02 December 2022

Cars On Screen

With more and more people now switching to Electric Cars, we wondered whether that has translated into films and television. So had a scout around to see what we could find but there was no data set that allowed us to see how many more EVs are on our screens now compared to five, or 10 years ago, and which ones we’re getting shows/picked to star the most. This gave us an idea, what if we could collect a huge amount of data and then filter it down to see what we want to see? So, we did!

Introducing, Cars On Screen!

Car Brands That Appear Most On Screen

The first thing we wanted to know was, simply, which car manufacturer is seen the most in films and on television? The findings were quite staggering…

Ford Tops The Charts

The fact that Ford is at the top of the leaderboard for the most-seen car brand in films and television is interesting, but the shocking element is the fact that, according to our research, Ford appears nearly 165 thousand times, which is more than double the amount of the car brand in second place, Mercedes-Benz, who appear close to 80 thousand times. That’s a colossal number of times. As a matter of fact, Ford appears more times on screen than Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Land Rover, Porsche and Tesla… COMBINED!

Merc Beats BMW & Audi

Away from the dominant Ford, it’s interesting to discover that out of the ‘Big 3’ it’s Mercedes-Benz that appears more often. They actually appear twice as often as rivals BMW, with Merc appearing 77,984 times in films and television shows compared to BMW’s 37,298. 

Then there’s Audi, who you would have thought would be up near the top of the leaderboard, but they’re actually located down in 15th position, under the likes of Citroen, Volvo and Hyundai, with only 18,199 appearances. That’s over four times less than Mercedes.

Renault, Fiat & Honda Score Top 10 Positions

Under Mercedes-Benz comes Toyota in third and Volkwagen in fourth, two manufacturers you expect to see high up in the rankings. However, under these two come, not BMW, not Audi, but Renault in fifth (45,806 appearances) and Fiat in sixth (44,001 appearances), both higher than BMW who sits in seventh.

Electric Cars On Screen

Next, we wanted to shift our focus to electric cars. As stated above, with more and more people switching to electric-powered vehicles, we thought it would be interesting to see if more and more EVs and now being featured in films and television shows.

Tesla’s Model S Is The Most Scene EV On Screen

We believed that a Tesla would have a good chance at being at the top of the leaderboard, but similarly to Ford’s dominance highlighted above, we didn’t think they’d run away with it in quite the way they have done. 

At the top of the leaderboard is Tesla’s Model S, which appears on-screen a total of 340 times. This is by far and away the most popular EV, as not only is it at the top but it’s also featured over twice as much as the next EV, the Nissan Leaf, which only features 144 times. 

Tesla’s Dominance

It’s also perhaps not a huge surprise to see Tesla’s other Models feature highly. The Model X takes third place and the list with 113 appearances in films and on television, followed in fourth by the Model 3, which has 89 appearances. 

Overall, Tesla cars have 561 appearances, which also includes 14 appearances by the Model Y and 5 appearances by the infamous Cybertruck. The number of appearances made by Tesla vehicles on screen may not seem like a lot when compared to all the other cars (petrol, diesel, hybrid etc) but in actual fact, Tesla cars feature more than all the EVs combined. 

EVs On The BIG Screen

When it comes to television it’s hard to figure out when cars make an appearance due to the sheer amount of episodes some shows have. However, when it comes to film appearances, this is much easy to calculate…

Tesla Model S - The Go-To Film Car

Yes, the Model S continues to dominate, even when filtering it down to just films. In fact, it’s even more dominant. The Model S appears 113 times on the BIG screen, with the Nissan Leaf, which also retains its silver medal, only appears 43 times. Next comes the Model X with another big gap down to just 29 appearances, and then, in a refreshing turn of events, we find that the Renault Zoe has overtaken the Tesla Model 3 with 25 appearances compared to the Model 3’s 24.

Rise Of The Machines EVs

When looking at EVs overall, we wanted to see if there’s been a rise in the number that feature on the big screen compared to five or 10 years ago. The answer is yes.

Splitting up the data into years, starting in 2010 up to this year (2022), we can see that back in 2010, no electric cars can be found gracing the big screen. The year later, however, we saw the first one, a Nissan Leaf to be exact, which was also the only EV to feature in 2012 too. The Nissan then took a break in 2013 and was replaced by the first sighting of a Renault ZOE. Then as 2014 came to end, Tesla was up and running and their Model S was featured four times bringing the total number of EV sightings in films up to nine, thanks to continued support by the Leaf and ZOE, plus a little cameo by the Smart ForTwo.

2015 and 2016 saw these trailblazers some more, reaching 18 appearances total by the end of the 2016 calendar year. Then came a big jump in 2017 thanks to the creation of the Tesla Model X, which helped take EV sightings up to 27, a 50% increase from the last year. 

More EVs started hitting the screens in the following few years. The ForTwo's big brother, the Smart ForFour made its debut, as did Mercedes’ EQC and Hyundai’s Ioniq, and by the time we ended 2018, EV sightings had risen to 46, another 70% increase from the last year. 

Despite a lull in 2019 where only two more EVs appeared, including the Cybertruck, and then then the first big dip in 2019, seeing a 40% decrease in sightings, 2021 came back with a vengeance with a total of 65 sightings that year, a 124% increase to be exact, with special appearances from 11 Tesla Model 3s, a new record of eight Nissan Leafs and some decent cameos from Audi’s e-tron and a couple of Porsche Taycans.

This grew EV appearances on the BIG screen by 140.7% over five years.

Cars On Screen At Christmas

As the festive season is approaching, we thought we’d round off this piece by looking at the top 20 highest-grossing Christmas films of all time and see which cars featured and for how long.

Ford Golden Rings

Yes, you guessed it, Ford is the star on top of the tree. And doing so again in impressive fashion, with their cars featuring 52 times, nearly twice as many times as Chevrolet who took a surprising second place with Toyota following close behind in third with 22. 

Unfortunately for Tesla, despite their dominance within the EV rankings, they only featured once, with a Tesla Model X staring in ‘A Bad Moms Christmas, which is not only surprising that they only feature once, but that ‘A Bad Moms Christmas’ is the 16th highest-grossing Christmas-themed film.

Surprising On-Screen Success For The S Class

Try saying that five times fast!

Not only did we look at which cars featured in Christmas films but also for how long. Surprisingly, topping our leaderboard is the 2003 Mercedes-Benz S 350 L, with an on-screen time of 2m 01s narrowly beating the 1997 Peugeot 306 (1m 58.08s) and 2003 Land Rover Discovery (1m 58.05s).

So there you have it. Now you know which cars are seen the most on screen. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our findings and, who knows, we may see some more in the festival films and shows being released this Christmas. If so, we’ll be sure to update things and then you know.


The bulk of our data came from IMCDB, a database full of user-generated content where we found out where all the sightings had come from and where and how. We then had to delve into the data we’d scrapped to filter out all the different cars and manufacturers as well as which year they were spotted and for how long etc.

After that, we sourced the Christmas films and found out all the cars that had featured in those and followed the same methodology in syphering out all the relevant information.

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