Christian Bocsi | Bloomberg Creative Photos | Getty Images
Electric vehicles are among the least reliable cars and trucks in the auto industry today, according to a Consumer Reports ranking released Tuesday.
Compared to hybrid and gas-powered cars and trucks, all-battery electric vehicles were the worst-performing segment, aside from traditional full-size trucks, according to Consumer Reports.
Jake Fisher, senior director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports, said reliability issues with electric vehicles were expected because most automakers, with the exception of early EV leader Tesla, have launched all-electric models in recent years. According to him, the companies did not have time to eliminate problems affecting reliability.
Since electric car buyers are early adopters of the tech craze, automakers also equip models with a number of other features that can cause problems.
“Automakers use EVs as a technological testing ground for any new technology they want to try,” Fisher told CNBC. “Having all this new technology, there are a lot of potential problems with them.”
Consumer Reports surveyed more than 300,000 car owners from 2000 to 2022 and used that data to make predictions about the reliability of 2023 models.
Electric models had a bigger share in the rating than before. State and federal incentives and new environmental regulations have spurred greater adoption of all-electric vehicles in the United States and beyond to try to reduce air pollution from transportation.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, charging a hybrid or all-electric vehicle can cause pollution at the power plant, but the overall emissions from driving are lower than those from gasoline-powered vehicles. As energy from clean or renewable sources such as nuclear, solar and wind increases, electric vehicles may also become “greener” over time.
Hybrids work well
The report covers 24 car brands with a certain history. Out of 275 models included in the report, only 11 models of seven brands were fully electric vehicles. A survey was conducted among the owners of more than 2000 Tesla cars.
The list of electric cars is topped by the Kia EV6, which is well above average. At the end of the EV reliability rating is the electric Hyundai Kona.
While fully electric vehicles, many of which were launched for the first time in recent years, make up a larger segment of the list this year than before, they still represent only a small segment of the market.
Unlike all-electric cars, hybrid cars and trucks were among the most reliable in the study. This is because many hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius, have been on the market for years, so automakers have been able to solve their problems.
“When you introduce new technology and try new things and deviate from proven technology, you’re going to have more problems,” Fisher said.
Toyota, Lexus, BMW, Mazda and Honda topped this year’s reliability list for brands – all with above average reliability. Seven of the 10 most trusted brands were Japanese and Korean automakers. Lincoln is the only domestic brand in this year’s top 10 ranking.
Individual vehicle ratings from Consumer Reports were not immediately available.
As an overall brand, Tesla remained below average in reliability ratings, although it moved up four spots from last year. Other brands with below-average reliability include Chevrolet, GMC, Volkswagen, Jeep and Mercedes-Benz.
Fisher said Tesla is “different” in terms of electric powertrains compared to older automakers.
However, Tesla owners continue to report problems with the body, paint and trim on their cars across all models, said Steve Elek, program head of auto data analytics at Consumer Reports.
A man puts his Tesla into a Tesla charging station on September 22, 2022 in Santa Monica, California. Tesla is recalling more than 1 million cars in the U.S. because the windows could pinch people’s fingers when rolling.
Allison Lunch | Getty Images
Elek said Tesla’s high-end sedan, the Model S, has steering and suspension problems, and the Model S and Model Y crossover utility vehicles continue to have problems with their air conditioning and heating systems.
The central touchscreen featured in Tesla cars remained problematic in the Tesla Model S and Model Y.
Selling fewer Model X vehicles, which have historically been plagued by problems, also helped Tesla’s rankings, Fisher said. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has compared the Model Xi, an SUV with falcon wing doors, to a “Faberge egg” because of the relatively large number of parts needed to make the car.
The company’s entry-level sedan, the Model 3, was the only Tesla with an average reliability rating, while the Model S and Model Y were below average.
In its review, Consumer Reports did not evaluate the reliability of driver assistance systems such as Tesla’s Autopilot.