Electric vehicles spend more time in the shop than gas-powered cars

Electric vehicles performed more poorly than gas-powered vehicles in J.D. Power's latest initial quality survey - UnSplash +

J.D. Power finds a widening quality gap between the two types of vehicles

When J.D. Power conducted its latest initial quality survey for new cars and trucks, it noticed something unusual. Problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) – its metric for measuring quality – were significantly higher for electric vehicles (EV) and plug-in hybrids (PHEV).

Previously, it was assumed that EVs would require fewer repairs than gas-powered vehicles because there were fewer moving parts and systems that required maintenance. But J.D. Power found that, in general, the more technology that is in a vehicle the more service it needs.

Lower-priced mass-market brands had a combined average of 181 PP100, outperforming the industry average of 195 PP100. But premium brands—often including more complicated systems and thus more reliance on connectivity—average 232 PP100.

“It is not surprising that the introduction of new technology has challenged manufacturers to maintain vehicle quality,” said Frank Hanley, senior director of auto benchmarking at J.D. Power. “However, the industry can take solace in the fact that some problem areas such as voice recognition and parking cameras are seen as less problematic now than they were a year ago.”

Three times the dealer visits

That trend was also visible among EVs. Newly incorporated repair data shows EVs, as well as PHEVs, require more repairs than gas-powered vehicles in all repair categories. 

“Owners of cutting edge, tech-filled EVs and PHEVs are experiencing problems that are of a severity level high enough for them to take their new vehicle into the dealership at a rate three times higher than that of gas-powered vehicle owners,” Hanley said.

Gas- and diesel-powered vehicles averaged 180 PP100 in this year’s study. EVs, on the other hand, were 86 points higher at 266 PP100. 

The study also noted that the problem gap between Tesla and other EV makers has closed. Tesla and other EV makers both had a 266 PP100 score.

Specific complaints

Digging deeper, the 2024 study found that owners are experiencing rising frustration from false warnings. Often, owners don’t understand what warnings mean.

Problems with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay persist as the feature remains one of the top 10 problems. Customers most frequently experience difficulties connecting to their vehicle or losing connection.

Owners are complained about their vehicles’ features, controls and displays, making it the second most problematic category in the study. J.D. Power said the PP100 incidence in this category is more than 30% higher in EVs than in gas-powered vehicles. 

J.D. Power said this was worsened by Tesla’s recent switch to steering wheel-mounted buttons for horn and turn signal functions, “a change not well received by owners.”

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