Service Satisfaction is Down and EVs are to Blame

Laurance Yap
Apr 2023
Electric vehicles are the reason customer satisfaction scores are declining among American drivers. More recalls, and poor knowledge in the service department, have resulted in the first decline in CSI scores in 28 years, according to J.D. Power.
Woman dissatisfied with her EV.

EV Drivers Less Satisfied

Industry watcher J.D. Power has been tracking customer satisfaction for over 40 years with its Customer Service Index (CSI) study. Thanks in part to the attention that customer service gets thanks to surveys like these, the automotive industry has been on a general upward trend for almost as long. But, thanks to significantly lower satisfaction scores from electric car owners, service satisfaction dropped for the first time in 28 years. 2023’s national average of 846 out of a total 1,000 points was only a two-point drop compared to 2022 – but was fueled entirely by significantly lower scores from EV drivers.

How much worse is satisfaction for electric car owners? Significantly so. Indeed, customer service satisfaction among owners of EVs was 42 points lower than for owners of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. The lower scores were driven largely by a greater number of recalls for EVs compared to their gasoline and diesel counterparts. But another major factor was the knowledge of service advisors, which continues to be a major issue among EV owners. On average, electric car owners rated their service advisors 8.01 out of a possible 10 points, compared to 8.59 out of 10 for gasoline vehicles.

Woman distressed by her ev

With More EV Recalls, Service Knowledge Needs Improvement

J.D. Power’s numbers show that as electric vehicle sales grow, the service experience is going to be an increasingly important component of overall ownership. While electric vehicles do not require as much routine maintenance like oil changes and fluid flushes, their advanced technology requires attention; indeed, data shows EVs actually visit dealership service departments more often for problems with electronic systems.

“The industry has been hyper-focused on launches and now these customers are bringing their electric vehicles in for maintenance and repairs,” said Chris Sutton, vice president of automotive retail at J.D. Power.” As training programs for service advisors and technicians evolve, EV service quality and customer experience must address both the vehicle and the unique customer needs. The EV segment has the potential to spur massive convenience improvements in how customers service their vehicles—but we’re not seeing the benefits yet.”

Thanks to their cutting-edge tech, EVs have had more than their fair share of recalls – which has had a major effect on reduced satisfaction scores. In fact, J.D. Power says that satisfaction declines by 23 points when an owner must bring their vehicle in for a recall repair – rather than traditional maintenance or repair. Recall visits also have a negative effect on net promoter score (NPS) ratings – which track how owners share positive recommendations with their friends and family. Customers’ NPS declined by 13 points when they experienced a vehicle recall.

Poor service satisfaction isn't the only issue EV owners are experiencing; public charging reliability continues to be an issue as the number of EVs on our roads increases.

Lexus EV lifestyle photo

Lexus Ranked Top Electric Car Brand

Overall, the 2023 J.D. Power CSI survey ranked Lexus highest in customer satisfaction for dealer service. Its total score of 900 was tops for the second consecutive year; interestingly, Lexus did not yet have a fully-electric vehicle in its lineup when the survey was conducted. Porsche, with a score of 880, ranked second in the premium segment, and has had the all-electric Taycan on sale since 2022. Cadillac and Infiniti were ranked third and fourth in the premium category.

Among mainstream brands, Mitsubishi ranked highest in dealer satisfaction for the first time with a score of 884, with Mazda (870) and Buick (867) following closely behind; none of these brands had a full EV in their lineup during the survey period.

J.D. Power’s 2023 U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study was based on responses from over 64,000 owners and lessees of 2020 to 2022 model-year vehicles. The survey responses were collected between August and December 2022.

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