Electric Car Ownership Satisfaction Increases as Gasoline Declines

Laurance Yap
July 25, 2023
Industry watcher J.D. Power has released its latest ownership satisfaction survey. Overall, owners are less happy with 2023 models than 2022, though electric cars showed a slight improvement. According to the study, in-car tech is the source of many dissatisfied owners.
Kia EV6 in dark silver parked with autumn forest in the background

Decreasing Satisfaction With New Cars

For 28 years, customer-insights company J.D. Power has surveyed car owners about their overall satisfaction with the vehicles they’ve purchased. The APEAL (Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout) study tracks customer satisfaction. This year’s study, released in July, shows that overall customer satisfaction has declined slightly across the industry, with the notable exception of electric cars, where owners are more satisfied than ever.

Electric Cars Showed Slight Improvement

Overall, ranked on a scale of 1,000 points, electric cars excluding Tesla averaged 840 points, up from 838 points in 2022. While that average is slightly lower than gasoline vehicles, which averaged 843, satisfaction with gas-powered vehicles is trending downwards, two points down from 2022 and three points down from 2021. Improved quality, features, and range are driving higher scores for EVs.

For the second consecutive year, electric cars scored better for “fuel economy,” indicating that consumers’ range anxiety has started to ease. Fuel economy was the only factor that showed improved scores compared to 2022 with gasoline cars; all other aspects ranked lower.

J.D. Power ranks Tesla vehicles separately from other electric cars due to their extremely high market share, and Tesla models received an average score of 878 – significantly higher than the industry average. However, Tesla’s score in 2023 was nine points lower than in 2022 when the brand was first included in the study. Satisfaction scores for Tesla declined year over year across all 10 factors surveyed by J.D. Power.

Two people inside parked car

Four EVs Receive Top Rankings

Among the top models in each vehicle segment, a number of EVs received awards for the highest customer satisfaction:

·      The Porsche Taycan, one of our favorite EVs, was ranked best upper midsize premium car

·      The Kia EV6 and Nissan Ariya tied for best compact SUV

·      The BMW iX was named top premium midsize SUV

The best-performing premium brands in the J.D. Power survey were Jaguar, with a rank of 887 out of 1,000 points, followed by Land Rover and Porsche, tied at 883 points, with BMW fourth at 878 points. Dodge was the highest-ranked mass-market brand with a score of 887, the same as Jaguar, while Ram (873 points) and GMC (858 points) came in third. The top-ranked vehicle in the survey was the Porsche 911, which garnered 914 points.

image courtesy J.D. Power

Buyers Dissatisfied With In-Car Tech

The study had a number of interesting findings, many of them centered around the technology found in modern cars. Built-in infotainment systems in all cars aren’t resonating with owners, with just 56 percent of owners using the built-in system to play audio, down massively from 70 percent in 2020.  

Less than half of vehicle owners use the built-in infotainment system to make phone calls, operate the navigation, and use voice recognition, preferring to use their smartphone interface, such as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, instead. Vehicle models such as the electric Polestar 2, which use the Android Auto Operating System (AAOS) with Google Automotive Services (GAS) scored much higher in the infotainment category than those without.

“Despite the technology and design innovations that manufacturers put into new vehicles, owners are lukewarm about them,” said Frank Hanley, senior director of auto benchmarking at J.D. Power. “While innovations like charging pads, vehicle apps and advanced audio features should enhance an owner’s experience, this is not the case when problems are experienced. This downward trajectory of satisfaction should be a warning sign to manufacturers that they need to better understand what owners really want in their new vehicles.”

J.D. Power’s 2023 U.S. APEAL study results were based on responses from over 84,000 owners of 2023 model year vehicles who were surveyed after 90 days of ownership.

A young couple admiring the forest and trees next to their RAV4 Hybrid

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