Tesla Tops J.D. Power's 2020 APEAL Study

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【Summary】The analytics and consumer company’s study measures how much joy a new vehicle brings its owners. Unfortunately, the electric automaker’s score was unofficial.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Sep 02, 2020 6:30 AM PT
Tesla Tops J.D. Power's 2020 APEAL Study

Cars, in some form another, bring joy to all owners. Whether that joy comes from performance, the luxurious feel of a car, or the technology that's included with the vehicle, automakers try, at least they're supposed to, make cars that make their owners feel special. That much should be obvious, the ones that make owners happy, though, at least according to J.D. Power's latest 2020 APEAL Study, aren't. For instance, Tesla tops the list. But as many things with Tesla, there's a big caveat.

Tesla's Unofficial Score Dethrones Porsche

Before getting into the results, here's what the APEAL study considers. The study, now in its 25th year, measures owners' emotional attachment and level of excitement with their new car. Information is compiled across 37 attributes and this year's study examined 87,000 people. There is a wide range of things the study looks into, including performance and how luxurious a vehicle's interior feels.

Now for the rankings. Out of 14 major automakers that J.D. Power compiled data on, Tesla earned the highest score of 896 out of 1000. Unfortunately for Tesla, the all-electric automaker isn't technically included in the study. Tesla's score is ineligible because the brand "does not meet study award criteria." Unlike other automakers, Tesla does not allow representatives from J.D. Power to speak with owners in 15 states in the U.S., which is a requirement to be officially ranked by the company. So, while Tesla outscores all of the other automakers that were included in the study, it's not exactly in first place.

Still, it's worth noting that Tesla's score beat Porsche with a score of 881. That might not seem like a big difference, but Porsche has been at the top of the list in 15 of the past 16 years the study has been conducted. So, Tesla managing to score a better score than Porsche is impressive. Behind Porsche, the order goes Lincoln, Cadillac, BMW, and Land Rover. In the Mass Market category, the order went Dodge, Ram, GMC, Ford, MINI, and Kia.

Why Tesla's Score Is Surprising

Tesla's unofficial first-place finish is surprising to see, as the automaker came in dead last in J.D. Power's Initial Quality Study. The automaker's terrible ranking in that study was because of its lackluster build quality and abnormal irregularities. J.D. Power's APEAL Study doesn't look at that stuff and only really looks at things Tesla does well – comfort, overall appeal, high-tech features, and performance. In these areas, Tesla is a clear leader.

As Doug Betts, president of the automotive division at J.D. Power, put it in an article with Inside EVs, "Teslas have a cool factor that elevates the brand in the eyes of its owners." He also claims that owners are comfortable looking past all of Tesla's faults for things like "Ludicrous Speed, Autopilot, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and, of course, those doors on the Model X." What Betts is referring to, are the large SUV's falcon rear doors.

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