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BMW i4, Mini Cooper SE Hardtop Top 2024 J.D. Power EV Owner Satisfaction Survey

bmw i4 2024 exterior oem 01 jpg 2024 BMW i4 | Manufacturer image

With just shy of 1.2 million sold in 2023, electric vehicles accounted for nearly 8% of the new-car market in the U.S. Perhaps more important, their purchase prices are coming into line with those of internal-combustion engine vehicles, with average list prices in December 2023 coming in at around $64,000 for EVs, versus about $48,000 for gas-powered cars.

But that momentum will be short-lived if buyers don’t actually like owning an EV. J.D. Power’s Electric Vehicle Experience Ownership Study tracks how happy buyers are with their EVs. It is important to note that the study “focuses on the crucial first year of ownership,” in J.D. Power’s words, so it may represent the perspective of buyers still on the steepest part of the EV learning curve.

Related: J.D. Power Study Finds EV Owners’ Satisfaction With Public Charging Slipping

This year, 4,650 owners participated in the survey, rating their model-year 2023-24 vehicles and the ownership experience on a 1,000-point scale in 10 categories: accuracy of stated battery range; availability of public charging stations; battery range; cost of ownership; driving enjoyment; ease of charging at home; interior and exterior styling; safety and technology features; service experience; and vehicle quality and reliability. You’ll notice that ranked vehicles represent only a fraction of those currently available; that’s because the firm only calculates results for a model when at least 100 owners respond to the survey.

Vehicle Rankings

J.D. Power splits vehicles into two categories: Premium and Mass Market. The BMW i4 tops the rankings with a score of 800 (out of 1,000), bumping 2023’s winner, the Rivian R1T, to second place overall with 789 points. Both vehicles, as well as the R1T’s three-row SUV sibling, the R1S, also outperformed every single mass-market EV. For the second year in a row, the Mini Cooper SE Hardtop topped that category with a score of 770 this year. Full results are below.

ford mustang mach e premium 2023 63 exterior charging scaled jpg 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

Premium Segment

Mass Market

While J.D. Power does not share the full breakdown of each vehicle’s score or relative ranking in the 10 different categories, the firm did note that both the BMW i4 and Mini Cooper SE Hardtop significantly outperformed their competitors in vehicle quality and reliability. Both scored more than 60 points higher (out of 1,000) than the next highest vehicle in their respective categories.

It’s worth noting that J.D. Power’s definition of quality encompasses everything from issues with build quality — panel fit and paint finish — to an owner having difficulty learning infotainment-system menu structure or driver-assistance system settings. Their frequently lower tech content, as well as premium-buyers’ higher expectations for fit and finish, could very well be factors in mass-market models consistently outperforming premium EVs in terms of quality. J.D. Power notes that 11 of the 14 mass-market EVs rated higher than the premium-segment average in this metric.

Public Charging Continues to Frustrate

Tesla owners remain happier with the public-charging experience than drivers of other brands’ EVs, with satisfaction with public-charging availability dropping 32 points from 2023’s study. Brent Gruber, executive director of the EV practice at J.D. Power, said in a statement, “The industry should view this lack of improvement as a critical issue that requires decisive action.” Evidence suggests they do, with the litany of charging partnerships and infrastructure joint ventures announced in the last year. As the first of those partnerships start to give other brands access to the Tesla Supercharger network, we look forward to seeing how that impacts Tesla’s standing relative to those brands in the 2025 survey.

rivian r1t 2023 24 exterior rear angle scaled jpg 2023 Rivian R1T | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

First-Time Buyers Are Unsure About All of This

Not surprisingly, J.D. Power found that first-time EV buyers are more frustrated by the experience than those who have owned an EV before. In 2023, the gap between first-time and repeat buyers was 14 points; this year, it grew to 28, with range and public-charging availability being the two areas in which the groups notched the largest differences in satisfaction.

Not only are first-time buyers less satisfied with owning an EV, but nearly half (48%) reported that they will consider a plug-in hybrid for their next car, and 39% said they are willing to switch to a hybrid or traditional gas-powered vehicle. Comparatively, 38% of repeat EV buyers expressed interest in a PHEV, and just 19% said they’d consider a hybrid or gas vehicle.

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PHEV Buyers Say “Not So Fast”

Those first-time EV buyers might be wise to consider the testimony of plug-in hybrid owners, however. While J.D. Power doesn’t include PHEVs in its rankings for this report, the firm does note that those owners report lower overall satisfaction (629 points) than the averages for both mass-market and premium EV buyers. Gruber said, “Expected lower running costs is a top purchase reason for EVs, but satisfaction with the cost of ownership is much lower for plug-in hybrids.”

While the Electric Vehicle Experience Ownership Study highlights areas in need of improvement, it also points to the diverse expectations and needs of EV buyers. It’s long been assumed that a range of 250 or so miles would be necessary for large-scale EV adoption. But the leader in mass-market buyer satisfaction, the Mini Cooper SE Hardtop, has an EPA-estimated range of 114 miles — among the lowest figures for currently available vehicles.

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