While Tesla is a lot of things, does the word “trustworthy” come to mind? Depends on who you ask.
Although the electric vehicle maker has faced a few hiccups over the years stemming from being less-than-forthcoming about recalls and overhyping the capabilities of its autonomous vehicle technology, Tesla has also raked in quality awards and dominated in the EV sales bracket.
Score another point for Tesla’s market perception with the results of a recent survey by Auto Pacific, an automotive consulting and marketing research company. The agency recently asked drivers between 18 and 80 which of 56 automakers they most trusted to develop fully autonomous vehicles, and they picked – you guessed it – Elon Musk and his team at Tesla.
But why? Tesla’s Level 2 driver assist functionality, dubbed Autopilot, has been the direct recipient of years of bad press as drivers have taken their eyes off the road – literally – and over-relied on an imperfect and still-developing system. The results have been, in some cases, deadly — though Tesla has stressed that its developments are functioning as intended and user error is to blame.
In many cases, Tesla is right, but the negative press hasn’t stopped Elon Musk from the hubris that comes naturally to him, and as Tesla has selectively rolled out Beta versions of what it calls “full self driving,” he’s been accused of using the public as guinea pigs for a feature with a lot of development to go.
Despite all this, Auto Pacific’s survey tells us something: perfect or not, Tesla's relentless pursuit of driverless technology under the watchful eye of auto and mainstream journalists alike has probably worked in its favor. Emerging as a favorite in this survey suggests that consumers view Tesla as a technology leader.
CNet’s Roadshow called the results “both expected and surprising.” Notably, 32% chose Tesla as most trusted, compared to 16% who said Chevrolet and 14% who said Ford. The latter two automakers are also hard at work on their own advanced driver assistance, though, true to nature, Elon Musk is the one who makes the most noise.