Most (and least) reliable electric cars

Electric cars are at the cutting edge of technology, but does that make them more or less prone to faults, and which are the most and least dependable models?...

Most reliable electric cars - Tesla Model 3

Electric cars are still relatively new to the mainstream, so you might be a bit worried about whether their technology can be relied on. Fortunately, the answer generally appears to be 'yes', with owners of most models rating them very highly in our 2021 Reliability Survey.

For the survey, we asked more than 16,000 What Car? readers to let us know if their cars had suffered any faults over the past year, and if so, which areas went wrong.

Electric cars achieved an average score of 92.9%. Here we've looked closer at the data to name the most and least dependable electric cars up to five years old.

Tesla Model 3 2021 front cornering

The Tesla Model 3 is the most reliable electric executive car, but that's not to say that it’s perfect: 27% of owners reported faults, mostly with the bodywork and the non-motor electrics. Of those faulty cars, 93% could still be driven, but 21% took longer than a week to repair. The good news is that all repairs came at zero cost to customers.

BMW i3 2018 front cornering

Reliability rating: 94.1%

While it impressed with its low fault rate last year, the story is a bit different for the i3 in 2021, because just over one in five cars (22%) experienced an issue. The two main culprits were the bodywork and non-motor electrics, but 18% of cars were taken off the road by their problems. A further 18% took more than a week to repair, and 9% of owners had to pay between £201 and £300 to have their car to be fixed. 

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3. Kia e-Niro (2019-present)

Kia e-Niro 2020 RHD front right cornering

Reliability rating: 95.8%

Just 8% of e-Niro owners reported faults with their cars, and these were mostly with the battery or motor electrics. However, a staggering 71% of vehicles were rendered undriveable by their issues, and 57% took more than a week to fix. It’s a good thing, then, that all repairs came at no cost to customers.

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2. MG ZS EV (2019-present)

Electric Car of the Year Awards 2021 - MG ZS EV

Reliability rating: 96.5%

The ZS EV's reliability rating is 7% better than it was last year, taking it from one of the least reliable electric cars to the second most reliable. While 13% of owners reported faults, they were mostly bodywork issues, and all the cars could still be driven. None of the owners had to pay for repair work, but 40% of customers did have to wait longer than a week for their car to be fixed.

Nissan Leaf

Reliability rating: 98.6%

You might expect cars to start developing faults en masse as a model ages, but that’s simply not true of the previous-generation Nissan Leaf. Only 12% of owners reported an issue with theirs, and the brakes and non-motor electrics were the only culprits. Even better, all repairs were made the same day, and at zero cost to owners.

Read our full used Nissan Leaf (2011-2018) review >>

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