Honda jumped two spots to top Google’s luxury-heavy “Year in Search” list of the trending automotive brands in the U.S.
Under Google’s new ranking methodology, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla were the only brands that remained on the list this year. Each moved up on the list in 2016.
The 2016 results aren’t directly comparable with last year’s. The 2015 ranking was based on “most-searched” names while 2016’s methodology used “trending” names. A Google spokeswoman described trending data as those names with the highest and most-sustained spikes of search traffic.
Honda stepped up from third place in 2015 to replace Chevrolet at No. 1 in 2016. The Honda brand maintained a high level of interest throughout the year with increased numbers of search queries revolving around future products such as the 2017 HR-V, CR-V and Pilot.
Mercedes-Benz moved from fourth to second place. The brand took Dodge’s spot. Among the top search queries related to Mercedes-Benz were the GLC300 and the Maybach Exelero.
Tesla leapt from No. 10 in 2015 to No. 3 in 2016 with a peak in searches from March 27 to April 2 amid the March 31 unveiling of its Model 3 design. Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was also a “2016 Breakout Search.” Google reported searches of Musk’s name peaked the week of Sept. 25 when his SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle exploded at liftoff.
Lamborghini came in fourth place. "Purple Lamborghini" was a popular search query relating to Lamborghini. The song "Purple Lamborghini" was featured in the movie Suicide Squad and released in January.
Volvo took the No. 5 spot. “Volvo Car Stadium,” where the 2016 Volvo Car Open women’s tennis tournament took place, was a top user search. There were also bursts of interest in July and August for the search “Volvo wedding commercial.” The commercial was met with attention, praise and, sometimes, confusion from viewers.
Ford, the last of the three nonluxury brands to make the list, was No. 6. One of the top search queries related to Ford surrounded the death of actor Tommy Ford in October. Tommy Ford is unrelated to the Ford automotive brand. For auto interest in Ford, user searches spiked for the 2018 Bronco in October. The chairman of UAW Local 900’s bargaining unit for Ford's plant in Wayne, Mich., said at the time the Bronco would be revived and built at the plant.
Jaguar was No. 7, with top search queries surrounding the 2017 Jaguar XE. Users also searched for renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. Hawking was part of Jaguar’s “British Villains” advertising campaign.
Nearly all search queries dedicated to eighth-place Bentley were for country singer Dierks Bentley, except for interest in the 2017 Bentley Mulsanne.
Maserati took ninth for the Bugatti Chrion. Rolls-Royce was tenth on the list with searches for the Phantom and Dawn vehicles.
Those 2015 “most-searched” brands that lost their spots on the 2016 “trending” list: No. 1 Chevrolet, No. 2 Dodge, No. 5 Volkswagen, No. 6 General Motors, No. 7 Lexus, No. 8 Mazda and No. 9 Porsche.
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