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Is EV reliability better than gas models?

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One of the big selling points for electric vehicles is the lack of maintenance that comes along with them. As we saw with the Ford F-150 Lightning, long-term maintenance costs are significantly lower than gas models because of the lack of oil changes and whatnot. But if EV reliability isn’t good, maintenance costs are moot.

So, are they or aren’t they?

EV reliability for SUVs, trucks

Because the EV segment is still relatively nascent, we don’t have a lot of data on long-term reliability. But, Consumer Reports recently released a story about the most-reliable EVs with the Tesla Model 3 and Nissan Leaf topping the list. That’s all good and well, but this is a pickup truck and SUV website, so we decided to follow the data and see which electric SUVs and trucks are going to be the most reliable.

Here’s a hint: It’s not the Ford Mustang Mach-E or F-150 Lightning – those both get relatively poor predictively reliability scores. In fact, according to the NHTSA, the Mach-E has had 6 recalls and 36 complaints logged, and the Lightning has had 8 recalls and 77 complaints.

Consumer Reports has even dropped the Mach-E from its recommended list. Yikes.

If it isn’t a vehicle from Ford Motor Co., which automaker gets the bragging rates for top EV reliability? Kia Motors America.

The Kia EV6 is the only EV (let me say this again: the only EV) with top marks in the predictive reliability category. That includes cars. What’s more, the EV6 as a first-year model only has 1 recall and has only logged 16 consumer complaints, and that’s out of just more than 17k sales units sold.

So, what are the most reliable SUVs after the EV6? No surprise here: Both the Genesis GV60 and Hyundai Ioniq 5, which are built on the EV6 platform, get mid-level marks. After that it goes downhill fast with the Jaguar I-Pace, Volkswagen ID4, Mustang Mach-E, Tesla Model X, Tesla Model Y, Audi e-tron and Porsche Taycan getting less than stellar marks for predictive reliability.

The worst of the bunch according to Consumer Reports: Hyundai Kona Electric and Chevrolet Bolt EUV. The rest of the electric SUVs have yet to be rated.

There are only two electric pickup trucks on the list, F-150 Lightning and Rivian R1T, and neither of those scored well for predictive reliability.

So, what does this mean for EV reliability?

Frankly, it’s too soon to tell. If you look at the Consumer Reports data, they’ll tell you EVs typically have more frequent problems as a category. Because you don’t have complicated transmissions, spark plugs, water pumps, engine or transmission fluid (among other things) in an EV, they have fewer parts and should have less wear and tear.

But they don’t. They complaints are just different.

Instead, as Consumer Reports points out, the complaints are associated with battery packs, charging and electric motors – you know EV things. And while Nissan and Tesla have been producing electric vehicles for more than a decade now, the rest of the automakers are still finding their way. They’re producing completely new vehicles on completely new platforms with a lot of cutting-edge technology. So, the end of that story: It’s going to take time for EV reliability to improve.

The bottom line

Unfortunately, Tesla’s and Nissan’s best EVs are cars. So, if you want a reliable electric truck or SUV, well you can either take your chances on one of the Korean trio EVs or wait.

One vehicle that isn’t listed and is just going on sale that might be worth a calculated reliability risk is the Nissan Ariya. With the Leaf under its belt, Nissan might be the best old-school automaker to produce a vehicle with the best EV reliability moving forward.

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Jill Ciminillo

Jill Ciminillo is the Managing Editor for Pickup Truck + SUV Talk as well as a Chicago-based automotive writer, YouTube personality and podcast host, with her articles and videos appearing in outlets throughout the U.S. Additionally, she co-hosts a weekly radio show on car stuff for a local Chicago station. Previously, Jill has been the automotive editor for both newspaper and broadcast media conglomerates. She is also a past president for the Midwest Automotive Media Association and has the distinction of being the first female president for that organization. Jill is also currently a juror for the North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year (NACTOY).

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