New electric vehicles found to be less reliable than petrol or diesel cars

Survey finds greater incidence of faults in first four years of EV ownership than in traditional models

Logic had dictated EVs were more reliable than their petrol and diesel counterparts by dint of having fewer parts. Photo: Alamy
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New electric cars are more likely to develop a fault than petrol and diesel models, a survey published on Thursday by consumer group Which? suggests.

The poll indicated that 31 per cent of electric car owners reported a problem with their vehicle in its first four years. That is compared with 19 per cent for petrol cars and 29 per cent for diesel cars.

Faulty electric vehicles spent an average of five days off the road compared with just three and four days for petrol and diesel cars respectively.

The survey casts doubt on the perception that EVs are more reliable than traditionally fuelled cars owing to having fewer moving parts.

EVs are generally more expensive than other models because of the high cost of their batteries.

The most common faults raised by EV drivers were software problems, rather than issues with the motor or battery.

Figures from the UK's Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show plug-in vehicles accounted for more than one in six new cars registered in Britain last year, with Elon Musk's Tesla leading the pack. More than 6.6 million electric vehicles were sold globally during this period.

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The sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be banned in the UK from 2030.

"We know that drivers are keen to make the move to more environmentally friendly cars but it is vital that they are getting a quality product," said Which? home products and services editor Lisa Barber.

She said there is a "significant opportunity for manufacturers to up their game and provide drivers with a reliable and more sustainable car".

"With EVs in particular, our research shows a premium price tag does not necessarily mean a reliable vehicle, so we would always encourage drivers to do their research ahead of such a significant purchase to see which cars and brands they can trust," she said.

The most reliable cars of any fuel type were found to be full hybrids, which feature a battery that can only be recharged from the main combustion engine.

More than 48,000 people told Which? about nearly 57,000 cars they own and drive, including 2,184 EVs.

Updated: March 03, 2022, 12:01 AM