RAC quick to challenge conclusions drawn from ‘unreliable EV’ poll

RAC quick to challenge conclusions drawn from ‘unreliable EV’ poll
The findings of new Which? poll suggesting electric vehicles (EVs) are less reliable than petrol or diesel-powered models should be “taken with a pinch of salt”, the RAC’s head of technical says.

James Gibson singled out benefits like having fewer moving parts, easily rebootable software and handy over-the-phone maintenance, in championing EVs’ superior reliability credentials over the course of ownership.

The poll – which included views from the owners of almost 57,000 vehicles, 2,184 of which were EVs – surmised that electric cars are more likely than traditionally-fuelled models to develop a fault. However, the most common faults raised by EV drivers were software-based, rather than issues with motors or batteries. 

“These findings should be taken with a pinch of salt,” the RAC’s Mr Gibson said. “There is no question there are fewer moving parts with electric cars which makes them more reliable than a petrol or diesel car in the long run, but it’s also the case that the software running them is more complex which has the potential to cause some issues.”

A reported 31% of EV owners experienced difficulty in their vehicle’s first four years, compared to 29% (diesel cars) and 19% (petrol) – while faulty EVs spent an average five days off the road with an issue, compared to diesel (four days) and petrol (three).

Mr Gibson said: “It’s very important to realise that most software problems can be solved easily, either by wireless updates or ‘restarts’ in the same way as a desktop computer simply by disconnecting the 12v auxiliary battery and ‘rebooting’ the system, something our expert patrols routinely do for our members in these situations. Many manufacturers are also able to help drivers sort issues out over the phone by getting them to carry out certain functions to reboot systems.

“While taking a new electric car back to the dealership is clearly frustrating it can often be the case with any new car, regardless of how it’s powered.”

The RAC’s quick response was backed up by comments from Quentin Willson, motoring journalist and founder of the FairCharge campaign, who expressed his surprise at the poll's findings.

“I’m hugely surprised and rather disappointed by this Which? report because my experience of owning seven EVs over a decade has been one of total, faultless reliability. What’s more, I don’t believe it matches the experiences of the EV community, who report very high levels of reliability and customer satisfaction.”

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show plug-in vehicles accounted for more than one in six new cars registered in the UK last year. The sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be banned in the UK from 2030.

Have you gone electric? How reliable have you found them so far? Leave a comment below.

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