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First-time EV owners are charmed by electric, but brands have a lot to lose, study suggests

Most first-time EV owners are very satisfied with the experience—especially with respect to service, driving enjoyment, and styling. And satisfaction with range is a key purchase reason for certain EV models.

Those are among the findings from J.D. Power’s 2022 U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience Ownership Study (EVX), released Thursday.

And there are some indications that those who buy an EV will get an EV again, even if they’re not completely satisfied—while the brands have everything to lose. Power points out that as ownership satisfaction falls, the percentage likely to purchase another EV holds, but the percent likely to purchase it from the same brand plummets.

“We know from our research that many consumers have concerns during the purchase consideration process with aspects like battery range and vehicle charging,” said Brent Gruber, the senior director of global automotive at the firm. “However, once someone has purchased a BEV, they’re pretty much hooked.”

Incentives boost satisfaction, the study found, especially when they’re easy to get. Range satisfaction and quality/reliability were other key factors.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance

The top two models in the study were the Tesla Model 3 and Tesla Model Y, with the Kia Niro EV and Ford Mustang Mach-E achieving the top ratings among EVs from full-line brands.

There’s a dividing line in the types of problems experienced in mainstream-brand EVs versus premium-brand ones. Power found that while the leading cause of issues for mass-market EVs is infotainment systems, premium EV models tend to have issues with exterior quality or with squeaks and rattles.

Those are some of the same problem areas that Consumer Reports recently pointed to in an analysis of EV problem areas.

2020 Audi E-Tron Sportback

2020 Audi E-Tron Sportback

“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,” said Gruber. “There’s essentially more to go wrong.”

The study was conducted with PlugShare, in October and November 2021 and included responses from 8,122 owners of 2016-2022 model-year battery electric models and plug-in hybrids.

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