EV owners experience more problems with their vehicles than owners of comparable internal-combustion cars, according to a new study, but the problem isn't the powertrains.
Published Thursday, the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Tech Experience Index (TXI) Study focuses on the user experience of automotive tech features, things like infotainment systems, advanced driver-assist features, and other things in that realm. On that front EVs performed worse than their gasoline and diesel counterparts.
J.D. Power surveyed 82,472 owners of 2023-model-year vehicles in the first 90 days of ownership, from February through May 2023. Owners were asked about 21 tech features common to both EV and internal-combustion models, and 17 of those had more quality problems per 100 vehicles for EVs (excluding Tesla, which wasn't officially ranked) than internal-combustion vehicles.
Examples of the gap between EV and internal combustion including remote parking assistance, with 27.4 problems per 100 vehicles for EVs and 10.7 for internal-combustion vehicles, and gesture controls, with 49.6 problems per 100 vehicles for EVs and 31.2 for internal-combustion vehicles. Owners were also generally annoyed by biometric features across the board.
Perhaps not surprisingly, owner satisfaction across 86% of the features surveyed was lower for EVs than internal-combustion models.
New EV-only brands like Lucid and Rivian tend to pack their vehicles with more tech features, J.D. Power noted. Among brands from established manufacturers, only Genesis matched these new brands' level of tech innovation. However, more tech generally brings more problems, the study found. The exception is Polestar, which had among the lowest reported problem levels of any brand.
2023 Polestar 2
Both Polestar and Genesis also performed well in last year's TXI Study, although the Genesis GV60 does employ biometrics in a deeper way that, based on the results of this year's study, owners may find off-putting.
Some EV-specific tech features also received praise. Plug-and-charge capability, which allows a car to automatically start charging by plugging into a public station, was considered essential, with 72% of owners saying they wanted it in their next vehicle. It also proved fairly reliable, with just six reported problems per 100 vehicles. The BMW iX and Mini Cooper SE also received "energy and sustainability" awards for their one-pedal driving.
2023 Genesis GV60
This latest study once again shows that in EVs, the trouble isn't the powertrain, but all the other tech. J.D. Power came to a similar conclusion in a study published in 2022, but it may not be the only issue keeping EV customer satisfaction down.
A J.D. Power survey published earlier this year found that more people are rejecting EVs, but that has more to do with price and charging availability than tech. More recently, the firm found that one in five EV charging attempts fails. So charging may still be the bigger issue here.