EV Benchmark Study 2021: Fascinating electric cars with massive quality problems


The EV benchmark study shows the usage behaviour and satisfaction of electric car drivers with their e-car.

Usage habits and problems of over 2800 EV drivers

New electric models are coming onto the market in quick succession. The market share of electric cars is rising and Tesla is finally getting the competition it has been longing for. Which models fulfilled the expectations? Which one do not?

There is some social media content on user satisfaction, but no structured studies, data and analyses. That is why we at UScale – in cooperation with nextmove – have now for the second time comprehensively interviewed e-car drivers about their vehicles and let them have their say in detail.

In total, over 2800 electric car drivers responded and shared their usage habits, experiences, problems and wishes.

Much criticism, but the direction is right

The pioneers of electric mobility were enthusiastic about the then new technology. Although there were only a few models on the market at the beginning, often with a very short range, the so-called innovators rate their cars very positively. In 2020, the next buyer segment entered the market, the so-called early adopters. However, the models offered did not meet the high expectations of this customer group and satisfaction dropped significantly. In 2021, many new models with higher range and better technology have been introduced. User satisfaction is on the rise again. So the manufacturers have accepted the challenges.

An important statement on customer satisfaction is provided by the Net Promotor Score (NPS), a key figure for the recommendation rate. The course of the NPS shows the development very clearly.

* all brands weighted by market share

Figure 1: NPS values market average of battery electric vehicles
Basis: Answers to the question “Would you recommend your [Marke + Modell] to a friend or colleague?”

In 2022, the next buyer segment, the Early Majority, is expected to be looking for an e-car. Their expectations will again be higher than those of today’s customers. This further increases the demands on manufacturers.

Big differences between brands and models

The NPS value differs significantly at the brand and model level. Tesla’s Model 3 leads by a large margin in first place in the ranking. The VW group with Skoda, VW and Audi as well as the Korean sister brands Kia and Hyundai follow in the middle of the field. At the bottom of the list are two Stellantis models from Peugeot and Opel, Smart and the two Japanese brands Mazda and Nissan.

EV Benchmark Study 2021 - Brand Ranking Net Promotor Score

* small sample size

Graphic 2: The EV model ranking: Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Basis: Answers to the question “Would you recommend your [Marke + Modell] to a friend or colleague?”

The top 5 need for action

The main problem areas of the individual brands differ greatly. If the users are asked what the manufacturers should primarily work on, the following top needs for action are averaged across all brands:

  1. Range and charging power
  2. e-specific controls
  3. Connectivity and software
  4. general vehicle quality
  5. Equipment and model variety

EV-specific use cases not taken up

Most brands have developed their current battery-electric models from the world of combustion. This explains why many manufacturers are not satisfactorily solving important use cases for electric driving.

Three examples:

  1. Connectivity: Connect apps are becoming a central control element for charging management, but they clearly fail to meet expectations when it comes to functionality.
  2. Route and charging planning: manufacturer navigation systems contain charging stations as points of interest. However, only a few systems offer functions for charging planning along the route.
  3. Room concept: Those who charge publicly need frequent access to the charging cable. Storage space under the loading floor is unsuitable for this.
EV benchmark study 2021 - evaluation of the concepts

Figure 3: Evaluation of the concepts
Basis: Answers to the question “What do you mean? How mature are the technical concepts of your [Marke] to […]?”

Blatant quality problems

In addition to the unsatisfactory concepts, there are numerous quality problems. All in all, e-cars are nowhere near the level of maturity that users know and expect from the combustion engine.

Two examples:

  1. Reliability of the Connect app: One third of e-car drivers rated the reliability of the Connect app as poor, another third as in need of improvement.
  2. Problems charging: Almost two thirds report that they have problems charging at least occasionally. In most cases the loading process could not be started.
EV Benchmark Study 2021 - Reliability Connect App and Charging Issues

Figure 4: Reliability of the Connect app and problems with loading
Basis: Answers to the questions “What do you mean? How mature are the technical concepts of your [Marke] for the reliability of the Connect app?” and “How often do problems occur during charging?”

Automakers and suppliers need customer feedback for development

Combustion engines have been optimized for over 130 years. In comparison, electric cars are at the very beginning. Car manufacturers (OEM), suppliers and development partners invest a lot of money in new platforms. In order to be able to produce cost-effectively, manufacturers install their modules in as many models as possible. With the so-called blocking of components, however, customer problems, complaints and a lack of customer satisfaction are also “blocked”.

In order for the manufacturers to achieve high market shares and profitability with convincing concepts, the new models have to “arrive” with the customer. This only works if product managers and developers know the customer’s point of view. The UScale EV benchmark study makes an important contribution to this.

Uscale focus studies: user studies on electromobility

Since 2018, UScale has been systematically questioning e-car drivers about their expectations and experiences at all touchpoints of the e-mobile customer journey. For more information on the UScale focus studies, please see HERE.

Further information on the methodology and the content of the EV Benchmark study can be found HERE.

If you have any questions, please contact us at contact@uscale.digital.

About nextmove

nextmove is Germany’s leading electric car rental company, with 400 cars in 12 German cities. The company is considered an important opinion leader for electromobility and provides information on its YouTube The channel is manufacturer-independent and has a wide reach on all topics related to buying and driving electric cars. www.nextmove.de