The automotive industry is the fifth most-trusted business sector in Australia, but buyers have more faith in some brands over others.
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Japanese car giant Toyota has once again been named the most trusted car brand in Australia, but consumers have increasing faith in electric-car challenger brand Tesla – and 'distrust' Holden and Volkswagen, new research has found.

According to automotive and transport data from Roy Morgan's annual Risk Report for 2020 – an annual survey of more than 7000 respondents – Toyota is held in high regard, followed by Mazda in second place and Tesla in third place.

While Toyota and Mazda regularly claim the top spots in reliability and customer sentiment surveys such as this one, the real surprise is Tesla, which climbed from seventh place in 2019 to knock Honda out of third spot in 2020.

Tesla only launched in the Australian market in 2014 and has steadfastly abstained from sharing its local sales figures. Currently, only three Tesla vehicles are available to buy in Australia – the Model S, Model 3 and Model X.

Mercedes-Benz was another brand that climbed the list this year, from eighth place in 2019 to fifth place in 2020. Meanwhile, both Mitsubishi and Kia fell out of the top 11 most trusted brands from 2019 to 2020, replaced by new entrants BMW and Uber.

Uber – the only ride-share service to appear in the top 11 – is included in the data as part of the transport segment, while the automotive segment tracks 35 major brands including car manufacturers and dealers, mechanic service brands, and tyre and spare parts suppliers.

"Only two car manufacturers are distrusted overall: Volkswagen and Holden, a response to the former’s emissions scandal and the latter’s closing of Australian facilities," Roy Morgan said. Both brands were also distrusted in 2019.

"Poor quality product or service, dishonesty and unaffordability are the key themes for Australians who distrust brands in the automotive industry," Roy Morgan said.

In further Roy Morgan data from April 2020 – gathered during the COVID-19 crisis – the automotive industry was the fifth most-trusted industry in the country, behind the retail sector in first place, the supermarket sector in second and consumer products in third place.

Overall, Roy Morgan found "more Australians trust brands in [the automotive and transport] industry than distrust these brands".

Australia's 10 most trusted automotive brands for 2020

  1. Toyota
  2. Mazda
  3. Tesla
  4. Honda
  5. Mercedes-Benz
  6. Subaru
  7. Nissan
  8. Hyundai
  9. Ford
  10. Uber
  11. BMW

Australia's 10 most trusted automotive brands in 2019

  1. Toyota
  2. Mazda
  3. Honda
  4. Subaru
  5. Nissan
  6. Hyundai
  7. Tesla
  8. Mercedes-Benz
  9. Kia
  10. Ford
  11. Mitsubishi

Source: Roy Morgan Research.