PracticalReliabilityHow reliable are electric vehicles?

How reliable are electric vehicles?

If your business relies on transport – to deliver your products or for you and your team to visit customers – then the reliability of your electric vehicles is a really important aspect when looking at a switch from petrol or diesel to electric or hybrid for your business vehicles.

Like petrol-run vehicles, electric vehicles come with a warranty if you buy them new. The RAC’s survey of the market suggests that five to eight years for a warranty is standard, though some manufacturers fall either side of this. As you’re buying an electric vehicle new, you’ll likely be covered by the warranty if anything breaks that shouldn’t – provided the manufacturer is at fault and not you.

Whilst these warranties will protect you from major financial outlay as a result of a fault, there is more at stake if your business vehicles need frequent repairs. You might lose productivity or valuable business hours whilst your vehicle is being repaired, for example.

Here’s how electric vehicles stack up, reliability-wise.

Are electric vehicles reliable?

Generally, electric vehicles offer a good degree of reliability compared to their petrol counterparts. There are fewer moving parts in an electric motor, and other ancillary parts in electric vehicles wear down less compared to petrol vehicles. This means maintenance costs are generally low, simply on the basis that there are fewer components that can go physically wrong. However, there are more electronics to go wrong and if there’s a system failure with the vehicle’s on-board computer then the entire car or van is disabled – you can’t even push it along!

Equally, the exact degree of reliability you get from an electric vehicle will depend on make, model and age. TESLA’s groundbreaking Model S is forward thinking and futuristic in terms of what electric vehicles could do at the time – but has a relatively high number of faults for an electric vehicle. On the other hand, the Model 3 is famously reliable (with a What Car? rating of 99.4%).

Look towards newer models for peace of mind here as electric vehicle tech has come on such a long way in such a short space of time that there’s a noticeable difference between older and newer vehicles.

Are electric vehicles more reliable than petrol vehicles?

Well-respected car reliability surveys put electric vehicles in at least the same ballpark as petrol vehicles. In some categories, they even have a slight advantage. According to What Car?’s annual reliability survey, electric vehicles have a reliability rating of 85.7%-99.4%. This takes into account:

  • The number of new models with faults
  • Whether the vehicle could still be driven with these faults
  • How long these faults took to fix

Other groups surveyed included:

Electric cars’ reliability range is nearly identical to many of these categories, and even has the edge on luxury cars and family cars.

Obviously, this isn’t a perfect comparison. Electric vehicles are found in all of these categories and aren’t a distinctive use group in themselves. Equally, it does give you a rough idea of what to expect (and highlight some near failsafe options like the Tesla Model 3 and the Hyundai Kona).

What about battery degradation?

The more you charge your electric vehicle’s battery, the less efficient it becomes. You’ve probably seen the same problem with your laptop or mobile phone and the battery life gets shorter the older it gets and the more often you charge the device. This is a gradual process, but as a business user it’s worth bearing in mind before making a purchase.

Also important: electric vehicle tech is developing fast! What if by buying an adequate vehicle today, you missed out on a more cost-effective battery with a stellar range a couple of years down the line?

One solution to this problem is leasing your battery from the manufacturer. You use it for a per-month fee and trade it in for a better model as it starts losing capacity.

Battery lease isn’t available on all electric vehicles, but those that offer it retain a significant appeal to business users. Renault, for example, offer battery leasing on electric van models – as a result, their Kangoo model regularly tops best-selling lists across Europe.

Written by

Mark Hodgson
Mark Hodgson
Mark Hodgson is one of our expert writers. Mark is our lead researcher and editor who writes our main guides and expert topic coverage. He’s passionate about helping entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses with practical advice delivered clearly. Mark’s worked for a number of business magazines and titles and has started two small businesses himself, so has first-hand experience in setting up, managing and growing a small business and shares his expertise with our readers.

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