Electric vehicles are on average less reliable than conventional cars and trucks

FILE – The Chevrolet Bolt is shown at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build an entirely new power system, according to this year’s Consumer Auto Reliability Survey Reports.Matt Rourke/AP

DETROIT (AP) — Electric vehicles proved far less reliable on average than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, according to the latest Consumer Reports survey, which found that EVs from the 2021 to 2023 model years. have experienced nearly 80% more problems than vehicles powered by internal combustion engines.

Consumer Reports said EV owners most commonly report problems with the battery and charging systems, as well as flaws in how the vehicles’ body panels and interior parts fit together. The magazine and website note that EV manufacturers are still learning to engineer entirely new power systems, and suggest that as they do so, the overall reliability of electric vehicles should improve.

Still, Consumer Reports noted that continued concerns about reliability are likely to add to the problems that give many buyers pause when considering switching to the new technology, joining concerns about higher costs, too few charging stations and long charging times. .

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“This story is really one of growing pains,” said Jake Fisher, senior director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports. “It’s a story about simply working out the kinks and kinks of new technology.”

The study also concluded that plug-in hybrids, which can run on batteries before engaging a gas-electric drivetrain, are more prone to problems than fully electric vehicles. The add-ons, Fisher pointed out, contain two separate and complex power systems where problems can arise. He also noted that brands that have proven to be less reliable overall over time, such as Jeep and Volvo, have begun mass-producing plug-in hybrids.

But tested integrated gas-electric hybrid systems are more reliable than gasoline vehicles, largely because they’ve been in use for about a quarter century and the bugs have mostly been ironed out, Fisher said.

Consumer Reports pulled its survey data from subscribers who owned electric vehicles from the 2021 to 2023 model years and compared them to other vehicle types. In calculating the average percentage of vehicle problems, the organization gave extra weight to serious problems such as battery or engine failures.

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Electric vehicles from the 2021 and 2022 model years overall had more than twice the rate of problems as combustion vehicles. The joints were more closely aligned in the 2023 model year: Those electric cars had only 21 percent more problems than gasoline cars, Fisher said.

The smaller gap in problems between EVs and internal combustion vehicles in the 2023 model year, Fisher said, suggests that the reliability of EVs in general is improving. Still, he noted, newer vehicles tend to have lower rates of problems that increase as they age.

Among the EV owners whose vehicles have encountered problems is Michael Coram of Lockport, New York, near Buffalo. In July, with the intention of reducing his commuting expenses, Coram bought a 2023 Chevrolet Bolt electric SUV, attracted by its sporty handling. Coram, 44, a heating and air conditioning technician, said he ran into a nagging problem: On a chilly day in mid-November, his Bolt wouldn’t shift into drive.

Eventually, after Coram had turned the car on and off 10 or 12 times, the problem went away and he hasn’t had it since. Other owners on a Bolt social media forum told Coram that he may have switched to drive before the SUV’s computer had completed its start-up sequence.

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“It’s a little too much for a computer to handle,” he said.

Coram now waits for all the dash lights to go out before he presses the drive button. He said his dealer told him mechanics would inspect the Bolt when he had a rental car for him.

In 2021, General Motors recalled its popular electric Bolt from the 2017 to 2022 model years to replace batteries due to manufacturing defects that could cause fires. Fisher said Bolt owners had to limit how much they charged the batteries and had to park them outdoors until replacement batteries became available. Repairs are still being made this year, Fisher said, prompting some Bolt owners to report problems in the Consumer Reports survey.

In addition, Hyundai Ioniq 5 EV owners have reported battery and charging issues related to a charge control computer that in some cases caused the vehicles to stall.

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Rivian, a new maker of electric pickup trucks and SUVs, had problems with body panels lining up properly and with broken interior parts, Fisher said.

Tesla, the EV sales leader that already has years of experience in manufacturing vehicles, has shown an improvement in reliability, Fisher said. This is largely due to the fact that a large portion of Tesla’s sales include the relatively small and less expensive Model Y SUV and Model 3. They are easier to build and lack the problem-prone new technology that Telsa offers in its more expensive cars, the S and X models.

Tesla ranked 14th out of 30 car brands in the 2023 survey, up from 19th in 2022.

Lexus, Toyota’s luxury brand, was the most reliable in the study, followed by Toyota, Mini, Acura and Honda. The five lowest ranked brands are Jeep, Volkswagen, Rivian, Mercedes-Benz and Chrysler.

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The most reliable segment of the market is compact cars, followed by sports cars, small pickups, medium and large cars, luxury medium and large cars. Electric cars, electric SUVs, full-size pickups, midsize pickups, and electric pickups had the worst reliability.

Consumer Reports says the survey of subscribers representing 330,000 vehicles was conducted last spring and summer. It asked owners of vehicles from model years 2000 to 2023, with a few 2024 models, about problems they had experienced in the previous 12 months.

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