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Fleets rank Ford, Tesla at top of electrified auto brands list

The study says that among light-duty brands, startups such as Rivian and Lordstown lag behind legacy automakers.

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Escalent, a human behavior and analytics advisory firm, has published the latest findings from Fleet Advisory Hub, a report that examines fleet decision-makers’ familiarity with and opinions of brands with electrified vehicle plans, across duty segments, as well as their likelihood of considering products from each brand for fleet implementation.

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“With respect to electric vehicles, Tesla has carved out a unique position of ubiquity and alignment with the overall movement,” said Michael Schmall, automotive & mobility vice president at Escalent. “However, Ford is the clear winner from a consideration standpoint among fleet decision-makers, a position it has reinforced with the introduction of the electrified Ford F-150 Lightning.”

Among the key findings are clear indicators for the automotive industry’s biggest brands:

  • Ford and Tesla earn top marks for EV applications in light- and medium-/heavy-duty fleets.
  • Tesla is the brand most synonymous and emblematic of the electrification movement, viewed as the “absolute leader for electrification” by approximately half of both light-duty and medium-/heavy-duty fleet participants. This reflects similar Escalent EVForward findings, wherein retail consumers are most aware of Tesla as a leading manufacturer of electric vehicles.
  • Among light-duty brands, startups such as Rivian and Lordstown lag behind legacy automakers and their observable products and accelerating marketing campaigns.

“Startup brands have a lot of catching up to do among light-duty fleet decision-makers, where familiar brands and their electrified products dominate mindshare,” Schmall added. “The story is a bit different for those operating medium- and heavy-duty fleets, as few tangible products in this segment can be seen on the road, offering a more level playing field.”

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The study also provides a closer look at the factors most likely to influence EV adoption among fleet decision-makers. Total cost of ownership (TCO) leads the factors most influential to adoption—though clarity also lacks, with many uncertain of EVs’ impact to the traditional TCO calculation. Fleet decision-makers are also considering electrification potential around uptime, a brand’s reputation or their relationship with it, charging and infrastructure concerns, and information available about brands’ EV offerings–including services to ease a transition to electric vehicles.

Among fleet decision-makers, the road map for implementation has begun to come into focus. Along with the needed definition for adjusting the TCO calculation, the study identifies fleet decision-makers’ perspective for the expected timeline to achieve operating cost parity with their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts, with most expecting to reach that point after two to three years of integrating an EV.

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