Toyota was the most searched auto brand in 2023, but Tesla still dominates EV queries

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2023 was yet another pivotal year for EVs as the segment began to expand beyond early adopters and into the early majority. What should come as no surprise to most people is that American automaker Tesla dominated Google Trends search data for EVs last year. Still, gas and hybrid specialist Toyota remained the most searched auto brand, not by any specific state.

Table of contents

Studying the most searched auto and EV brands online

While EVs continue to dominate the global mobility conversation, there are still plenty of hurdles to overcome before we can truly reach mass adoption. While the percentage of EVs continues to grow on roads around the US and the planet as a whole, that segment still makes up a minority compared to traditional combustion vehicles.

In fact, four of the ten most searched automotive brands in 2023 had one or fewer battery electric vehicles (BEVs) available in the US market last year. to determine these comparisons, MarketWatch Guides put together its own study of the top searched automotive brands and their respective models using key Google data. Here’s how it was gathered.

Methodology

The data used in MarketWatch Guides’ study consisted of Google Trends search volume data in the US across 12 months between September 2022 and September 2023. The key search terms analyzed were automotive-related and pertained to electric and combustion car makes and models.

In order to determine which terms were most and least associated with each state, MarketWatch either ranked by total search volume in millions, search volume per capita, or compared state data to the average for all of the US.

As a result, the highest above-average searches determined the most associated terms to each state, while the lowest below-average searches enabled the least associated terms.

2023 Toyota bZ4X (Source: Toyota)

Toyota was the most searched brand in the US

Toyota has led global market share in automotive for years, even as more and more brands go all-electric. Speaking of electric, Tesla continues to dominate the EV market in the US, but has even gained ground on legacy automakers like GM, Ford, and of course Toyota.

Although Toyota hails itself as an “electrified” brand, it currently only offers one fully electric model in the US – the bZ4X. Still, the makers of the Prius, RAV4, and Tacoma dominated the searches on Google, according to MarketWatch Guides’ study.

Here’s how the top ten most searched automakers in the US broke down:

Automaker Google Search Volume*
1. Toyota 37.6 million
2. Tesla 34.6 million
3. Honda 22.2 million
4. Ford 20.3 million
5. Hyundai 18.6 million
6. RAM 17.1 million
7. BMW 15.7 million
8. Kia 15.4 million
9. Mercedes-Benz 15.1 million
10. Subaru 14.9 million
* – In millions, from September 2022 to September 2023

While Toyota garnered over 3 million more US Google searches than runner-up Tesla, the Japanese automaker was not the most searched brand in any single state compared to the national average, nor was it the least searched marque in any of those territories either.

On the other hand, Tesla was the most popular automaker in one state – Nevada. That being said, it was also the least associated automaker in a whopping eleven states compared to the national average:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • New Hampshire
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Wisconsin

Despite being the least searched brand in one-fifth of the country, Tesla is still a huge part of the national automotive conversation online and remains the darling of the EV segment (although many other competitors are catching up).

(Source: Tesla)

Tesla dominates the most searched for EVs in the US

While Tesla may have come in second to Toyota in overall Google search volume during the 12-month study, its four most popular models dominate MarketWatch’s top-ten list of most searched EVs in the US. Here’s the full list:

* – In millions, from September 2022 to September 2023

Note that when data from this study was gathered, the Tesla Cybertruck hadn’t launched and begun deliveries yet; otherwise, there’s a solid chance that all five of Tesla’s available passenger EVs crack the top ten in most searched in the US.

Even amongst the four Tesla models, there is a huge drop in searches between the more affordable Model Y and Model 3 EVs and the longer-running and more premium X and S models – more than half.

The bottom five behind Tesla are all pretty evenly spaced in terms of most searched volume and is on par with the more popular and established models we at Electrek tend to cover regularly. The way the EV landscape if shaping the rest of the industry, imploring more and more consumers to seek more details, it will be interesting to see how Google search data compares a year from now.

I’d personally wager Toyota loses its top spot to Tesla and we see automakers like Hyundai and Kia garner a larger audience of Google users. We will check in again next year!

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