But don't just take our word for it: take Google's. According to the 800-pound search-engine gorilla, Tesla was the most-searched auto brand of the year in the U.S.A. As you can see from this chart, interest in the company hit peaks and valleys, with the peaks often coming around high-profile news events. Tesla finished the year very strong, with searchers more than twice as interested in the company at the end of 2013 than they were in January.
Interest was most pronounced in areas of the country where Tesla has a strong presence, with California easily coming in at #1. Not surprisingly, surfers in San Francisco -- just down the road from Tesla headquarters in Palo Alto -- googled Tesla more often than residents of any other city, followed by those in San Diego, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin, Washington, D.C., and Sacramento.
Bugatti and MINI grabbed the second- and third-place spots, respectively, with Ford being the top-ranked Detroit automaker, followed by Jeep, Toyota, GMC, Dodge, Subaru, and Mazda. The buzz about Ford faded a bit over the year, with a significant dip in early November (right around the time that Tesla was nabbing search-engine share due to some battery fires), and curiously, the reveal of the new Mustang didn't do much to boost it.
That said, Ford still scores very high on Google's rankings, with most interest coming from the Midwest. Surfers in Michigan were most likely to google the company, followed by those in North Dakota, Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, West Virginia, and Oklahoma. The same holds true for metro areas, with Odessa, Tx and Bismarck, ND grabbing the #1 and #2 ranks, followed by Detroit, Terre Haute, Sioux Falls, and Sioux City.
Detroit fared even better in terms of individual models: the Corvette Stingray was the most-searched vehicle of 2013, followed by the Chevrolet Camaro, Honda Civic, Honda Accord, and Jeep Wrangler.
Another Chevrolet -- the Volt -- was tops in search trends, meaning that the volume of people googling the car grew more than for any other vehicle during 2013. The Acura NSX, Fiat 500, Chevrolet Sonic, and Ford Focus rounded out the trending top five.
For more on Tesla and the Volt and why they scored so well in this year's search rankings, pay a visit to our colleagues at Green Car Reports.