Consumer Reports Survey Shows Many EVs Still Have Reliability Issues

More than a decade after its inception, the electric vehicle industry is plagued with a myriad of reliability issues. Electric cars are expected to replace the world’s fleet of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles as part of global efforts to combat climate change, but the young industry still has a plethora of issues to overcome before it can surpass the traditional auto industry.

A recent Consumer Reports annual car reliability survey has revealed that one of the major challenges EV owners still have to contend with is significantly more vehicle issues compared to ICE or hybrid car owners. The poll found that the average electric car has a staggering 79% more issues than traditional vehicles, indicating that despite their lower fueling and maintenance costs, EVs still suffer from many reliability issues.

The survey included owner responses on more than 330,000 cars and covered 20 potential problem areas such as the transmission, engine, infotainment system, leaks and electric motors. According to Consumer Reports senior director of auto testing Jake Fisher, this is partly because most EVs are manufactured by legacy automakers that are still unfamiliar with electric vehicle technology and startups that are new to manufacturing vehicles.

Fisher explains that the nascent EV industry is still going through growing pains as it gains its footing and says the segment will need a while to “work out the bugs.” At the moment, most EV owners reported issues with electric vehicle batteries, charging and drive motors. Given that these three parts comprise the key components of an electric car, such issues indicate that car makers still haven’t worked out the kinks of building EV propulsion systems.

It’s not surprising that auto makers are still figuring out electric-vehicle technology. While the traditional auto industry is more than a century old and has provided auto makers with enough time to perfect their manufacturing processes, the EV industry is just over a decade old. Even Tesla, the company that pioneered the modern electric vehicle industry and has several best-selling models, has dealt with reliability issues.

Consumer Reports recommended Tesla’s Model Y for the first time since it was introduced in 2020 following reduced reports of suspension and in-car electronics issues as well as improved build quality in recent years. Consumer Reports’ auto data analytics program lead Steven Elek notes that while Tesla has more experience manufacturing electric cars compared to other auto makers, its EV components are usually reliable but it struggles with maintaining build quality.

Conversely, hybrid owners reported 26% fewer issues compared to battery electric cars. According to Elek, this is likely because automakers such as Toyota have been making hybrids long enough to perfect the process. He adds that hybrid models tend to come from manufacturers such as Kia, Hyundai and Toyota, which have a reputation for producing reliable vehicles. Startups such as Rivian Automotive (NASDAQ: RIVN) must show consumers that their products can be of a better quality than those from legacy automakers, which have been in the industry for decades.

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