Consumer Reports Survey Says Electric Vehicle Reliability Sucks!

We’ve been told for years that electric vehicles are less complex than gasoline-powered vehicles. That means they should last longer and experience greater reliability. That’s what we have been led to believe. But according to a recent survey electric vehicle reliability sucks. 

A reliability survey released by Consumer Reports paints a grim picture of “significant problems that will be covered under warranty.” This was based on data from 329,000 EV owners. But many of the problems owners faced had no connection with batteries or electric motors in their EVs. 

Flawed paint and build quality with Tesla Model Y sedans were identified

A Tesla worker assembles a car
A worker in a Tesla car factory | Getty

Flawed paint on Teslas and build quality problems with Tesla Model Y sedans were identified as examples. Drive-system electrical problems and power equipment issues on some Audi e-Tron models were also mentioned. For Kia’s Niro EV, owners said the replacement of an electric motor bearing was a fairly common problem. 

Consumer Reports has not extended the Niro EV and e-Tron recommended ratings while the Model Y has yet to receive it. At the other end, the Chevy Bolt is one of GM’s most reliable cars. But new electric vehicles start off with below-average ratings before they ever get tested.

That’s because Consumer Reports found that new EVs, in general, have numerous issues in their first year or two. Both the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the Mercedes EQC have met this fate. But CR is ecumenical. It has also decided to downgrade the Porsche Taycan reliability rating to below average. It was impressed with the Taycan testing it had already completed, but CR had not yet received owner survey data. 

“Often, it’s not the EV tech that’s problematic”

2020 Porsche Taycan | Porsche

Consumer Reports Recommends These 2020 Electric Vehicles

“Often, it’s not the EV tech that’s problematic,” says Associate Director Anita Lam. “It’s all the other new technology that could show up on any car – new infotainment systems, more sophisticated power equipment, and gadgets – that often gets put on new EVs to feed a perception that they’re supposed to be luxurious and high-tech.”

As Consumer Reports has shown and most know first-year vehicles, especially with all of the new technology they now contain, are “prone to growing pains.” So as a general rule it might be best not to be the first on your block for whatever the latest gee-whiz vehicle is. That goes for EV adoption.

In that case, it might be best to at least rent an EV to see how convenient charging stations are located within a radius of your house. Most new owners opt for the home charging systems which makes this less of a problem. Going with a hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai could be a different story. Especially outside of the Los Angeles basin.