In the first three months of 2023, electric vehicle owners expressed a record number of complaints about their vehicles.
The Motor Ombudsman received 273 complaints in January–March, 163% more than in 2022 (104).
Despite owner worries, this was attributed to the rising number of electric vehicles on the road.
One-third of all complaints were about customer service at the time of EV purchase. And one-fifth of complaints were about chassis, brakes, suspension, and wheels.
One of the largest percentage increases in complaints was regarding range, with twice as many drivers claiming they were unable to travel the manufacturer-recommended distance on a full charge.
The ombudsman received most EV complaints in March, one of the two most popular months for new car purchases.
For the first time, the ombudsman received more than 100 electric vehicle complaints in March, 42% of all consumer complaints.
Customer service and consumer experience at the time of purchasing an electric vehicle accounted for 32% of complaints in the first quarter, up from 27% in the same period in 2022.
Among the complaints were delays in obtaining a brand-new EV and a subpar handover procedure when collecting their battery-powered motor.
Incorrect vehicle specifications at the time of delivery due to a lack of components was another common complaint, as was a miscommunication regarding the vehicle’s history at the time of sale.
According to the data, approximately 70% of purchase-related issues involved a brand-new vehicle.
In the first quarter, 21% of EV complaints were vehicle difficulties.
Brake, suspension, and wheel difficulties were the main complaints in the same three months of 2022.
Increase in EV range and charging-related complaints
One of the areas with the greatest increase in complaints was vehicle range.
The percentage of drivers who were dissatisfied with not being able to come close to the advertised range on a full charge increased from 6% in 2022 to 12% this year, although the ombudsman explained that this was primarily due to reduced battery capacity in harsher winter temperatures.
In 2022, 10% of EV driver complaints were about interior and cabin systems, up from 7% in 2022.
This includes defective USB ports, climate control interfaces, heating, and in-car microphones. Which prevent the use of such features, according to the ombudsman.
Nine percent of January-March electric vehicle complainants had electrical and software concerns.
Among the issues highlighted in the case of submissions over the past three months were vehicles that did not recognize keys, apps that did not function due to software bugs, and electrical issues that caused safety system failures.
6% of problems were related to charging and were primarily centered on failures of the primary charging unit within the first few months of ownership and the inability of the vehicle to charge to its maximum capacity due to software issues.
Over a quarter (27%) of those who have filed a complaint regarding an electric vehicle so far this year received a full refund to help resolve their dispute, followed by compensation (17%) and vehicle rejection (16%).
The remaining forty percent are either unresolved or have no solution.
In addition, the average monetary value assigned by drivers to their preferred outcomes was £13,000. A significant increase from the $10,800 recorded during the same period in 2022.
Bill Fennell, the chief ombudsman, stated, “Reflecting the trend observed over the past two years, the level of customer service provided by a business and a consumer’s experience at the time of purchasing an electric vehicle was the most notable sources of dissatisfaction during the first quarter of 2023.”