Peugeot electric car plugged into a Source London EV charging point, March 2021Peugeot electric car plugged into a Source London EV charging point, March 2021

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Which? survey finds that new electric cars are less reliable than petrol or diesel models

  • New electric cars less reliable than petrol and diesel counterparts, Which? survey finds
  • Poll of 48,000 found that 31 per cent of electric car owners experienced problems in first four years
  • Just 19 per cent of petrol car owners reported issues and 29 per cent of diesel car owners
  • RAC slams survey and says results should be ‘taken with a pinch of salt’

Time 7:21 am, March 3, 2022

A Which? survey of motorists has found that new electric cars are more likely to develop a fault than petrol and diesel models.

In the poll of more than 48,000 people, 31 per cent of electric car owners admitted they had experienced a problem with their vehicle in its first four years.

That figure dropped considerably for owners of petrol and diesel cars with 19 per cent and 29 per cent reporting problems respectively.


Faulty EVs spent an average of five days off the road compared with just three days for petrol cars and four for diesel-powered motors.

The most common faults raised by EV drivers were software problems, rather than issues with the motor or battery.

The survey casts doubt on the perception that EVs are more reliable than traditionally fuelled cars due to having fewer moving parts.

The latest SMMT figures plug-in vehicles accounted for more than one in six new cars registered in the UK last year.


The sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be banned in the UK from 2030.

Lisa Barber, Which? home products and services editor, said the results provided a ‘significant opportunity for manufacturers to up their game and provide drivers with a reliable and more sustainable car’.

She said: ‘We know that drivers are keen to make the move to more environmentally-friendly cars but it is vital that they are getting a quality product

‘With EVs in particular, our research shows a premium price tag does not necessarily mean a reliable vehicle, so we would always encourage drivers to do their research ahead of such a significant purchase to see which cars and brands they can trust.’

The most reliable cars of any fuel type were found to be full hybrids.

More than 48,000 people told Which? about nearly 57,000 cars they own and drive, including 2,184 EVs.

‘Findings should be taken with a pinch of salt’

In response to the findings, the RAC said the results should be taken ‘with a pinch of salt’.

James Gibson, the firm’s head of technical, insisted that EVs are more reliable ‘in the long run’.

He said: ‘These findings should be taken with a pinch of salt.

‘There is no question there are fewer moving parts with electric cars which makes them more reliable than a petrol or diesel car in the long run, but it’s also the case that the software running them is more complex which has the potential to cause some issues.

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‘But it is very important to realise that most software problems can be solved easily, either by wireless updates or ‘restarts’ in the same way as a desktop computer simply by disconnecting the 12v auxiliary battery and ‘rebooting’ the system, something our expert patrols routinely do for our members in these situations.

‘Many manufacturers are also able to help drivers sort issues out over the phone by getting them to carry out certain functions to reboot systems.’

He added: ‘While taking a new electric car back to the dealership is clearly frustrating it can be the case with any new car, regardless of how it’s powered.’

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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