It’s that time of year again when Google, the world’s most popular web-search engine that handles well over a billion search queries a day, reveals all kinds of metrics about what Internet denizens sought online.
Considering all the hubbub this year over Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA), it’s not surprising that it tops the list of most popular auto-company searches on Google. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based luxury electric-sedan maker accelerated its global expansion this year, began fleshing out its network of complimentary quick-charge stations in the U.S. and Europe, and defended against any insinuations about the safety of the Model S sedan following three high-profile car fires in the fourth quarter.
On top of actual and relevant company-related news, the Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk maintained a strong media presence with his occasional pontifications on the future of transport and space exploration that kept his name, and the names of his companies, Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity, alive in the press and in the public’s collective awareness. This year, Musk’s face graced the covers of Time, The Atlantic and Forbes, and writers – more than aware of Tesla’s ability to attract Web traffic – pushed out copy on every conceivable angle to the Tesla narrative.
Interesting to note that queries pertaining to the price of the Model S was one of the more popular Tesla-related search queries. In case you’re wondering: In the U.S. the vehicle’s base price is $63,570 for the 60 kWh (208-mile rage) battery; $73,570 for the 85 kWh, 265-mile-range battery; and $87,070 for the Performance model that has extra horsepower and acceleration. The prices exclude any local or federal electric-vehicle incentives, which lower the price, as well as any options that could quickly turn the Model S into a six-figure luxury car.
Following Tesla, the second-most popular query of auto manufacturers in 2013 was Bugatti, the French maker of the Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse, which in April officially became the fastest street-legal roadster in the world at just over 254 miles per hour. Considering the $1.3 million price tag for the Grand Sport Vitesse, it’s safe to assume people are searching for Bugatti to fantasize about being behind the wheel of the Jozej Kaban-designed head-turning two-door coupe.
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The Mini Cooper from Germany’s Daimler AG (FRA:DAI) came in as the third-most popular Google search query for auto manufacturers, helped along by the buzz behind the revamped range of Minis due out next year. The new Minis will be larger, adding more interior space. The John Cooper Works Concept Mini, scheduled to be revealed at the Detroit auto show next month, also added to the interest.
Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) took the cake as the most popular major auto manufacturer, thanks in large part to the U.S. obsession with the company’s F-150 pickup truck, the best-selling vehicle in the country. The Ford Focus sedan, Explorer SUV and Escape compact crossover were top searches related to Ford.
Here are the other six top auto manufacturer queries submitted to Google this year:
Jeep and Dodge
Owing to the popularity of the Cherokee, Grand Cherokee and Wrangler, Jeep ranked as the fifth-most popular auto-company-related search query. It’s one of two of Chrysler Group LLC’s divisions to make it to the top 10 list this year. Dodge came in at No. 8 thanks to the mass appeal for its Ram pickup truck, the reintroduced Dart sedan and the Challenger muscle car.
The world’s top automaker by sales volume – the only automaker to have topped 10 million in unit sales in a year – ranks No. 6 on the list of top auto-company Google queries. The Camry, the world’s best-selling sedan, was a big reason for the interest. Also, the 2014 Corolla that was introduced this year helped generate interest in the Japanese auto giant. The Tacoma pickup truck was also a focus of Toyota-related searches.
The only search query related to General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) to make the list was for the division responsible for the GMC Sierra pickup truck, the Yukon SUV and the Acadia crossover. Top news-related searches for GMC focused on the 2014 Sierra, the company’s trucks and the Denali nameplate.
Subaru and Mazda
The smaller Japanese automakers beat out Honda and Nissan, which didn’t make the list this year. Subaru’s Impreza and the Impreza’s performance variants, the WRX and the WRX STI, helped peak online interest. The Outback wagon and Forester crossover – two models with strong owner loyalty – were also top Subaru-related searches. The Mazda3 compact, the Mazda6 full sized sedan – both having received major updates for the 2014 model year – attracted enough interest to put the 17th-largest automaker near the top of the Google search pile for 2013.