Consumer insights and analytics specialist J.D. Power has released its annual US Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Ownership Study that relays not only an increase in EV customer satisfaction but also a shift to more traditional factors, like vehicle quality and styling, rather than categories like range. In its first year of eligibility, the Rivian R1T garnered the top satisfaction rating amongst premium EVs, dethroning 2022’s leader, the Tesla Model 3.

J.D. Power is an American consumer intelligence company founded in the late 1960s that uses big data and AI to evaluate detailed consumer interactions and trends across many industries, including automotive, financial services, healthcare, insurance, technology, and media.

Each year, the company releases its US Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Ownership Study, which benchmarks customer satisfaction with the critical attributes that affect the total or overall EV ownership experience.

For the past two years, the study has been conducted through the EV driver app and research firm PlugShare and has rated BEVs and PHEVs in both the premium and mass-market automotive segments. J.D. Power’s leading premium BEV for 2022 was the Tesla Model 3, joined by the Kia Niro EV as the highest-rated mass-market model.

This year, however, J.D. Power is reporting a new premium EV with the highest customer satisfaction that also represents a shift in factors most important to customers, like towing. Here’s the 2023 data:

Rivian R1T takes J.D. Power crown for premium EVs

According to J.D. Power’s 2023 EVX Ownership Study, the Rivian R1T and MINI Cooper electric have the highest levels of owner satisfaction for premium and mass-market Evs, respectively. The R1T ranked highest in seven of the 10 categories within the study for a total of 794 points (out of 1,000). Second was the Tesla Model 3, with 759 points.

The MINI electric garnered 782 points, followed by the Kia EV6 (762) and Mustang Mach-E (742). Compiling all three years of the study, J.D. Power points out that customer satisfaction for premium EVs averages 756 points, while mass-market vehicles sit at 730. Executive director of the EV practice at J.D. Power Brent Gruber spoke to this year’s results:

The electric vehicle landscape is changing quickly, and newer models are bringing in more mainstream, first-time EV buyers. Recent vehicle launches from both new brands and traditional automakers have had a profound effect on what factors are most important in the ownership experience. Today’s EV owners are looking for quality, reliability, driving enjoyment, safety and technology features.

According to J.D. Power, the biggest inhibitors to customer satisfaction in premium EVs are squeaks and rattling, while infotainment remains the biggest complaint for mass-market BEV owners for a third consecutive year. Mass-market vehicle owners also reported a much larger qualm with public charging availability as those EVs do not have access to Tesla’s Supercharger network… but only for a bit longer.

The past year brought the debut of multiple all-electric trucks in addition to the Rivian R1T, and customer satisfaction surprisingly reflected positive feedback for those who did use their all-electric towing capabilities. Drive range satisfaction was also higher among those who towed compared to those who hadn’t, stating that estimated range accuracy met customer expectations.

First-time BEV ownership is up 11% compared to 2022, and mass-market EVs are seeing adoption at a higher rate than premium models. Those customers note decreased operational costs and tax credits as their primary reasons for purchasing their first EV, while driving performance remains the top reason for first-time premium BEV buyers.

J.D. Power states that customers for the study included 7,073 owners of 2022 and 2023 model-year BEVs and PHEVs who were surveyed from August through December 2022.