As more battery electric vehicle (BEV) models become available for purchase, owners’ satisfaction with their overall experience is shifting to more traditional factors such as quality and styling.
The shift is most evident in the respective premium and mass market segment award recipients, Rivian R1T and MINI Cooper Electric, according to the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Ownership Study released Feb. 28.
In its first year of eligibility, the Rivian R1T ranks highest overall with a satisfaction score of 794 (on a 1,000-point scale). Owners like the driving enjoyment and interior/exterior styling factors.
MINI Cooper Electric ranks highest in the mass market segment with a score of 782, supported by the highest satisfaction score of any EV model in the study’s highest-weighted index factor, quality and reliability.
“The electric vehicle landscape is changing quickly, and newer models are bringing in more mainstream, first-time EV buyers,” said Brent Gruber, executive director of the EV practice at J.D. Power. “Recent vehicle launches from new brands and traditional automakers have had a profound effect on what factors are most important in the ownership experience. Today’s EV owners are looking for quality, reliability, driving enjoyment, safety and technology features.”
Following are key findings of the 2023 study:
Differences notable between premium and mass market segments: For a third consecutive year, owners of mass market BEVs cite infotainment as the most problematic category (19.2 problems experienced per 100 vehicles, or PP100). Among premium BEV owners, the most problematic categories are squeaks and rattles (17.5 PP100) and exterior (13.6 PP100). The largest gap in satisfaction between owners of premium and mass market BEVs is availability of public charging, which is greatly influenced by the Tesla network of chargers. Among premium BEV owners, satisfaction with public charging availability is 589, while satisfaction among mass market BEV owners is 341.
“The EV marketplace is dynamic and the important factors that manufacturers need to watch will vary based on their history and experience,” Gruber said. “First-time EV buyers who are more mainstream will compare their EV’s build quality to what they know about gas-powered vehicles.”
Towing more satisfying for EV truck owners: New to the study this year are survey questions specific to EV trucks regarding towing. Interestingly, satisfaction is higher among EV truck owners who have used their vehicle for towing (779) than among owners who have not towed (753). Satisfaction with driving range is higher among owners who have towed (635) than among those who have not towed (617), and satisfaction with accuracy of stated range also is higher (707 vs. 680, respectively). Truck manufacturers that communicate the effect that towing has on range — like they do with gas mileage—seems to help set owner expectations.
Changing landscape of first-time BEV owners: The study shows an increase of 11 percentage points from 2022 in the rate of first-time BEV ownership, rising to 85% from 74%. However, with a host of new product offerings, the mass market BEV segment is attracting new owners at a more rapid rate, as the percentage of first-time BEV owners in the segment jumped to 89% from 67% in 2022. While more vehicle shoppers are being drawn to EV ownership, satisfaction among first-time BEV owners is higher than among veteran BEV owners in only one category: vehicle quality and reliability (756 vs. 749, respectively). In the mass market segment, 68% of first-time BEV owners say that expected lower running costs and tax credits/incentives were the primary reasons for purchase, while driving performance is the most frequently cited purchase reason (75%) among first-time premium BEV owners.
About the Electric Vehicle Survey
The number of award-eligible models in the premium segment has grown from four to five year over year, while award-eligible mass market models have nearly doubled (from six to 10). Satisfaction among owners of premium EVs averages 756, while satisfaction among mass market EV owners averages 730.
The U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Ownership Study, now in its third year, uses a methodology change for 2023 by narrowing the satisfaction index to focus on the first year of ownership. The overall EVX ownership index score measures electric vehicle owner satisfaction in both premium and mass market segments. The 2023 study includes 10 factors (in alphabetical order): accuracy of stated battery range; availability of public charging stations; battery range; cost of ownership; driving enjoyment; ease of charging at home; interior and exterior styling; safety and technology features; service experience; and vehicle quality and reliability.
The study is conducted in collaboration with PlugShare, an EV driver app maker and research firm: EV Ownership Study information