Expert Insights

Rivian Scores Best for EV Customer Satisfaction

Laurance Yap
July 9, 2023
What are the most satisfying EVs to own? Industry watchdog J.D. Power has released its annual ranking, and EV startup Rivian has topped the charts with its capable R1T pickup.
All new Rivian EV pickup

2023 J.D. Power Ownership Study

Drivers switch to electric vehicles for several reasons, but topping the list for switching are generally the potential cost savings compared to gasoline; the desire to reduce their carbon footprint; and the opportunity to drive vehicles with great performance and the latest technology. Those reasons may be why the Rivian R1T electric pickup truck emerged at the pinnacle of J.D. Power’s most recent electric vehicle experience (EVX) ownership study. The high-tech, high-performance, zero-emissions pickup scored highest of any vehicle on the market, with a score of 794 out of a potential 1,000 points.

The ownership study, which surveyed over 7,000 EV owners from across the country, scored new vehicles based on a number of factors, including driving enjoyment, quality, reliability, and interior and exterior styling. The Rivian’s win in the premium EV category was notable, as it achieved its high score in its first year of eligibility. In second place was one of the most popular EV models, the Tesla Model 3, with a score of 759 out of 1,000.

Mini Cooper EV

Mini Cooper Best Mass Market EV

In the mass-market category, the Mini Cooper Electric ranked highest, with a score of 782 out of 1,000, and earned top marks for quality and reliability. In second place was the sexy Kia EV6 crossover with a score of 762 out of 1,000, and the Ford Mustang Mach-E, with a score of 742. Customer satisfaction among owners of mass-market EVs was 730 out of 1,000, slightly below the average of 756 out of 1,000 for premium EVs. The most commonly-reported issues were with glitching and unreliable infotainment systems.

“The electric vehicle landscape is changing quickly, and newer models are bringing in more mainstream, first-time EV buyers,” said Brent Gruber, executive director of the EV practice at J.D. Power. Recent product launches from new brands as well as legacy automakers have had a huge effect on what factors are most important in the ownership experience. Whereas technology was once the biggest driver of high scores, today’s EV owners are looking for a balance of all aspects of ownership – ranking quality, reliability, and safety as high as the driving enjoyment and technology features.

Rivian camper truck with extended kitchen area

More First Time Owners

With more options available on the market at all price points, the survey showed an increase in the number of first-time electric car owners: 85 percent of respondents were driving their first EV, up significantly from 74 percent in the prior year. Not surprisingly, mass-market electric car ownership is growing faster than premium electric car ownership. 89 percent of mass-market EV owners are first-timers, up from 67 percent in 2022.

First-time electric car owners scored their EVs higher for quality and reliability than veteran electric car owners. They cited lower running costs and tax credits and incentives as primary reasons for purchase, but did not score their vehicles as highly as veteran EV owners for driving fun, technology, and other factors – perhaps reflective of how well-evolved the gasoline vehicles they were switching from have become.

Rivian RIT pickup

Good Marks for Towing

One new dimension to this year’s study was the inclusion of towing as a survey question. Interestingly, overall satisfaction among EV truck owners who have used their vehicle for towing was relatively high (779 points out of 1,000). Owners who have used their EVs for towing even ranked satisfaction with driving range higher than those who have not towed (635 versus 617 points). The scores show that truck manufacturers have done a good job communicating the deleterious effect towing has on range to owners – helping them set their expectations.