Consumer reports has had individual reports in the past on various specific models of electric vehicles, but they now publish the following report on the current state of EVs and the reliability of what is out there.
Per the attached report above, we start looking at the latest overview they have put together:
- Per an Executive Order from President Biden, by 2030, half of all new vehicles sold should be zero-emissions vehicles, including battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric, or fuel cell electric vehicles.
- While EV sales are trending up, they currently make up only 4% of 2021 new vehicle sales. (Source: Wards Intelligence)
- CR’s 2021 Auto Reliability and Satisfaction survey results reveal that current EV owners are highly satisfied. In fact, survey respondents with EVs report the highest owner satisfaction (76%) of all vehicles (model years 2019 and higher).
- However, respondents also report significant reliability issues with EVs. Electric SUVs were the least reliable car category.
Consumer Reports then had the following key insights and takeaways for auto manufactures:
- The reliability of EVs has significant room for improvement in order to appeal to the majority of new-car buyers who are looking for reliable vehicles. Reliability is “extremely important” (top box) to 71% of new-car buyers, according to CR’s most recent National Car Buying Survey.
- Despite the high satisfaction rates of current EV owners, who may have been early to adopt EVs for specific reasons such as environmental concerns or interest in new technologies, the mainstream car buyer prioritizes reliability. By providing additional data on EV reliability problem areas, CR hopes to influence future manufacturing decisions that make EVs more reliable, and in turn, more appealing to the majority of new-car buyers.
There are lessons to be learned from CR’s Auto Reliability data to improve EV reliability:
- Compact Hybrids and Plug-in Hybrids are the most reliable. While “simple” electric drive systems can and do have electrical failures and battery pack problems, most of these vehicles are built on proven systems.
- Electric SUVs are the least reliable. The highest problem areas in EVs often have no connection to the drivetrain. Issues are most commonly found in other components: In-car Electronics, Noises & Leaks, Power Equipment, Climate System, Body Hardware, Drive System, and Paint & Trim.
- Automakers should focus on building an electric platform and establishing the EV itself as a mainstream vehicle with the same systems and technology that have already proven reliable in their current lineups. If components other than the drivetrain have proven to be reliable, including them may increase the likelihood that the vehicle will have fewer issues.
Next step in the Deep Dive of Consumer Reports was the EV Reliability Data which shows that for the 2021 Auto Reliability analysis, compact hybrid/plug-ins were the most reliable auto and electric SUVs were the least reliable per auto catagory.
Consumer reports then shows that for 2019 to 2021 models, electric vehicles had higher problem rates than internal combustion engine vehicles. The sample showed the following:
The EV reliability problem rates and top problem areas show that the following issues from electronics to noise and even paint and trim were considerable. These rates were from the optional survey questions that people filled out.
While CR stated it was just an example of EV reliability problem areas, this does seem to show that one manufacture has more problems than others and begs the question of how legacy OEMs will do as they start to produce BEVs.
- In-car Electronics o Audi e-Tron MY 2019 In-car Electronics problem rate is 11 compared to the model year average of 3.4. Problems reported by CR members include the display screen going blank.
- Noises & Leaks o Tesla Model X MY 2020 Noises & Leaks problem rate is 9.6 compared to the model year average of 1.3. Problems reported by CR members include seals and weather stripping, air and water leaks, wind noise, and squeaks and rattles.
- Power Equipment o Audi e-Tron MY 2019 Power Equipment problem rate is 5.1 compared to the model year average of 1.5. Problems reported by CR members include exterior lights.
- Climate System o Tesla Model S MY 2020 Climate System problem rate is 6.9, 6.1 points above the model year average. Problems reported by CR members include automatic climate control and temperature sensors failing.
- Body Hardware o Tesla Model X MY 2020 problem rate of 5.8 is 5.1 points above the model year average. Problems reported by CR members include issues with gull wing doors not closing properly.
- Drive System o Chevrolet Bolt MY 2019 Drive System problem rate is 4.0, 3.3 points above the model year average. Problems reported by CR members include electrical failure, drive unit replacement, and other faulty components.
- Paint & Trim o Tesla Model Y MY 2020 Paint & Trim problem rate is 7.2, 6.5 points above the model year average. Problems reported by CR members include trim coming loose, and blotchy/mismatched paint on body panels.
This report makes one wonder if GM and Ford are paying close attention and how will Rivian fare when this report comes out in January 2023 for the 2022 year. Will we still see Tesla as the leader of EV reliability issues, or will some other auto company take its place?