When it comes to electric cars, companies that have been in the game longer tend to build more reliable ones. That should come as no surprise, but now there’s data to back it up. If you want the most trouble-free EVs, the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model 3 are the way to go.
Consumer Reports recently extrapolated from its vast archive of owner surveys the reliability data pertaining to electric cars. It found that as a whole, EVs were less reliable than traditional gasoline and hybrid cars. The Kia EV6 ran away with top honors among battery electrics with a total score of 84. However, CR was not ready to recommend it because it was so new on the market and reliability issues can take time to surface. Also, we would be remiss not to point out that the EV6’s platform twin, the Hyundai Ioniq 5, ranked fourth among EVs at 41 points, less than half the score of the Kia.
Between the siblings are the Tesla Model 3 with 58 points, and the Nissan Leaf with 53. These numbers land mid-pack among reliability ratings. Internal-combustion cars like the Toyota Corolla Hybrid, Lexus GX, Mazda Miata and Lincoln Corsair have scores in the 80s and 90s.
We’ve long heard the argument that EVs should, hypothetically, be more reliable than gasoline cars as they have fewer moving parts. Think of all the valves and gears in a typical ICE drivetrain. However, CR says, “EVs reported problems associated with battery packs, charging, electric drive motors, and unique heating and cooling systems that are required on vehicles that lack a conventional engine.” It would be be interesting to know the percentage of issues associated with hardware failures versus the percentage of issues stemming from software bugs, but CR doesn’t break out those numbers.
CR believes that as automakers climb the EV learning curve, the reliability numbers will improve. After all, gasoline cars have been honed for more than a century, and Tesla and Nissan have been selling EVs for over a decade each. It seems that when it comes to building a car, experience matters.