Rivian R1T Beats Tesla For Most Satisfying Premium EV In New Study

Electric Vehicles / Comments

In its first year of eligibility, the R1T pickup put in a strong performance.

The results of the J.D. Power 2023 US Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Ownership Study have been released, and Rivian and Mini will be pleased with their models topping the premium and mass market segments, respectively. This is the first year that the Rivian R1T electric pickup truck has been eligible to partake in the study, and it topped the premium category with 794 points on a 1,000-point scale. R1T owners are clearly happy with their vehicle - when they eventually take delivery. The Rivian beat the Tesla Model 3 (759 points), Tesla Model Y (754), Audi e-tron (735) and Polestar 2 (724).

In the mass market segment, the Mini Cooper Electric - a fun EV let down by its poor 114-mile range - came out on top with 782 points. It was followed by the Kia EV6 (762), Ford Mustang Mach-E (742), and Hyundai Ioniq 5 (738).

This latest study involved 7,073 EV owners and was conducted between August and December last year. It focuses on the first year of vehicle ownership.

2022-2023 Rivian R1T Truck Driving Front Angle Rivian
2022-2023 Rivian R1T Truck Rear-Facing View Rivian
J.D Power

While the Mini was particularly praised for the highest-weighted index factor, quality and reliability, the Rivian was commended for driving enjoyment and interior/exterior styling.

Overall scores are based on factors like driving enjoyment, styling, battery range, service experience, and quality/reliability. J.D. Power says that with an increase in the number of EVs for sale, owners are prioritizing traditional areas like quality and styling more than they have previously.

"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," said Brent Gruber, executive director of the EV practice at J.D. Power. "Today's EV owners are looking for quality, reliability, driving enjoyment, safety and technology features."

2022-2023 Mini Cooper Hardtop Electric Driving Front Angle Mini
2022-2023 Mini Cooper Hardtop Electric Side Perspective Driving Mini
J.D. Power

In the premium segment, a mere five models were eligible for this year's study, only one more than last year. This differs from the mass market segment, where a total of ten models are now eligible, almost double from six last year.

Several other key findings emerged when J.D. Power assessed the results. Owners of mass market EVs once again said that infotainment was the most problematic category, with 19.2 problems per 100 vehicles. The Volkswagen ID.4, an electric crossover that has been beset by infotainment and software issues, still managed an overall score of 735, above the mass market average of 730.

Premium EV owners were most unhappy with squeaks and rattles (17.5 problems per 100 cars), an issue that is obviously exacerbated by the silent operation of electric motors.

2020-2023 Tesla Model Y Lateral View Tesla

One notable gap between mass market and premium EV owner satisfaction relates to the availability of public charging, with premium buyers scoring their satisfaction here at 589, far higher than mass market EV owners at 341, although both numbers are low. The Tesla Supercharger network heavily influences this category, but we could see more parity in this category in future surveys as Tesla opens up its charging network to owners of non-Tesla EVs.

New to the survey this year were questions relating to towing for owners of electric trucks, but this only applies to the Rivian R1T and Ford F-150 Lightning, the only electric pickups in the survey. It was found that satisfaction was higher for EV truck owners who used their vehicle for towing than those who didn't, and the same pattern repeats itself when it comes to driving range and the accuracy of the stated range.

2022-2023 Ford F-150 Lightning Rear View CarBuzz

J.D. Power pointed out that EV truck manufacturers who communicate the effect of towing on driving range early can have a very positive effect on customer expectations.

For first-time EV owners, driving performance is the main reason for the purchasing decision, and the rate of first-time EV ownership increased by 11% from 2022. The only EV to score below 700 points in overall satisfaction was the Nissan Leaf, but we'll give this vehicle a pass since it is a much older design than other vehicles on the list, despite regular updates.

Overall, the results demonstrate that the market is attracting more and more first-time EV buyers and that EV owners are not only looking at range/charging but traditional factors that typically influence the ownership experience.

2018-2023 Nissan Leaf Front View Driving Nissan

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2018-2023 Nissan Leaf Front View Driving
2022-2023 Rivian R1T Truck Driving Front Angle
2022-2023 Rivian R1T Truck Rear-Facing View
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2022-2023 Mini Cooper Hardtop Electric Side Perspective Driving

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