vehicles were ordered on the first day, according to the Wall Street Journal.

There’s a lot riding on the Tesla Model 3 both for Tesla itself, as this Slate article opines, and for the electric car market in general. At Morpace we quickly gathered insights and perceptions from our MyDrivingPower online community, a group of more than 300 U.S. based consumers that are current or recent owners of EVs or hybrids, and via our social media platform.

So what first impression did the smallest Tesla make on consumers? Overall, the first impressions of the Tesla Model 3 are generally positive. Morpace measured a net positive sentiment of 70 percent across the social media spectrum. But the good vibes go beyond just appearance or features. MyDrivingPower panelists were impressed with the affordability of the Tesla Model 3, which has a base price starting at $35,000. Beyond just the price point itself, there is a feeling of ‘value’ in the Model 3 offering. Specific quotes from our panelists included:

               “The Model 3 has made my goal of owning a Tesla possible.”

               “It is so much more at an affordable price point than any of the other electric cars.”

We see that consumers may have reached beyond customary automotive media outlets for learning about the Model 3. Instead, sites and blogs that provide technology news are bustling with traffic. We talked to members of our MyDrivingPower community of electric vehicle owners, who are looking to sources like Wired and TechCrunch for their Model 3 updates. These enthusiasts are visiting technology sites (49%) slightly more than automotive sites (44%) to learn more about this Tesla model. Tesla’s own website appears to be a similarly visited site. The introduction of an electric vehicle seems to transcend traditional classification, arguably being as much a ‘technological advancement’ as an ‘automotive advancement’.

As of today, Tesla is generating all the buzz with the anticipation of their Model 3. The number of Model 3 units pre-ordered is likely to rise in the coming months as more information becomes available and familiarity increases. But for today, when thinking about this vehicle and similar models from other manufacturers, our community of electric vehicle owners are leaning towards the Model 3, as compared to the Chevrolet Bolt.

Nearly 9in 10 members selected the Tesla Model 3 over the Chevrolet Bolt, perhaps the most closely similar model available (based on range and price) if they were in the market for a vehicle today. Specific quotes about the Tesla Model 3 included:

               “An industry changer.”

               “It makes all other cars seem old and out-of-date.”

Morpace will be closely following the journey of customers anticipating the Tesla Model 3 over the coming months.

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29
Jan

How Will Current Economic Conditions and Manufacturers Influence Millennial Car Buyers?

millennial_with_keys

By: Dave Emig, Research Director; Anthony Crechiolo, Market Research Intern

The average price of gasoline in the U.S. has continued to fall the past two years. This past year in particular, the average price of gasoline has fallen from $3.36 per gallon to just $2.42. That’s just over a 38% drop in one year. With many analysts indicating gasoline prices are to remain low into 2017, many wonder what kind of effect this will have on future vehicle sales in the U.S. The answer may lie in how 2015 evolved.

2015 was a record year for automotive sales, coming in at 17.5 million vehicles sold, a 5.7% increase from 2014. Digging deeper, we actually see a drop of over 2% in car sales from 2014 to 2015, while sales of large vehicles were up over 23%. Only looking at these numbers, it seems that Americans have a positive outlook towards the future and are putting their savings at the pump towards a bigger vehicle. This statement may be correct for Americans as a whole, but does it hold true for the next generation of car buyers, Millennials, who are just now entering into the car buying market?

In order to answer this question, I think it is important to first look at how buying a car for Millennials is different than previous generations.

Buying a car used to be a rite of passage to freedom, a way to connect with friends and escape from the parents’ sphere of influence. A car used to give you access to find and define yourself as a young adult. Because of how technology has allowed Millennials to be connected to everything at all times, they tend to break away from their parents’ sphere of influence at a much younger age. However, unlike previous generations, Millennials are entering adulthood at a much later age. Buying their first car still represents this next step into adulthood, but the difference is that this generation has already developed their individual identities before venturing out on their own.

Most Millennials are not entering adulthood until they have completed their secondary education and have found an entry-level job. At that point, they are moving out of the house, figuring out their student loan payments, budgeting daily expenses, putting money away for retirement, and to top it off, looking for a new car. Most entry-level jobs do not provide the income to spend a lavish amount on a vehicle, so Millennials are often restricted to the small or compact car segments because of the limited amount of disposable income they have available.

However, Millennials who are looking to purchase a vehicle have two macro circumstances that make right now the opportune time to purchase a car: low gas prices and low interest rates. There is also the idea, stated earlier, that older consumers’ demand may be shifting away from cars to larger vehicles. This change in demand would keep mid and full size sedan prices low in the short term, but Millennials will likely need convincing to move up from their compact and small car segments.

It seems that Millennials don’t put the same emotion or value on their first car as previous generations have because it doesn’t give them the same type of freedom, as they are already aware of their unique identity. A vehicle to them is more of a machine that serves a functional need – getting them from point A to point B.

But with cars having more connective technology than ever before, will automotive manufacturers use their advertising prowess to convince these first-time consumers that cars can not only keep you connected, but have space for their friends to tag along, too?

Currently, there are hardly any advertisements targeting this group of first time buyers. You see it over and over again, commercials for a mid to full size sedan that emphasize re-kindling that childhood passion. If the idea that the older consumer is shifting from purchasing cars to a larger vehicle is true, it might be time for automotive manufacturers to increase advertising towards the next generation for these types of vehicles. If we see a shift in advertising affordable mid to full size sedans to first time buyers, the automotive industry could continue to boom.

As a result of the recent recession, Millennials feel an increased emphasis on not overextending themselves financially. As you move further along in life and become more financially secure, then you can push your financial boundaries. This trend can be noticed with most Americans; as they move up in their career, they also move up in vehicle class. If automotive manufacturers realize this and are able to persuade these first-time buyers into the purchase of a larger vehicle, they will make more money over time, since this type of buyer moves up the career path more quickly because of their higher starting point.

Will automotive manufacturers be able to persuade Millennials to spend the extra disposable income they have available on upgrading their first car purchase? Or will they just accept that first-time car buyers will come in at a lower vehicle segment and spend their extra dollars on other technology that will continue to make their lives more connected? The future of the automotive industry is in the hands of Millennials—the next generation of savvy consumers.

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12
Jan

Your Car Might be Watching You in the Near Future

Eye viewing digital information. Conceptual image.

By: Michael Schmall, Vice President; Sara Beauchaine, Marketing Associate

Google, Apple, Tesla, and leading car manufacturers around the world are well on their way to producing autonomous vehicles, with the expectation that some of these cars will be on dealership lots within the next 10 years.

Autonomous qualities are already being incorporated in vehicles, and, for example, can be seen in Tesla’s products as “Autopilot”. This technology utilizes multiple sensors, radar, cameras, and sonar to pick up on road lane lines and other vehicles, allowing the car to essentially drive itself on expressways. This technology requires the driver to—at the very least—keep one finger on the wheel.

With advancements in technology such as “Autopilot” leading the way, a logical question looms on the horizon: Will artificial intelligence eventually come into the equation of manufacturing vehicles to be completely autonomous?

Artificial intelligence has been around for years, and within reach of consumers. It can be seen in Apple’s Siri, GPS units, and many other devices. Automotive companies like Toyota are now investing heavily in artificial intelligence, and technology tinkerers are attempting to bolster autonomous cars’ driving abilities with this technology.

One of these tinkerers is George Hotz. 26-year-old Hotz not only built a self-driving car in his garage by himself, but is also programming it with artificial intelligence—rather than manually coded technology. According to a recent article, Hotz revealed that incorporating artificial intelligence software in self-driving cars will help avoid the common roadblocks currently experienced by other autonomous test vehicles.

Some of the common obstacles currently facing manually coded autonomous technology, like the Google car, include:

  • Human hand signals (such as those from an officer directing traffic)
  • Small animals crossing the road (larger living creatures, such as deer and jaywalkers, are sensed by the car)
  • Bad weather (snow, fog, and splashing ground water interferes with how the car receives and interprets information)
  • Areas with no cell signal (operation ceases without a connection to a cell signal, as critical access to GPS maps is cut off)

Hotz believes that some of these obstacles can be avoided by employing “deep-learning techniques in autonomous technology”.

Artificial intelligence software, like what Hotz is producing, watches the driver’s behavior. It learns as it observes how certain situations are typically handled by the human driver, and then makes its own decisions by mimicking these learned behaviors and actions when operating autonomously.

If artificial intelligence can truly be utilized for autonomous vehicles, we may soon find solutions to some of the issues that need to be resolved before these cars can be introduced to the market. There is a possibility that soon, cars might be watching you, too!

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