Consumer Reports has been a long-time standard of unbiased product testing and reviews that the American public trusts. Their 2024 vehicle reliability survey results are great news for consumers but bad news for electric vehicles (EVs) and their owners.
Consumer Reports' survey results indicate that EVs are vastly less reliable than internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.
What Consumer Reports' Survey Results Reveal
Consumer Reports found ICEs to be a staggering 79 percent more reliable than EVs. (Talk about winning by a landslide.) Plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs) scored even worse in the survey; they're 146 less reliable than ICE vehicles. However, traditional hybrid vehicles scored the best, beating out ICE cars by being 26 percent more reliable.
Consumer Reports procured these statistics from surveying over 330,000 car owners whose vehicles range from older 2000 models to more recent 2024 automobiles. In scoring their survey, Consumer Reports looks at minor issues, such as interior trim damages and squeaky brakes, to significant problems like EV battery and charging issues and engine troubles not covered by warranty.
Consumer Reports indicate ICE vehicles have 17 “potential trouble areas,” whereas EVs have 12. Hybrids have 19, and PHEVs have 20. The difference between “trouble areas” for each type of vehicle is due to each one having different parts. For example, EVs don't experience the kinds of transmission or engine troubles that ICEs usually suffer. Hence, they have fewer “areas” to look out for.
However, EVs still scored drastically worse regarding reliability than ICEs despite having five fewer “potential trouble areas.” In comparison, PHEVs scored astronomically worse than ICEs while only having three more “potential trouble areas.” Why is that?
New Technology Comes With Growing Pains
In the case of EVs, having a more streamlined drivetrain architecture and fewer overall moving parts compared to ICEs has yet to result in fewer issues because of their shorter production history. Because preeminent automakers have been producing ICEs for so long, they've had plenty of trial and error to work out the kinks in those vehicles. However, the technology in newer EVs and PHEVs is still so recent that manufacturers are still learning to fix all the bugs.
Electric SUVs and Sedans did not score well in the survey, with marks of 43 and 44 out of 100. Behind them are electric pickup trucks with a reliability score of 30. It's worth noting that electric pickups are so new that Consumer Reports only included two in their survey: the Rivian R1T and the Ford F-150 Lightning.
Rivian, which has struggled to reach profitability due to its complicated production process, was found to have issues with the “build quality” of its vehicles, according to Motor1. Rivian's production methods are expensive and challenging because they add more metal into their vehicle designs, which sometimes have to be welded multiple times. It's part of their efforts to improve the R1T's crash test scores.
Unfortunately, that costly extra production procedure is not helping their electric trucks' reliability.
As far as EVs go, older vehicles, like the Tesla Model 3, are recommended by Consumer Reports as being reliable. It's a positive sign that EV reliability will improve as manufacturers gain more experience working out their bugs.