By on January 27, 2022

With electric vehicles getting a lot of press, you might be wondering which models are scratching consumers in all the right places.

According to J.D. Power’s U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience Ownership Study, the Kia Niro EV is the best thing the mainstream BEV market currently has to offer. The Korean model garnered a satisfaction rating of 744 points out of a possible 1,000. However, it wasn’t the top dog overall. That honor fell to the Tesla Model 3, which achieved a score of 777 points — besting the industry average for premium electrics by a whole seven points. 

Our winner was followed closely by other Tesla products. The Tesla Model Y ranked second in the upscale segment (770 points) followed by the Tesla Model S (756) and Audi E-tron (718).

Among mainstream brands, the Ford Mustang Mach-E came in second place with 744 points. Though the overall satisfaction of the mass market segment averaged a much lower 709.

Done in collaboration with PlugShare, the Electric Vehicle Experience Ownership Study is hoping to set “the standard for benchmarking satisfaction with the critical attributes that affect the total or overall EV ownership experience for both BEV and PHEV vehicles.” Survey respondents included 8,122 owners of 2016-2022 model-year vehicles, all weighing in between October and November of 2021.

That’s a decent sample size for these types of studies. But it’s hard to take J.D. Power at face value until you’ve examined how the questionnaire was framed. Some of the outlet’s surveys measure little more than how excited someone was about a vehicle immediately after purchase, while others take a deeper look at customer satisfaction over time. For the EV ownership study, J.D. Power looked at 10 individual factors (three more than last year’s survey). These included 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/reliability.

Image: Kia Motors

Taking all of the above into account, I’m a little sad to see the Hyundai Kona Electric not getting an honorable mention. It was the first non-luxury BEV that appealed to me on any level and is effectively a smaller version of the Niro EV with better range. But customers may have found interior volume lacking (the battery cuts into rear-seat legroom) and the Kia always felt a bit peppier around town. Still, you’d think the disparity in range (239 miles vs 258 miles) would have come into play.

J.D. Power even stated as much when identifying it as one of the key factors that would keep EV owners the happiest. It cited range as the single most important issue in both the premium (86 percent) and mass-market segments (87 percent). Other takeaways included the relevance of government-backed incentives and quality control:

More than two-thirds (68 percent) of EV owners received a purchase incentive. Overall satisfaction is higher among owners who say incentives are very easy to get (760) vs. among owners who say incentives are somewhat/very difficult to get (712). Among owners who cite incentives as a key purchase driver, 79 [percent] received a federal tax credit/rebate, but only 59 [percent] of that group say it was very easy to receive. “Many EV incentives and rebates have to be handled by owners,” [Brent Gruber, senior director of global automotive at J.D. Power,] said. “Dealers can facilitate the process for first-time owners by providing necessary links and forms and then walk the customer through the steps for claiming the federal and state tax credits.”

While infotainment is the most problematic category for owners of mass market BEVs (26.2 problems experienced per 100 vehicles, or PP100), the leading problems in the premium BEV segment are exterior (14.6 PP100) and squeaks and rattles (13.4 PP100). “Quality and reliability are extremely important factors to which manufacturers will have to pay close attention,” Gruber said. “As the EV market matures, EV owners will compare the build quality to internal combustion engine (ICE) models. 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.”

For now, it seems as though BEV customers are a bit more willing to deal with manufacturing defects than their friends who drive gas burners. Early adopters also seem willing to purchase an EV again (at 62 percent), provided their last car didn’t become problematic. But even those that got stuck win an all-electric lemon expressed a majority consensus to at least consider another electric car from a different brand.

Ford

“Making the initial leap of faith into owning a BEV is proving to be very satisfying,” stated Gruber. “We know from our research that many consumers have concerns during the purchase consideration process with aspects like battery range and vehicle charging. However, once someone has purchased a BEV, they’re pretty much hooked. 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. The new BEVs from traditional brands are helping to attract even more first-time buyers.”

Based on J.D. Power’s own data, I wouldn’t go as far as to say everyone who purchased a BEV in the past will become a lifelong fan. But most don’t appear to be turned off by the experience, even if it went less than swimmingly. That matches several other ownership studies I’ve encountered over the last few years. But the relevant outlets always leave you with a few doubts, regardless of the topic. After all, J.D. Power’s first order of business tends to be telling automakers exactly what they want to hear and withholding the rest until they’re willing to pay for it.

[Images: Working Title Productions/Shutterstock; Kia Motors; Ford Motor Co.]

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59 Comments on “Survey: Which EVs Are Leaving Drivers the Most Satisfied?...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    YMMV

    I’m leery of surveys whose results show a few percentage points separating top from bottom. Of course, purchase bias plays a big role in such surveys; you don’t want to hate on the $60k car you just bought.

    As for the Niro EV, the hybrid is a very nice little wagon, and the electric version probably has many similarities to my 19 Ioniq EV. So I can see why people like it.

    I’d argue that range *expectations* are more important than range itself, as far as a satisfaction survey goes. Nobody buys a 124-mile EV like mine and expects to get 300 miles. But you’d be pretty grouchy if your EV can’t achieve its EPA range under ideal conditions.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      Stated mileage range is like the advertised cableco bill–wildly optmistic.

      If you think you’ll pay only $59.99 for your cable TV service and then never look at the bills as they take money from your account every month, then you’ll probably be happy with whatever expectation Joe Electric Isuzu set you up with.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        With my ICE cars, it’s always been a rare moment if I actually got the EPA mileage. With EVs, I can usually beat the EPA range because I’m good at using regen. Also traffic where I’m using one pedal mode and averaging about 15 MPH tends to push range up. I can usually get WLTP numbers. In fact, I use WLTP numbers when shopping over EPA since they conform closer to my driving. I also look for real world range tests at 70 mph in freezing temps on the internet. They’re out there. There are even a couple of youtubers that test them by driving them to the arctic circle in Norway. In fact, some of that independent cold testing has shown the advantage of new LFP batteries in the cold. You’d never see that with the EPA testing.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Regen is the key for good mileage in traffic. I was real good in NYC to suburbia commuting and was able to crack 40 plus in the Altima Hybrid and that is a primitive hybrid compared to the Prius that I had next. That car would crack 70 MPG in the same commute. The key was really working the pedal with regen in mind. Just braking with no concern the car would return high 50s. Not too shabby but quite a drop.

          I have never driven a pure electric car, but if you think of what they can (re)generate themselves, plus the lack of combustion inefficiency and the associated radiator waste you can’t help but realize that from an efficiency point of view they are quite impressive. No, they are not for everybody but they don’t have to be. I’d still like to see real studies that evaluate overall impact from oil well to vehicle and compare that from electric plant to vehicle and really see if the advantage still holds.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      J.D. Power should never be taken as the gospel. But it’s always interesting to see what they come up with while trying to determine how valid it is.

      I have to admit, while I’m somewhat biased against EVs. I thought Hyundai and Kia has done ad admirable job with its lineup vs the competition. Fewer gimmicks, competitive range, sound designs.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    People like electric vehicles??

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Surprise. Live with one for a week and you’ll find out why.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Never going back.

      Once you’ve spent some time with an EV, ICEs start to feel slow-witted, clumsy, and rough.

      And you notice the stink on cold start a lot more, and you can’t sit in your car with the heat on without sitting in a cloud of it.

      And you have to spend time getting gas.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      They’re what auto designers have always been trying to achieve. Smoothness, minimal noise, and loads of instant torque. Along with improved convenience for those of us that can fuel at home while we sleep. You don’t even have to make that 10-minute visit to the gas station once a week. No dealing with oil changes.

      I know, they aren’t for everyone here, but for many of us, they’re far better than ICE vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      “ People like electric vehicles??”

      Keep in mind these are the same people that wear N95s while in their electric appliance by themselves. So it’s clear their judgement is severely flawed.

      But, if they had a gun to their head or were put in a room with a perfectly healthy, Covid negative person they would admit that they are awful and severely compromised compared to ICE vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @EB: you really don’t get out much do you?

      • 0 avatar
        randy in rocklin

        Wait a few years and see how much satisfaction there is left after battery depreciation sets in and what to do about recycling old batteries. This whole electrification is just a fad and will go away. EVs are useful only to a limited extent.

        • 0 avatar
          EBFlex

          Yep. EVs are exponentially worse than ICE vehicles. Much worse for the environment too. It’s amazing how so many feeble minded people have gotten suckered into the EV scam. No ability to think for themselves and see the massive shortcomings compared to ICE vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            So, how is it that feeble-minded people are able to make enough money to be able to afford EVs given how expensive they are with some costing 6 figures?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Used Bolts, Volts, and Leafs (leaves?) are not very expensive propositions vs a new or used comparable Hyundai or Nissan conventional compact.

          • 0 avatar
            EBFlex

            “Used Bolts, Volts, and Leafs (leaves?) are not very expensive propositions vs a new or used comparable Hyundai or Nissan conventional compact.”

            Exactly.

            But I thought the Model 3 had an entry price of $35K? That was a big “chest thumping” moment for the snake oil salesman Elon. The average new car price is $43,072. But yet the model 3 is somehow “so expensive”?

            Have a seat MCS.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            “But I thought the Model 3 had an entry price of $35K?”

            That kind of went away real fast. If you find you aren’t making money on something, stop making it. When your production is at capacity (actually I think a bit beyond given the quality issues) it makes sense only to make higher-margin cars. Besides, the average cost to build a Tesla is $36k. Unlike GM and others that are okay with losing money per vehicle, Tesla at least realized they made a mistake and moved on and is only building cars that are profitable. Sort of what happened at stellantis and other makers with sub-$20k cars.

            Still, plenty of people that can afford $40k+ all the way up into 6 figure cars are buying EVs. If they’re feeble-minded, how are they able to make that much money?

            https://insideevs.com/news/563824/tesla-average-production-cost-dropping/

          • 0 avatar
            dantes_inferno

            > So, how is it that feeble-minded people are able to make enough money to be able to afford EVs given how expensive they are with some costing 6 figures?

            In the words of Thomas Tusser:

            “A fool and his money are soon parted”

            And by (voluntarily) paying to become beta testers (guinea pigs) for the automotive industry, those words aptly apply.

  • avatar
    mor2bz

    JD Powers? marketing BS on the take: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSjalDDCgbs

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Don’t companies pay JD Powers? If so how much trust can you put in their ratings.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      JD Power survey rankings are a joke. Some might be useful, but they throw so much against the wall and some of their data points are bs, so it’s difficult to trust any of them at all.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “Early adopters also seem willing to purchase an EV again (at 62 percent)”

    62% isn’t bad but does the flip side to that mean 38% *don’t* want to purchase another EV?

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      “but does the flip side to that mean 38% *don’t* want to purchase another EV?”

      Considering the issues with many of the early EVs, that’s not surprising. Look at what SCE’s 2012 Leaf was like. High depreciation, extreme battery degradation, and 80 miles of range on a good day and in your dreams. Now, with the improvements over the last decade, things are much better, but it was really rough for the earliest of early adopters.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        And the pattern of early adopters continues. Early plasma TV buyers dealt with high prices, burn-in, and short lives. Compare that to the last generation of plasmas – they offered the best picture quality (by far) of any non-CRT based technology until the advent of OLED and lifespan ceased to be an issue. Our Panasonic plasma has over 50,000 hours on in from when we purchased it in 2008.

        This is a normal cycle of cutting edge tech – if the market stays interested, the tech improves, the quality gets better, prices drop. Electric cars are following in the same pattern. The risk is that consumers can develop opinions that don’t improve with the tech. Lots of TV buys ignored plasmas only to buy “LED” TVs that had subpar video quality and eventually the technology went away even before OLED was ready for prime time.

        • 0 avatar
          jack4x

          “Our Panasonic plasma has over 50,000 hours on in from when we purchased it in 2008.”

          Not doubting you at all, but 50,000 hours is basically 6 years never powered off, or more than 10 hours a day, 365 days a year since 2008. That is seriously impressive and I hope my OLED gives me even a fraction of that lifespan.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            …Not doubting you at all, but 50,000 hours is basically 6 years never powered off, or more than 10 hours a day, 365 days a year since 2008…

            That’s my wife – the damn thing has to be on all the time. She is a stay at home person an the set is always on. If I was ever doing online dating in the future, the “need for TV” would be a question I ask that’s for sure.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          @GoldenHusky: you make some excellent points. For decades IBM dominated its industry by intentionally ‘lagging’ behind in technology. Allowing others to experiment and then producing a product that was viewed as more reliable after the initial problems had been addressed by others.

  • avatar
    probert

    Love my Niro -quick, silent and stealthy – great if you want to rob a bank: What were they driving? I dunno – a car? That’s what I like.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I don’t particularly believe J.D. Power without knowing whose been writing them checks of late. I’d be inclined to believe the reverse figures.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      I don’t think J.D. Power is inaccurate. I just think they’ll do a survey that frames the question in absolutely any way that someone is willing to pay for. You have to pay real attention to the exact phrasing of what’s being surveyed with them. Now, the guys you’re talking about are Motor Trend.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      @28,

      What if I told you I was in possession of a review of the Warren Commission which was authored by J.D. Power and funded by the Trilateral Commission? (Some of the editing process may have occurred underground at Area 52 and there could be a picture of the Denver International Airport on the back cover.)

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Not really farfetched to massage the data for a more favorable outcome due to business relationships or payments. I’ve seen it done and have been asked to do it in previous roles, most notably employment assessment.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Flawed poll as the correct answer is “the one other people are driving”.

    Kidding, kidding. They are evolving quickly. I don’t need to go vehicle shopping for 5 years or so, and suspect they will be even better then.

    But darn it, I don’t want extension cords running across my garage floor!

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      “I don’t want extension cords running across my garage floor!”

      – Mount the charger on the wall (like normal people)
      – Install a longer charging cable
      – Route the cable up the wall, across the ceiling and do a vertical drop down to the vehicle in the appropriate spot
      – Install a retractor on the ceiling (something like this one) http://www.evchargesolutions.com/v/downloads/EVCS-UCR.pdf

      Next?

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Yeah, talk to all of the Canucks who have cords running along their driveways to their engine block heaters. Once you get to a certain latitude a great many public parking areas/businesses also have power outlets to plug in your block heater. So how expensive/difficult would it be to use these to recharge your EV?

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Right now (house under remodel) we are living with L1 (120 V) charging from an ordinary outlet in a shared parking garage. We’re using a 10 gauge extension cord to the convenience charger, and neither the cord itself nor any of the endpoints get warm. It works for our needs, although in our hands it wouldn’t support average usage of more than about 50 miles daily. (That’s average – we can certainly go much farther on one particular day as long as we can keep the car hooked up enough over the next couple days to refill.)

          L2 charging is way more convenient, but if I look around the neighborhood I see a surprising number of EVs hooked up to convenience chargers.

  • avatar

    I take JD Powers as seriously as I do Motor Trends COTY.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    Does anyone care what JD Powers has to say? Cuz I sure don’t.

  • avatar
    khory

    I’m surprised that the model 3 rated so highly. I just rented one on vacation. The thing drives well but it is over engineered in some ways. Want to open the glove box? Need to find the correct menu on the touch screen. God forbid there be a latch. The nav is terrible, it’s only redeeming feature being the estimated charge. There are enough other small issues like this that add up for a needlessly frustrating experience. The big one though is that there is nothing more concerning than your controls locking up and the car rebooting while you are driving. Happens far too often.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      That’s why I went Hyundai. It’s just like a normal car with an electric drivetrain. No science project stuff.

      But to this comment: “…the car rebooting while you are driving” – I don’t think that happens. Are you sure about that?

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    So just a handful of the above comments are from owners and are generally positive. The rest are from guys who are still lamenting the lack of manual transmissions.

    Just another day on TTAC.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Another component of EV satisfaction related to expectations is this:

    Mfrs tend to embellish EV range, offering little truth about the impact of speed, weather, load, and proper battery usage (80-20% or 90-10%, but never 100-0%).

    You’d be crazy to think your EPA 300-mile range EV actually has a 150-mile driving radius, for instance. Daily range would be more like 180 miles in good weather (going from 80% to 20%), but 140 or so in cold weather.

    The mfrs don’t want to talk about this, but range vs load will become a hot topic when the trucks start appearing. At least the Lightning is fitted with a range computer that compensates for bed weight.

    • 0 avatar
      Imagefont

      I know that the Model 3 uses very high tire inflation pressure. It’s a heavy car of course but high pressures reduce rolling resistance significantly. It’s a little trick to increase the range. Like aerodynamics, small things matter for a good EPA Highway range rating. It’s not cheating, but the real world mileage in less than ideal conditions might be impacted more. I’ve also thought about the 80-20 or 90-10 charge / usage range, whereas I suspect the manufacturers published range could well be 100-0, although I’m not sure about that. Also, fast charging is less than ideal for battery life. Most people would charge at home on level 2, which is probably ideal for maximizing battery life. Keeping your EV in a garage is also optimal and you can more easily limit min/max temperature swings. Lots of things to consider when choosing an EV.
      Tomorrow I’m driving to a piece of land I own 150 miles away where I have no way to charge a vehicle. It’s a little over 2 hours to drive it, so an EV would not be right for me. If conditions changed and I saw an advantage to owning an EV in terms of overall cost of ownership, and it worked for me, I’d probably buy one. But that just isn’t the case right now. I’m not going to pay more for a car, and then put up with inconveniences in the bargain. But I suspect this calculation will change. But I do believe batteries have reached efficiencies of scale and that EV’s will continue to cost 10-15k more than a comparable ICE vehicle. And no, I’m not comparing an EV to a BMW, I’m comparing an Ioniq EV to an Ioniq Hybrid with a 10k price spread for a car with 170 miles of range. You have to want it for it to make sense, you’re much better off with the hybrid version.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’m not sure how much I trust J.D. Power, but all the folks I know who have EVs like them. The instant-on acceleration is rather addictive.

    In the case of Tesla, I suspect the performance and brand cachet might be making up for some of the obvious brand issues, such as lack of quality, and awful ergonomics.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Want to discuss something really important? Today gas prices in Ontario reached an all-time record high.

    How will that impact vehicle purchases and personal driving practices?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      In the US, such events only produce a temporary spike in behavior. It would take years of sustained and substantial price growth in fuel prices to make a difference, at least here.

      Based on the popularity of trucks in the US and Canada, I suspect Canadians aren’t much different in this regard.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “That’s a decent sample size for these types of studies. But it’s hard to take J.D. Power at face value until you’ve examined how the questionnaire was framed. ”

    Exactly!

    “I hate how an EV drives” said no-one ever. I demo’d a Volt for 3 days when they first came out and that’s when I knew I had to have one. Loved the way it drove. So many of them were sold to people who had never given the car a 2nd thought until they drove or rode in a coworkers, neighbors or friends. I highly question JD’s 62% number for early adopters who would purchase another EV.

    • 0 avatar
      Dale Houston

      Maybe the 38% are the folks who got Fiat 500e’s or an equivalent. I believe those were underpowered and poorly ranged.

      I like driving our Tesla quite a bit. In the summer it can be a tough decision whether to go Model 3 or Miata when I need to drive somewhere. It’s a hoot.

  • avatar
    dusterdude

    For anyone that keeps a vehicle for 5 years or longer I would suggest waiting a few years more to buy an EV .

    A five year old EV has less retained value compared to a 5 year old ICE vehicle due to battery degradation concerns .

    The good news is EV battery life is improving ( along with the driving range we all look at )

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