Tesla Model 3, Kia Niro top J.D. Power EV satisfaction survey again

The Tesla Model 3 sedan and Kia Niro EV crossover top all other battery-electric vehicles in their segments in owner satisfaction, according to a new J.D. Power study.

The Model 3 topped the premium BEV segment for the second-straight year in J.D. Power’s U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience Ownership Study, with a satisfaction rating of 777 points out of a possible 1,000. Likewise, the Niro topped all mass-market BEVs for the second time in the survey’s two-year history, with a score of 744.

J.D. Power and California-based EV research firm PlugShare surveyed 8,122 owners of 2016-22 model year vehicles from October to November. Respondents were surveyed on their satisfaction with their vehicle in 10 categories, including battery range, cost of ownership, styling and vehicle quality and reliability.

The average customer satisfaction score among premium BEV owners was 770 points, down from 782 points a year earlier. The Tesla Model Y ranked second in the segment, with a score of 770, followed by the Tesla Model S (756) and Audi E-tron (718).

The scores reflect Tesla‘s continued dominance of the EV market. The brand still accounts for most of the country’s new EV registrations and beat out BMW for the 2021 luxury sales crown, according to data from Cox Automotive.

Among mass-market vehicles, the average score stood at 709, compared with 730 in 2021. The Ford Mustang Mach-E crossover made its debut on the list, with a score of 741, followed by the Nissan Leaf (708), Hyundai Kona Electric (692) and Volkswagen ID4 (692).

The Chevrolet Bolt fell from a second-place finish in the 2021 survey among mass-market BEVs with a score of 745 to sixth-place finish with a score of 687 in 2022. The survey came amid a massive Bolt recall campaign by General Motors due to a risk of battery fires.

Range remains key

Range satisfaction was cited by 86 percent of premium owners and 87 percent of mass-market owners as the top reason for purchasing their vehicles. BEV owners who said range does not impact their driving habits had average satisfaction scores more than 100 points higher in both segments compared with those who said range regularly impacts them.

Brent Gruber, senior director of global automotive at J.D. Power, said consumers who make the “initial leap of faith” in buying an EV are proving to be satisfied.

“We know from our research that many consumers have concerns during the purchase consideration process with aspects like battery range and vehicle charging,” he said in a statement. “However, once someone has purchased a BEV, they’re pretty much hooked.”

The survey found that first-time BEV owners were, on average, similarly satisfied with their vehicles compared with those who were on at least their second BEV. Electric newcomers had an average satisfaction score of 754, compared with 766 among veterans.

Veteran BEV owners gave higher marks on battery range and accuracy of stated battery range, while first-time owners were more satisfied on issues surrounding service experience, driving enjoyment and styling, according to J.D. Power.

Buying another EV?

The likelihood of someone purchasing another EV correlates with the owner’s satisfaction with their current model, the study found. Among owners whose scores were greater than 900, 96 percent said they would buy another BEV, with 62 percent of them saying they would “definitely” buy from the same brand.

Meanwhile, 89 percent of veteran BEV owners and 78 percent of first-time buyers whose scores were below 600 points said they would purchase another BEV in the future, though just 6 percent of those buyers in each group said they were likely to buy from the same brand.

“What will keep first-time owners coming back to buy another BEV is the compelling experience with the safety and technology features, lower service and maintenance costs, and pure driving enjoyment,” Gruber said. “The new BEVs from traditional brands are helping to attract even more first-time buyers.”

Problem areas

Among mass-market buyers, infotainment systems proved to be the biggest area of concern, with 26.2 problems reported per 100 vehicles, according to J.D. Power. The top issues identified by premium buyers included the exterior, with 14.6 problems per 100 vehicles, and squeaks and rattles, at 13.4 problems per 100 vehicles.

“As the EV market matures, EV owners will compare the build quality to internal-combustion engine models,” Gruber said. “Our research finds that, in general, EVs aren’t problematic because of the model type, but problems experienced are often related to technology- and feature-laden models, which present some challenges for minimizing quality issues. There’s essentially more to go wrong.”

The survey also found that satisfaction was higher among buyers who received an incentive on their BEV, particularly among those who said getting that incentive was easy to do. J.D. Power said 68 percent of respondents received a purchase incentive on their vehicle.


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