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Reliability Ratings for Electric Cars Get a Boost

Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:45 am

I don't know if it is just because I engage myself more in EV news than 2 years ago but I believe they are getting much more media attention and the public is seeing the car companies iron out the creases and people are trusting the purchase of an EV a bit more as time goes on
Reliability Ratings for Electric Cars Get a Boost
The Wall Street Journal
Oct 19, 2017
Auto makers struggling to sell drivers on electric cars can look forward to one advantage of adding more battery-powered vehicles to their fleets: beefing up their reliability ratings thanks to the electric cars’ simplicity.
Influential product-review magazine Consumer Reports issued its latest reliability survey Thursday, saying General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla Inc.’s Model 3—two long-range electric cars selling for about $30,000—will have above average or average reliability respectively and should require less maintenance than regular gasoline-powered vehicles. The forecast is based on the fact neither car has an engine nor transmission, which are components made up of a lot of parts and require several years to engineer.
The prediction bodes well for other auto makers racing to make affordable electric cars that can travel over 200 miles on a charge. Although there is currently limited demand for long-range EVs, car companies plan to introduce significantly more of them to meet government regulations and keep up with expected shifts in consumer tastes.
GM and Tesla could both use a boost in the reliability department.
GM brands, for instance, typically perform worse than most other brands in their surveys, according to Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ head of automotive testing. Although released in January, the Bolt is already Chevy’s best-performing car when it comes to reliability, he said, a rare distinction in an industry where cars often need to be on sale for a considerable amount of time to work out “growing pains.”
GM has sold 14,302 Bolts through September.
While Tesla’s Model S sedan has generally been praised by Consumer Reports since going on sale in 2012, Tesla’s more-recent launch of the Model X SUV has faced criticism from other product testers. The Model 3, just now going on sale, has had hiccups out of the gate with major portions of the sedan still being built by hand away from automated production line as recent as September.
Mr. Fisher said although there isn’t data or real-world driving tests available yet, the Model 3 could succeed in the reliability department because it ”has similar technologies as the Model S and that’s been in production four to five years,” he said. “The Model 3 is the least complicated vehicle in Tesla’s lineup—it’s the Chromebook of cars,” referring to Alphabet Inc.’s Google-based platform for ultrasimple laptops.
Tesla, which has been unhappy with past Consumer Reports studies of its vehicles, reiterated past grievances with the magazine and questioned the forecast that the Model 3 would have average performance out of the gate.
“Regarding its predicted reliability rating for Model 3, it’s important to note that Consumer Reports has not yet driven a Model 3, let alone do they know anything substantial about how the Model 3 was designed and engineered,” a Tesla spokeswoman said in a statement.
Consumer Reports had yanked its recommendation for the Model S two years ago, citing quality complaints from owners like body squeaks and rattles and sunroof leaks. That marked a surprising turn for Consumer Reports, which until then had been a strong advocate for the Silicon Valley electric-car maker. The magazine’s seal of approval had been a central claim in Tesla’s marketing.
Tesla is seventh from the bottom out of 27 manufacturers in the 2017 reliability study, with rankings helped by the Model S, which the magazine recommended once again last year. The Model X, meanwhile, is tied with the Cadillac Escalade as the worst-performing vehicle.
GM’s Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC scored in the bottom third of all brands on issues with models like the GMC Acadia, which has reported problems with the drive system, power equipment and climate system. The Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid vehicle running on battery power and a backup gasoline engine, is below average for reliability due to the complexity of the design, Mr. Fisher said.
“General Motors places the utmost importance on vehicle quality and customer service,“ a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. ”While we take this study seriously, it is one of several data sources we use to measure customer’s satisfaction with our vehicles, including our own internal data, warranty results and JD Power vehicle dependability and initial quality studies—where all GM brands have consistently ranked much higher.”
Mr. Fisher said he expects the redesigned Nissan Leaf—which will go 150 miles on a single charge—will have above average reliability. The Leaf, on sale for several years with much lower battery power than the Model 3 and Bolt, has been among the only pure-electric vehicles on sale for a relatively affordable asking price. Nissan sold 10,740 Leafs through October, representing a sliver of the company’s overall U.S. sales.

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