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Press Release: Ford is the most trusted brand whilst VW fails to make top 10

Context of emissions scandal:

In early September the Environmental Protection Agency in the USA found that VW had been selling cars with software that concealed true emission rates when being tested. When tested emissions beat the lab limits, but when on the road with these emission controls switched off, cars would emit up to 40 times the legal levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx).

The emission scandal has since spread from the US to become a global issue and VW has admitted that up to 11m cars globally were fitted with this ‘defeat device’. Reports also show that the software has been fitted to Audi, Seat and Skoda vehicles.

Most recently issues have been raised about irregularities in carbon dioxide emission levels with VW’s in Europe this time potentially affecting petrol as well as diesel cars.

VW now face potential fines through the US Clean Air Act of up to $18bn in penalties (up to $37,500 per car).

Survey Question:

 Q: Which of the following car brands do you trust?
Alfa Romeo











Land Rover


















None of these

Don’t know


Overview of results:

Results indicated of the 2735 people taking part in the online survey Ford was the most trusted brand (29%) closely followed by BMW (27%) and Audi (25%). (see table 1)

The five lowest ranked automotive brands were Skoda (5%), Seat 4%), Subaru (4%), Smart (3%) and Suzuki (3%). Volkswagen was trusted by just 10% alongside Porsche and Volvo.

There is however a generational split (see table 2). Whilst BMW , Audi and Mercedes-Benz are most trusted by under 18 year olds, for older generations and in particular over 35 year olds Ford becomes the most trusted brand.

What does this mean?
Lisa Bedwell, Senior Director at Future Thinking comments: “The best-selling car brands for the first quarter of 2015 according to SMMT data were Ford, Vauxhall and Volkswagen and the success of car sales for Ford is also reflected in it being the most trusted brand, especially for older generations. By comparison, despite strong sales, trust in Vauxhall is certainly a lot lower and it is an indication that there is work to be done in improving their brand’s image.

For Volkswagen where UK sales have dropped in the last month amid the emissions scandal, the level of trust is certainly now far lower than would have been expected. Consumers are clearly re-evaluating their perceptions of the brand and it faces a difficult time re-building trust and loyalty in the coming months. Interestingly trust in the Audi brand remains strong despite the wider group being implicated in the emissions scandal.”

Table 1: Overview of results

Brand trust %
Ford 29
BMW 27
Audi 25
Mercedes-Benz 18
Jaguar 15
Honda 14
Land Rover 13
Vauxhall 13
Toyota 12
None of these 11
Don’t know 11
Porsche 10
Volkswagen 10
Volvo 10
Citroen 9
Mini 9
Nissan 9
Peugeot 9
Fiat 8
Alfa Romeo 7
Hyundai 7
Jeep 7
Kia 7
Mazda 6
Renault 6
Mitsubishi 5
Skoda 5
Seat 4
Subaru 4
Smart 3
Suzuki 3


Table 2: Split by age

Under 18 years:

  • Top three: BMW (41%) Audi (36%) Mercedes-Benz (28%)
  • Bottom three: Smart (2%) Seat (4%) Suzuki & Skoda (6%)
  • VW: 18%

18 – 34 years:

  • Top three: BMW (34%) Audi (31%) Ford (27%)
  • Bottom three: Smart (2%) Subaru & Suzuki (3%), Mitsubishi, Seat, Skoda (4%)
  • VW: 11%

35 – 54 years:

  • Top three: Ford (29%) Audi (26%) BMW (24%)
  • Bottom three: Suzuki (4%) Subaru & Seat (5%), Skoda (6%)
  • VW: 8%

55+ years:

  • Top three: Ford (30%) BMW (23%) Mercedes (19%)
  • Bottom three: Smart, Seat, Suzuki (3%) Subaru (4%), Mitsubishi, Jeep, Fiat (5%)
  • VW: 9%

Media contacts

John Whittaker, Future Thinking: 01865 336 400;
Amy Williams/Karl Wiseman /Lizzy Chesters, Redleaf: 0207 382 4747;

Notes to editors

Future Thinking takes a consultative approach to market research with commercial focus driving everything we do. That’s why we focus our attention on the three key areas that drive competitive advantage: Launch, Communicate, Experience.

We’re a global company of researchers, marketeers, statisticians, strategists, innovators, creatives and industry experts, integrating qual, quant and analytics through the latest technologies, to deliver research that engages audiences and drives action.

Our mission is to deliver consumer and business insights that tells stories, inspires action and travels within an organisation, long after the debrief.

For more information, visit: or follow us on Twitter: @FutureThinkHQ



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