Industry newcomer Rivian is already wowing owners not just with its R1T electric truck but as part of a well-rounded assessment of the ownership experience.
The Rivian R1T was ranked highest in satisfaction in results released Tuesday from an annual study focusing on EV ownership from survey giant J.D. Power. It’s followed, in order of ranking, by the Mini Cooper SE, Kia EV6, Tesla Model 3, and Ford Mustang Mach-E.
Power’s U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience Ownership Study, which looks at electric vehicle owner satisfaction, now makes the focus the first year of ownership.
For the third year of the study, J.D. Power noted that infotainment is the most problematic category for mass-market EVs, while squeaks and rattles rank at the top among complaints about premium EVs. Satisfaction over public charging availability also ranked far higher for those with premium EVs, while it lagged for mass-market EV owners. For study context: Tesla was included in the premium EV category, and both its simplified screen interface and its Supercharger charging network are considered Tesla strengths versus the rest of the industry.
But there were definitely some other surprises here that helped elevate the R1T to its lead. Power noted that owner satisfaction is higher among the owners of electric trucks who had used their truck for towing, versus those who had not—and that there was greater satisfaction with driving range among those who had towed versus those who had not.
Setting expectations about range at a realistic level from the start, and helping owners understand how towing will impact it, may play a bit role in this.
The portion of first-time EV owners in the study rose from 67% in 2022 to 89% this year, and Power noted that satisfaction over vehicle quality and reliability was actually higher for first-timers than for repeat EV owners.
Results for this year’s study are decidedly less ominous than those from last year, which suggested a high level of dissatisfaction with aspects like range and charging—and much to lose for legacy brands.
2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV
As Consumer Reports and others have pointed out—and as Power has pointed out in the past—electric vehicles are the least reliable vehicle type, but that’s primarily because of issues with the additional in-car technology that electric models tend to include, not because of their propulsion systems.
There were 10 areas of focus in the study: accuracy of stated range, public charging availability, battery range, cost of ownership, driving enjoyment, home charging, styling, safety and tech, the service experience, and quality and reliability.
This year’s study is based on the responses of more than 7,000 owners of 2022 and 2023 model year EVs, as well as plug-in hybrids, conducted between August and December 2022.