What Your Electric Car Says About You

As an American, I take a certain amount of pride in the high standard of living made possible via an economy built on liquified dinosaurs (sweet sweet fossil fuels).  There are some subversive elements in our society, however, that would like their grandchildren to have breathable air and non-poisonous water.  They have elected to drive electric cars.  While this post is not sponsored by the kind, almost Colonel Sanders-esque, big oil companies, I am sure they would appreciate our attempt to shine a light on these alternative energy deviants.  So let us consider the Prius, the Tesla Model S, and their devotees.

In this case, a minimal level of interest in a specific automobile model was used to define a set of users across the Gravity personalization network. A total of 900,000 Prius fans and 183,000 Tesla Model S aficionados met our selection criteria. Their individual Interest Graphs had previously been created for the purposes of personalization of content; every click on content or advertising within the network is analyzed semantically and augments the nodes and edge weights for the engaged user.

When analyzing audiences, the individual graphs are coalesced into a single graph reflecting the aggregated interests and attachment levels for the entire set. This allows for a holistic view of the audience which can then be compared against another audience or the general population of hundreds of millions of users. In this way, we are able to establish what defines an audience and what makes them special. The results are often quite surprising.

Let’s take a look at the Prius cohort highlights.


The first data set is the overall Interest Graph on the left of the infographic.  It describes what folks interested in the Prius care most about.

  • They really like technology, with a strong emphasis on Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and Bioengineering.
  • Among their favorite media are The Atlantic and the New York Times.  They are closely following matters related to international security and right-wing politics (not necessarily because they agree with them).
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, they are keenly interested in Eco-friendly subject matters and Social Change.

The second data pivot highlights some of the areas of interest where Prius fans differ substantially from the global set of users.  Basically, it’s what makes Prius fans special compared to everyone else in the world.  The results are expressed as an over/under index compared to global set.  Some of the results are surprising (this is why we like data mining).  Compared with the global set, Prius fans are:

  • 1.2 times more likely to enjoy physical exercise
  • 2.5 times more likely to like Yoga
  • 1.3 times more likely to be interested in McDonald’s
  • 9.1 times more likely to dig Tyler Perry
  • 13.6 times more likely to love Apple
  • Slightly less likely to be interested NASCAR, Football, and Waffles (their Sundays must be so empty)
  • 6.3 times more likely to be concerned about Sustainability
  • Just as likely to enjoy Ninjas as everybody else

By the time we got the Prius data together we were in a full data mining extravaganza.  There was no way we could let the fun stop with just one infographic.  How about people who are interested in the Tesla Model S?  It’s another electric car.  How different could that audience be from the Prius  folks?


Turns out that people interested in the Tesla Model S are materially different in their interests than the Prius crowd.  Let’s look at some of the highlights of  the Model S fans’ aggregated Interest Graph.

  • Environmentalism is not a substantial area of interest in the Tesla Model S Interest Graph.  This may indicate that Tesla interest is driven by the technological or aspirational aspects of the brand rather than it’s environmental benefits.  This is supported by the fact that, while the Tesla audience is 8.5 times more likely to be interested in fuel efficiency than the general population, Prius fans are 4x more likely to be interested than the Tesla folks (34x general population).
  • Business and finance were dominant categories of interest.  Interest rates, economics, the economy of Saudi Arabia, and bubbles, both real estate and economic, were high on the list.
  • They are thirsty.  Maker’s Mark, breweries, and Jim Beam are Tesla aficionado favorites.
  • They like things that go.  private transportation, Ferraris, and motorcycles were of high interest.
  • Their lifestyle interests are a mixed bag.  While family topped the category, Tesla fans do exhibit abnormally high levels of interest in cannabis, erotic dance, strip clubs, and Lululemon.  It is unclear from the data available whether the Model S/”big night out” relationship is causal or simply correlated.

On the left, you’ll see some of the traits that differentiate Tesla fans from the global set of users.  As with the Prius set, the results are expressed as an over/under index compared to global set.   Compared with the global set, Tesla fans are:

  • 2.5 times more likely to be wired on coffee
  • 90% more likely to be interested in social issues
  • 5.2 times more likely to be interested in cannabis
  • 4.1 times more likely to like magazines
  • 41.8 times more likely to be interested in SpaceX
  • 3.8 times more likely to like Evernote
  • 10.7 times more likely to dig Marissa Mayer
  • 96 times more likely to be concerned about traffic congestion

Let’s take it home with some Tesla versus Prius comparisons.

  • Prius fans are 28.1 times more likely to be interested in wearable computers than Tesla fans.
  • Prius fans are 3.3 times more likely to be interested in cannabis than the general population, but Tesla fans are 44% more likely than Prius folks to enjoy.
  • Prius fans are 1.62 times more likely to be interested in sustainable transportations than Tesla fans.
  • Tesla and Prius fans are both more than twice as likely to be into music than the general population.

I hope you enjoyed these audience analyses as much as we enjoyed doing them.  Let us know if you have ideas on data you’d like to see in the future.

23 thoughts on “What Your Electric Car Says About You

  1. How fun. I wish you had checked in on the zombie fetish too. How was the initial population of “fans” selected (i.e., is the absolute number meaningful, or just a reflection of the sample size)?

    And I am wondering if the text explains the infographic properly. In the top Prius graph, for example, if a topic like television rates 0.5, doesn’t that mean that the Prius fan is 2x less interested in television than the general public… and a negative score for NASCAR and Football means an average dislike of the topic?

    • Hey Steve! So awesome to have team Tesla check out the data.

      When users interact with a sufficient quantity of Prius or Tesla content on our partner sites, it increases the strength of attachment of that interest within their interest graph. The sample consists of folks with a meaningful (statistically relevant for recommendation purposes) level of interest in the topic.

      We probably should make the info in the bar chart more clear. A 0.5 means that they are 50% more likely to be interested than an average internet user. A negative score indicates a less than normal likelihood of being interested.

      I have to tell you, SpaceX is an enormous node in my own interest graph 🙂

  2. I loved this. It reminds me of the conclusion bit where it is determined that the evidence points to one conclusion but in reality it is all made up. There was a bit on SNL where Eddie Murray was doing the news and said something about being Black. Turns out he was white and it was just a story. You have to see it to understand it. By the way I am a Honda Fit man

  3. My brother is a car designer and has been involved in the production/design of some really excited new fuel/electric hybrid models. Hopefully it takes on in Australia too!

  4. There was a Freakonomics Podcast on “Conspicuous Consumption” and it had to do with the premium people pay for Prius cars. It was fascinating and I can see why there’s a “cult of Prii” haha!

    Cool post, highly recommend the Freakonomics episode, you’d love it.


  5. I love the post. I am a Prius owner and I don’t fit into most of your graph. Yoga, sustainability, and exercise are the only things that I agree with.

  6. Pingback: Wie rijdt er in een Tesla? - Groen7

  7. Pingback: Tesla fans hoofdzakelijk geïnteresseerd in sex, geld en cannabis | eGear.be

  8. Pingback: Tesla fans zeer geïnteresseerd in sex, geld en cannabis | eGear.nl

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