Electric vehicle reliability survey paints bad picture for Tesla owners

Electric vehicles are more unreliable than their petrol and diesel counterparts and spend longer off the road according to a Which? survey.

The annual Which? car survey is one of the largest motorist surveys assessing car reliability in the UK, collecting detailed feedback from over 48,000 vehicle owners. The survey asked owners if there had been any faults with their cars in the 12 months prior to answering.

Overall, the consumer group found that of cars up to four years old, nearly one in three electric vehicle (EV) owners reported one fault or more, compared to less than one in five petrol cars. They also went an average of just over five days without the use of their car while it was being fixed – compared to just three days for petrol cars.

It found that Tesla is the least reliable EV brand with two fifths (39 per cent) of Tesla owners reporting at least one fault in the prior four years and one in 20 (5 per cent) had a breakdown or failed to start.

Among cars four years old or less, the Kia e-Niro, which starts from £32,895, was found to be the most reliable EV and also the most reliable small or compact SUV of any fuel type.

Just 6 per cent of e-Niro owners reported developing faults with their car and only 1 per cent said their car had failed to start or broken down. However, those who did face issues had to contend with around eight and a half days off the road.

Which? called on other car makers to “up their game” and improve the reliability of their cars to match that of the e-Niro.

As there are fewer moving parts in EVs than in other fuel types, there is significant potential for their reliability to improve. The most common faults raised by EV drivers in the survey were software problems, not motor or battery-pack issues for example.

There are also reliable, partly-electric cars available on the market today. Which?’s survey found that the most reliable cars of any fuel type are full hybrids, with just one in six (17 per cent) of owners reporting a fault among cars aged up to four years old.

Lisa Barber, Which? home products and services editor, said: “We know that drivers are keen to make the move to more environmentally-friendly cars but it is vital that they are getting a quality product. Whilst it’s disappointing to see that EVs as a group are the least reliable, Kia’s e-Niro shows there is a significant opportunity for manufacturers to up their game and provide drivers with a reliable and more sustainable car.

“With EVs in particular, our research shows a premium price tag does not necessarily mean a reliable vehicle, so we would always encourage drivers to do their research ahead of such a significant purchase to see which cars and brands they can trust.”

In February, the UK’s car industry called on the government to create an independent body that would oversee the installation of new electric vehicle chargepoints and set car charging prices.

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