Drivers are starting to encounter more technology issues with electric vehicles than they do with ICE vehicles, as traditional OEMs contend with disruptive brands such as Tesla.
More than 82,000 new car owners gave electric vehicles lower scores in 17 of 21 features listed in a survey conducted by J.D. Power. Researchers noted that 86% of the EV models examined also saw lower scores in the area of advanced technology, referring to emerging innovations such as driver assistance software and hands-free user interfaces. Among the brands studied by J.D. Power, Genesis ranked highest for consumer satisfaction across all segments. Cadillac and Lexus tied in second place for luxury brands, while Hyundai placed first among mass-market brands.
The comparatively poor performance of EVs in the study spells trouble for OEMs with ambitious electrification goals. Kathleen Rizk, senior director of user experience benchmarking and technology at J.D. Power, noted that: “The perception in the industry is that most BEVs should offer many advanced technologies to compete with high-tech entrants like Tesla.” The Elon Musk-led brand was not included in J.D. Power’s research. However, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Automobile Study 2022-2023 reported that Tesla tied in first place with Lexus for satisfaction in the luxury segment after rising three points in only a year. While the two studies analyzed different vehicle elements, it seems reasonable to conclude that Tesla is outpacing other automakers specifically in terms of technology, since that is where legacy brands are hoping to compete. In other words, OEMs are trying and failing to outdo the Musk-led brand in the areas where it excels.
To drive demand in the electric vehicle segment, OEMs may find it more beneficial to focus on the elements they are known for rather than on technological advancements. Research from Cox Automotive supports this conclusion. In a study of truck owners, Ford’s F-150 Lightning overwhelmingly outperformed Tesla’s Cybertruck in consumer preferences. Cox Automotive concluded that the Ford company’s reputation as a maker of quality pickups allowed it to retain loyal customers even when making the switch to electric. This indicates that automakers should not try to assume a different identity in the age of EVs, but should instead continue improving in areas where they already excel. Doing so may not only further improve EV adoption rates among non-Tesla brands but could also allow OEMs to finally penetrate the Musk-owned company’s loyal adherents.