Tesla Motors is the most trusted auto brand in Canada despite its low sales, according to a university study reported by The Globe and Mail.

The University of Victoria’s second-annual Gustavson Brand Trust Index ranked Tesla at 11th overall, in front of all other auto brands sold in Canada. With Tesla only having sold about 4,300 electric cars in Canada, how did the electric carmaker end up in the top spot?

It has to do with Canadian consumers perceiving the brand as acting from a broader value perspective beyond value for the money spent. It’s more about how the company, “respects the environment, treats employees well, invests in the community and cares about societal well-being,” said Saul Klein, dean of the Gustavson School of Business.

Survey respondents under 35 (Canadian Millennials) gravitated more toward Tesla. That seemed to have been influenced by Tesla’s commitment to a fossil-fuel-free automotive future.

Tesla was added as a “disruptive brand,” and not because of its wide sales volume, Klein said.

Two other disruptive brands were included in the survey, but didn’t do so well. The Uber ride-hailing brand and Airbnb hotel-alternative brand finished at numbers 273 and 245, respectively. Uber finished near the bottom of the list as the index ranked 276 national brands within 27 industry sectors.

That may have to do with confrontations Uber has been having with cities and taxi drivers, according to The Globe and Mail. As for Airbnb, the company’s reputation for rental-market disruption and claims of racial discrimination could have placed it lower on the rankings, the Canadian newspaper said.

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The data was collected from 6,384 online surveys held between June 20 and July 8 of this year. The fatal crash in Florida involving the Autopilot system wasn’t announced as a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation until June 30, so that incident probably had little effect on the survey findings.

Volkswagen has seen the impact of changes in brand perception. The German automaker ranked in the middle of the pack of 215 brands rated in last year’s study but finished last this year about nine months after its emissions scandal broke.

“Brand trust takes a long time to build, but sharp drops are quite likely,” Klein said.

The Globe and Mail