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Busting EV Powertrain Durability Myths

Our latest analysis of long-term EV powertrain reliability attempts to disprove the common misconceptions that used battery-electric vehicles are widely undependable and offer poor longevity.

Our research is focused on three of the UK’s most recognisable plug-in models – the Tesla Model S, Nissan Leaf and BMW i3 – and looks at the frequency of repairs, common faults, cost of repair and age at the time of repair. We have also evaluated is the rate of repair and the average cost of repair for similar combustion models.   

Of the three models, the most reliable was the spacious and comfortable Nissan LEAF. Widely regarded to be one of the first truly mass-market electric vehicles, just two of these pioneering family hatchbacks required repairs from all the active policies for this model. One fix was made to a vehicle’s mirror assembly, while the other addressed an electrical fault. Comparably, Nissan’s ICE-powered compact crossover, the Juke, recorded a not-insignificant repair percentage of 14%.

The intelligently packaged and immensely desirable BMW i3 also scores well in the reliability standings overall. With a respectable repair percentage of 18% against the total number of active warranties currently held on the model by Warrantywise. Some of the most common repairs being due to issues with the air conditioning system and the car’s electrical systems. BMW’s closest combustion-engined equivalent, the 1-Series, saw a higher 21% repair rate.

Our CEO, Lawrence Whittaker, said: “Scepticism surrounding the reliability and powertrain longevity of EV technology – particularly the ability of the batteries to consistently hold full battery charging capacity – has been a concern in the early uptake of plug-in electric vehicles.”

“It is really encouraging to see that the major EV components such as the powertrain, outperform petrol and diesel counterparts after the manufacturer’s warranty expires. Overall numbers of repairs and the severity and complexity of them are encouragingly low for anyone eyeing up a second-hand EV bargain.”

“Our reliability data index provides the most accurate snapshot of real-world data anywhere in the market and helps to prove that plug-in EVs can be a great used buy. With a Warrantywise plan in place, buyers have complete peace-of-mind that they are fully covered against any major mechanical defects for the duration of their cover.”

While the Nissan LEAF and BMW i3 delivered strong results in our Reliability Index, the long-term performance of the Tesla Model S does fall behind that of the more established manufacturers. The first mass-produced EV by the Californian technology giant, 41% of the vehicles required remedial work, however the majority of the recorded repairs centered around electrical faults rather than any major repairs to the electric motors and batteries.  

 NOTE: All Warrantywise data based on a minimum sample size of 100 vehicles per make and per model. All data contained within the Warrantywise Reliability Index relates to repairs between 01/01/2018 and 30/04/2020 and may not represent the reliability of new vehicles as the cars Warrantywise has on cover are all over three years old.