Electric Vehicles Are Less Reliable Than Conventional Cars: Consumer Reports

A new report shows that electric vehicles are less reliable than their gas-powered counterparts.
Electric Vehicles Are Less Reliable Than Conventional Cars: Consumer Reports
An electric vehicle charging station in Irvine, Calif., on Nov. 28, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Tom Ozimek

Owners of electric vehicles (EVs) continue to report many more problems with their cars than do owners of conventional cars or hybrids, according to the 2023 Consumer Reports’ reliability survey, released on Nov. 29.

On average, EVs were found to have had 79 percent more problems than gasoline-powered cars, when considering the past three model years, according to the report.

The least reliable were plug-in hybrids (PHEV), which had a whopping 146 percent more problems than gas vehicles.

Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, said that it’s not all that surprising that gasoline-powered cars are more reliable than EVs because the latter are a relatively new technology and time is needed to iron out the kinks.

“It’s not surprising that they’re having growing pains and need some time to work out the bugs,” Mr. Fisher said.

What is surprising, however, is that the most reliable vehicles, per the survey, were regular hybrids.

Surprise, Surprise

The Consumer Reports survey showed that regular hybrids had 26 percent fewer problems than gasoline-powered cars.

This is an unexpected finding, given that regular hybrids have both have a conventional powertrain and an electric motor—and so potentially more problem areas.

Regular hybrids differ from their plug-in counterparts in several ways, including that their electric motors are supplemental while conventional powertrains are the main source of power. PHEVs, by contrast, rely on an electric motor as the primary powertrain.

Regular hybrids include the small-battery “mild” hybrid category, in which electric motors add some acceleration, provide some power for stop-start systems, and recover energy during braking.

“PHEVs are sort of like an EV and a conventional car rolled into one, so by their nature they have more things that can go wrong with them,” Mr. Fisher explained.

However, there were a few exceptions to the rule that PHEVs were the least reliable while hybrids led the way.

For instance, the Toyota RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid, was one of the most reliable vehicles in this year’s edition of the annual survey.

By contrast, the Ford F-150 hybrid had issues including with the transmission that bucked the trend of strong hybrid reliability, per the report.

According to Consumer Reports, some of the most common problems reported by owners of EVs are issues with electric drive motors, charging, and EV batteries.

The charging problems that have been reported apply to the vehicles themselves and were not affected by whether they were charged at home or using public chargers.

Not only are EVs less reliable than their gas-powered counterparts, they generally cost more to drive, per a recent analysis.

EVs Cost More to Drive: Study

Most electric cars, crossovers, and trucks cost more to drive than their traditional gasoline-powered counterparts, according to a recent study that highlights the wisdom of considering the real-world costs of operating a vehicle before making a buying decision.
According to a recent analysis from Anderson Economic Group (AEG), the vast majority of gasoline-powered cars and crossovers sold in the United States cost less to fuel than their electric counterparts to charge.
While the differences vary across segments and depending on whether charging is done at home or commercially, the results are a stark reminder that going electric simply costs more to run.
For example, in the Entry segment (which includes cars like the Chevy Bolt and Honda Civic), a gasoline-powered model costs on average $9.78 per 100 miles to fuel. By contrast, the average EV in the same segment costs $12.55 to charge per 100 miles—but only if charged mostly at home. If charged mostly commercially that cost soars to $15.97 per 100 miles.

It’s the same story for the Mid segment (which includes the Chevy Malibu and the Honda Accord). An ICE car in this category costs on average $11.08 per 100 miles in gasoline, while an EV costs $12.62 for mostly home charging and $16.10 for mostly commercial.

The difference slims in the Truck segment with a gasoline-powered pickup like the GMC Sierra costing on average $17.58 per 100 miles to fuel, while an EV model costs $17.72 to charge per 100 miles—provided it’s plugged in mostly at home. Those who charge their electric pickups mostly commercially are in for a rude awakening with the cost surging to $26.38 per 100 miles.

In fact, the only segment where going electric can be cheaper is Luxury, where a high-end ICE vehicle such as a Tesla Model X costs on average of $13.50 to charge per 100 miles compared to an ICE vehicle like a BMW 5 Series, which on average costs $17.56 per hundred miles to fuel with gas. But again, that advantage in favor of EVs only holds for mostly home-based charging. The cost of charging a luxury EV climbs to $17.81 per 100 miles for mostly commercial charging, which is slightly more than for a high-end gasoline-powered vehicle.

“These results underline the importance of considering real-world costs before making a buying decision,“ the consulting company said in the study. ”These include knowing how often you travel away from home, your ability to install and rely upon a home charger, the costs and availability of commercial charging, and any road taxes levied on EV drivers in your state.”

The methodology used by AEG to calculate and compare ICE fueling costs versus EV charging expenses is based on a multi-variable analysis that includes gas taxes, electricity prices, and EV registration fees in the Midwest or State of Michigan, extrapolated to the rest of the country.