More Expensive Electrons
It’s no secret that in the last year, electricity rates have risen across the U.S., during an inflationary period that saw the prices of everything from groceries to new vehicles. More expensive rates have led to reduced satisfaction with home charging among electric car owners, according to the latest J.D. Power Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) study. Compared to last year, overall satisfaction with home charging declined from 752 to 740 points on a possible 1,000-point scale.
The study assessed satisfaction across eight factors: fairness of retail price; cord length; size of charger; ease of winding or storing the cable; cost of charging; charging speed; ease of use; and reliability. The biggest drop in scoring was for cost of charging; across all segments, satisfaction declined by more than 30 points compared to the 2022 J.D. Power study. The scores for speed of charging (597 in 2023 versus 605 in 2022) dropped slightly as well, though the cost of charging was the primary driver of reduced satisfaction.
EV Owners Unaware of Financial Incentives
Interestingly, while many states and local authorities offer EV owners financial incentives and more attractive rates to charge during off-peak hours, just over half (51 percent) of EV owners said that they were knowledgeable about utility company programs for charging their vehicle at home. While this number is up compared to 49 percent last year, it highlights a need for dealers and power companies to increase awareness of available rebates and incentives. Doing so would improve customer satisfaction, reduce home charging concerns, an ultimately would support greater adoption of EVs. (GreenCars has a customizable incentive tool available here that can help you find out what may be available to you.)
Just over a third of the owners that J.D. Power surveyed (35 percent) scheduled their home charging, using either the vehicle’s built-in functionality, an app from the manufacturer, or an app from the charger’s manufacturer. Satisfaction was highest with using the vehicle manufacturer’s app, but users who scheduled their home charging to take advantage of the best rates showed increased satisfaction across the board. The lesson here? It pays to read the owner’s manual – and dealership staff should spend time with customers demonstrating how to schedule home charging.
Home Charging a Game Changer
For all EV owners, however, home charging was a game changer. Satisfaction scores for EV drivers able to charge at home were a whopping 179 points higher when using a permanently-mounted Level 2 home charger – 740 points compared to 561 points for those using a portable charger. Over two-thirds of respondents, 68 percent, used a Level 2 permanently-mounted solution for home charging, with 15 percent using Level 2 portable chargers, such as those often included with a new vehicle. Among Level 2 chargers, Tesla had the highest owner satisfaction ranking, followed by Grizzl-E and Emporia.
“Whether you’re an automaker, dealer, or utility company participating in the EV ecosystem, improving the EV owner experience with respect to home charging should be a common goal shared by all,” said Brent Gruber, executive director of the EV practice at J.D. Power. “There are programs available today that will help EV owners with the startup costs, such as installing or upgrading to a faster Level 2 charger. There are also programs designed to save EV owners money with the ongoing costs of charging their vehicle, like scheduling to charge during the most affordable time of the day. However, J.D. Power sees that there is little awareness and utilization of these benefits. As the EV marketplace continues to grow, brands that help owners take advantage of these offerings will be in a much better position down the road.”
J.D. Power’s U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Home Charging Study, benchmarks satisfaction with the critical attributes that affect the total or overall EV home charging experience for both battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Respondents included 13,860 owners of 2017-2023 model year BEVs and PHEVs. The study was fielded from December 2022 through February 2023.