Report: Rising Electricity Prices Drive Down EV Owner Satisfaction Levels

The growing electric vehicle (EV) marketplace is encountering rising electricity rates due in part to the recent U.S. inflationary period, resulting in lower satisfaction with home charging, according to the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience Home Charging Study released today.
Photo of electric car being charged
A J.D. Power study reports that rising electricity prices are leading to lower satisfaction with home charging of electric vehicles. // Stock photo

The growing electric vehicle (EV) marketplace is encountering rising electricity rates due in part to the recent U.S. inflationary period, resulting in lower satisfaction with home charging, according to the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience Home Charging Study released today.

In addition, J.D. Power, which is based in Troy, reports the increasing volume of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) being serviced at dealerships is contributing to a negative effect on overall customer service satisfaction, resulting in a year-over-year decline in score for the first time in 28 years.

According to the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study, satisfaction with the service experience declined 2 points to 846 (on a 1,000-point scale) in this year’s study.

Customer service satisfaction among owners of BEVs is 42 points lower than among owners of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. A leading factor is that recall rates are more than double for BEVs than their gas/diesel counterparts.

Additionally, service advisor knowledge continues to be a major satisfaction issue among BEV owners who provide a rating of 8.01 (on a 10-point scale) compared with 8.59 among owners of ICE vehicles.

“As the electric vehicle segment grows, service is going to be a ‘make or break’ part of the ownership experience,” says Chris Sutton, vice president of automotive retail at J.D. Power. “The industry has been hyper-focused on launches and now these customers are bringing their electric vehicles in for maintenance and repairs.

“As training programs for service advisors and technicians evolve, EV service quality and customer experience must address both the vehicle and the unique customer needs. The EV segment has the potential to spur massive convenience improvements in how customers service their vehicles — but we’re not seeing the benefits yet.”

In turn, EVs are more expensive relative to traditional vehicles, some battery materials like lithium are being sourced via child labor in the Congo, while owners must deal with long charging times and range anxiety. The battery packs are expensive to replace, and the constant weight of batteries means tires and brakes must be replaced more often than traditional vehicles.

The study, now in its 43rd year, includes emerging features such as valet service, mobile vehicle servicing, and online/smartphone app payment options to gauge the effect these processes have on the service experience.

The study measures satisfaction with service at franchised dealer or aftermarket service facilities for maintenance or repair work among owners and lessees of one- to three-year-old vehicles. It also provides a numerical index ranking of the highest-performing automotive brands sold in the United States, which is based on the combined scores of five measures that comprise the vehicle owner service experience.

These measures are (in order of importance): service quality (32 percent); service advisor (19 percent); vehicle pick-up (19 percent); service facility (15 percent); and service initiation (15 percent).

Following are key findings of the 2023 study:

  • Vehicle recalls drive satisfaction declines: Satisfaction declines 23 points when an owner must bring their vehicle in for a recall repair rather than for traditional maintenance or repair. Recall repair visits also have a negative effect on Net Promoter Score ratings, a vital metric for owners who share positive recommendations about a business. This is most evident with premium brands as the servicing dealership NPS declines 13 points when customers experience a recall.
  • Service departments getting the (text) message: In the 2019 CSI Study, 34 percent of owners expressed the desire to receive updates through simple text messages rather than phone calls, but only 9 percent actually did receive texts from dealerships. Now, dealerships have gotten the figurative message, and, as measured in the 2023 study, are now sending simple text messages 21 percent of the time to update customers vs. making a phone call (17 percent). The go-to communication method for service departments is now text messaging, as more than half (54 percent) of Generation X, Y, and Z customers say they prefer it.
  • Owners wait even longer for an appointment: Since the 2021 study, the number of days that owners wait for an appointment has increased 1.9 days for premium vehicles and 1.3 days for mass market vehicles. Appointment wait times are now 5.6 days for premium vehicles and 4.8 days for mass market vehicles. Labor, loaner vehicle availability, and parts shortages continue to be the catalyst for the increasing amount of time it takes to get a vehicle serviced.
  • Owners’ service preferences differ: Owners provide higher trust ratings for franchise dealerships than for aftermarket service facilities for complex repairs (6.14 on a 7-point scale) vs. 5.75 for aftermarket full-service maintenance and repair facilities. When ease of doing business is the primary driver, trust preference swings to aftermarket facilities for maintenance (6.18 vs. 6.11 for dealerships). These findings are based on a battery of similar questions asked both in the CSI Study and in the J.D. Power Aftermarket Service Index (ASI) Study.SM
  • Climbing the chart: The top three brands with the greatest improvement in year-over-year satisfaction rankings are Alfa Romeo (+59 points), Mitsubishi (+30), and Infiniti (+16).

Lexus ranks highest in satisfaction with dealer service among all brands for a second consecutive year, with a score of 900. Porsche (880) ranks second in the premium segment, followed by Cadillac (879) and Infiniti (878).

Mitsubishi ranks highest in satisfaction with dealer service among mass market brands for the first time, with a score of 884. Mazda (870) ranks second and Buick (867) ranks third.

For the first time in the study’s history, model segment rankings are now available to provide even more granularity. “A truck is not a car, and the vehicle needs are going to be different,” Sutton says. “Each vehicle segment has a unique service experience based on customer preferences, demographics and vehicle use, wear and tear, so it’s appropriate to recognize the different journeys that car, SUV and truck customers have in the service experience.”

Among premium cars, Lexus ranks highest (902), followed by Porsche (880) and Infiniti (878).

Among premium SUVs, Lexus (900) ranks highest. Cadillac and Porsche rank second in a tie, each with a score of 880.

Nissan (886) ranks highest in satisfaction among truck brands with a score of 886. Chevrolet (851) ranks second and GMC (843) ranks third.

In the mass market car segment, Subaru ranks highest (866). Mazda (863) ranks second and Honda (855) ranks third.

Mitsubishi ranks highest among mass market SUVs/minivans with a score of 884. Mazda (872) ranks second and Buick (867) ranks third.

See the rank charts for each segment here.

The 2023 U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study is based on responses from 64,248 verified registered owners and lessees of 2020 to 2022 model-year vehicles. J.D. Power goes to great lengths to ensure that survey respondents are true owners of the brand they are representing. The study was fielded from August through December 2022.

For more information about the U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study, visit here.

Meanwhile, J.D. Power reports more than two-thirds (68 percent) of EV owners use a Level 2 permanently mounted station, but their overall satisfaction declined 12 points year over year to 740 (on a 1,000-point scale).

While Level 2 portable and Level 2 permanently mounted charging stations are utilized by 83 percent of all users, their satisfaction with the cost of charging declines from the 2022 study by more than 30 points in each segment.

Also driving down overall satisfaction in the study is speed for all three home charging segments. The 2023 study finds that owners of 2022 and 2023 model EVs are less satisfied with their home charging speed (605 and 597, respectively) than owners of 2021 model EVs (616) and 2020 model EVs (608).

“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,” says 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.”

Satisfaction is measured across eight factors: fairness of retail price; cord length; size of charger; ease of winding/storing cable; cost of charging; charging speed; ease of use; and reliability. These factors provide a comprehensive assessment of the owner experience and charger performance.

Following are key findings of the 2023 study:

  • As electricity rates increase, educating owners becomes more critical: Just 51 percent of EV owners say they are knowledgeable about utility company programs for charging their vehicle at home, which is up slightly from 49 percent a year ago. “Customers are looking to utility companies to help manage rising costs,” says Adrian Chung, director of utilities intelligence at J.D. Power. “By increasing awareness of available rebates or incentives, EV owners will benefit. This can snowball into helping potential EV owners make a more informed purchase decision, as well as minimizing home charging concerns and supporting greater EV adoption.”
  • Scheduling charge time increases satisfaction: More than one-third (35 percent) of owners say they always schedule a time to charge their vehicle at home, while 49 percent do not use any scheduling. Among those choosing to schedule home charging via an app, satisfaction is highest when using the vehicle mobile app (739) rather than the charger mobile app (706).
  • Geography makes a difference with charging satisfaction: Overall satisfaction with Level 2 home charging is lower in all nine regions in this year’s study than a year ago, with New England having the largest decline of 27 points. The Level 2 satisfaction gap between regions is now 96 points (+20 from a year ago), ranging from a low of 689 in the New England region to a high of 785 in the East South Central region.
  • Home charging game changer: Satisfaction improves 179 points when moving up from a Level 1 portable charger (561) to a Level 2 permanently mounted charger (740). Across the eight factors in the study, owner satisfaction is higher in seven factors once the switch is made to a Level 2 permanently mounted charger, especially with charging speed (+373 points). A majority (60 percent) of current Level 1 users say they are likely to upgrade their home charging station to either a Level 2 permanently mounted charger or a Level 2 portable unit.

The study examines the home charging experience of EV owners across all three charger segments, but only the Level 2 permanently mounted charging station segment is award eligible.

Tesla ranks highest among Level 2 permanently mounted charging stations with a score of 790. GRIZZL-E (757) ranks second and Emporia (754) ranks third. The segment average is 740.

The U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Home Charging Study, now in its third year, is driven by a collaboration with PlugShare, a leading EV driver app maker and research firm. This study sets the standard for benchmarking 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). Survey respondents for the study included 13,860 owners of 2017-2023 model year BEVs and PHEVs. The study was fielded from December 2022 through February 2023.

For more information about the U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Home Charging Study, visit here.

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