The Reliability Challenge of Electric Vehicles

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December 09, 2023
Edward Smith

Navigating the Reliability Hurdles of Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles (EVs) have taken the automotive world by storm, offering environmentally friendly and energy-efficient alternatives to traditional gasoline-powered cars. However, a recent report from Consumer Reports’ annual car reliability survey suggests that EV owners have been experiencing more issues than owners of conventional cars and hybrids. Based on feedback from more than 330,000 vehicle owners, this survey sheds light on EV manufacturers’ challenges in delivering dependable electric transportation.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

According to the survey, EVs from the past three model years, on average, had a staggering 79 percent more problems than conventional cars. These problems encompassed various issues, including electric motors, engines, leaks, transmission, and infotainment systems. It’s clear that while EV technology is promising, it’s not without its growing pains.

Consumer Reports notes that many electric cars are produced by legacy automakers new to EV technology or newer companies entering the automotive market. This inexperience with electric vehicles contributes to the higher rate of reported problems. Some of the most common issues EV owners report include problems with charging, electric drive motors, and EV batteries. It’s important to clarify that the charging problems mentioned in the survey are related to the car, not the home or public charging infrastructure.

Tesla’s Position in the Reliability Spectrum

Tesla, a prominent name in the EV industry, is in the middle of the pack concerning brand reliability. While Tesla’s Model Y, introduced in 2020, received a recommendation from Consumer Reports for the first time this year, it’s important to note that Tesla’s overall reliability score is affected by issues related to build quality. While Tesla’s EV components generally perform well, the company grapples with issues such as irregular paint, broken trim, malfunctioning door handles, and trunks that don’t close properly.

Consumer Reports mentions that Tesla’s powertrains are generally reliable, but these build quality issues affect the brand’s reliability score. Consumer Reports incorporates build quality issues that require repairs into their reliability calculations, albeit with less weight than more severe problems like those affecting the engine, transmission, or drivetrain.

Shining Reliability of Hybrids

In stark contrast to EVs’ reliability challenges, hybrids continue to excel in dependability. The survey findings show hybrids exhibit a 26 percent lower issue rate than conventional models. Even though hybrids incorporate both a traditional powertrain and an electric motor, they surpass conventional cars in terms of reliability.

Automakers like Kai, Hyundai, and Toyota, which have been producing hybrids for a significant period, have honed their expertise in hybrid technology. Hybrids are also characterized by their relative simplicity, lacking the high-tech features that can be prone to problems. This makes hybrids a solid choice for individuals more focused on fuel efficiency than cutting-edge technology.

Plug-in Hybrids: The Unreliable Category

While conventional hybrids shine in reliability, the same cannot be said for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). PHEVs, which combine a short-range electric battery with an internal combustion engine for long-range driving, face significant reliability challenges, with 146 percent more problems than conventional cars.

The complexity of PHEVs, incorporating aspects of both electric and conventional cars, contributes to their higher rate of reported issues. For example, while the conventional version of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan earned a recommendation due to its high-reliability score, the PHEV variant of the Pacifica falls below average and is not recommended. Problems related to the charging station and hybrid drivetrain drag down the PHEV’s reliability score.

The Importance of Considering Reliability

Despite these trends, it’s crucial to remember that there are exceptions within each category. Some PHEVs, like the Toyota RAV4 Prime, defy the overall unreliability of their class and rank among the most dependable models. Despite encountering specific transmission and other problems, the Ford F-150 hybrid goes against the pattern of robust hybrid reliability.

The following video discusses 10 significant issues with electric vehicles you should be well-informed about before buying one.

California Personal Injury Lawyer

If you’ve experienced an accident involving an electric vehicle or any other auto accident, our Sacramento Car Accident Lawyers are here to help. Our seasoned attorneys specialize in handling accident cases and can provide you with the guidance and support you need during this challenging time.

To discuss your case or receive free, friendly advice, please call us at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. We are dedicated to helping those injured in accidents seek the compensation they deserve and protecting their rights. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you on your recovery journey.

Photo by Bob Osias on Unsplash

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