The trust scores of most car companies declined last year amid ongoing delivery delays and stock shortages, but one brand appears to have handled the pandemic better than others.
Toyota has topped the list of Australia’s most-trusted car brands for 2021 – the second such survey in as many months – in a year that saw buyers gravitate to companies they trust during the pandemic.
However, while it was good news for Toyota, Australian new-car buyers are becoming more cautious towards the automotive industry in general – as ongoing delivery delays due to chronic stock shortages eroded trust with consumers.
According to Roy Morgan’s annual Risk Report – which polled 21,487 Australian consumers on their attitudes towards major brands – many automotive trust scores decreased in 2021 compared to previous years.
“Overall, the sector is considered ‘neutral’ with the same proportion of Australians offering unprompted mentions of distrusted automotive brands as trusted ones. In previous reports, the (car) industry was marginally trusted,” said the latest report by Roy Morgan.
Toyota claimed first place in Roy Morgan’s annual trust rankings for the fourth year in a row – since the inception of the survey in March 2018.
This sentiment was also reflected in Toyota’s annual sales, which was market leader for 19 years in a row in 2021, and continues to represent more than one in five of all new vehicles sold.
It’s the second time in two months Toyota has topped a survey of the most-trusted car brands, having also claimed first place in the annual Reader’s Digest Trusted Brands Survey for the 17th year running.
Other popular brands struggled in the latest Roy Morgan trust score survey.
Despite claiming second place in 2020, Tesla dropped out of the top 10 most-trusted automotive brands for 2021, with consumers now rating their attitudes towards the electric car specialist as ‘neutral’.
“Despite founder Elon Musk being named (Time Magazine) 2021 person of the year, Tesla has actually fallen into the ‘neutral’ category, with an increase in distrust cancelling out the brand’s trust,” the Roy Morgan report said.
“The increase in distrust was mostly driven by a disdain for the company’s founder, Elon Musk.”
Most-trusted car brands in Australia 2021
Source: Roy Morgan Risk Report 2021
The only automotive brand with more consumer distrust than trust was Volkswagen, although it was joined in the ‘distrust’ category by ride-share service Uber.
“Volkswagen’s global emissions scandal was mentioned by numerous respondents, despite occurring six years ago. This scandal was clearly still top of mind for many Australians,” the Roy Morgan report said.
Roy Morgan’s report currently tracks trust scores for 33 automotive brands, but also gathers data on major brands in multiple industries across the country.
“Australians’ reasons for trusting automotive brands are often based on their personal experiences with the vehicles, their reliability and quality of service,” the report said.
“Representative comments include ‘I own one and love them. Reliable and somewhat easy to work on. They’re fun cars, make good reliable products which perform as expected’,” the company said.
Susannah Guthrie has been a journalist since she was 18, and has spent the last two years writing about cars for Drive, CarAdvice, CarSales and as a motoring columnist for several in-flight and hotel magazines. Susannah’s background is news journalism, followed by several years spent in celebrity journalism, entertainment journalism and fashion magazines and a brief stint hosting a travel TV show for Channel Ten. She joined Drive in 2020 after spending a year and a half at the helm of Harper’s BAZAAR and ELLE’s online platforms. Susannah holds a Bachelor in Media and Communications from the University of Melbourne and cut her teeth as an intern for Time Inc in New York City. She has also completed a television presenting course with the National Institute of Dramatic Art. She lives in Melbourne with her husband and her one-year-old son who, despite her best efforts, does not yet enjoy a good road trip.