Your take-home messages:
Overall, EV owners are extremely satisfied with their Low Emission vehicles. More than three quarters of 654 respondents gave their EV a score of 9 or 10 out of ten. Owners find them fit-for-purpose, a pleasure to drive, and to have very low running and maintenance costs. Their environmental benefits are particularly satisfying for many owners. Restricted range and occasional mechanical and technical faults niggled a few respondents, but the main reason for a minority of low scores over the past nine months was apparent premature battery capacity fade in one variant of one model of EV. Even that turned out to be an instrumentation error rather than a real problem with the battery, so we expect that satisfaction scores would be even higher in the coming months.
This on-going poll:
Each month since September 2017, Flip the Fleet has asked New Zealand EV owners to answer a simple question: “How satisfied are you with your EV?”. The owners were invited score their vehicle between 0 (being completely unsatisfied) and 10 (being the totally satisfied). Here we show you results of the 3,493 individual scores provided by 654 owners so far. Respondents were given the option to comment on the reason for this month’s score. Our long-term aim is to track changes in how satisfied members are with their vehicles overtime, and identify issues that seem to lead to lower levels of satisfaction.
Owner EV satisfaction scores
Over three quarters (76.8%) of the satisfaction scores were a 9 or 10 (Figure 1). Only 7.7% of the scores were below 7.
Figure 1: Percentage (%) of satisfaction scores provided by Flip the Fleet EV owners from September 2017 to July 2018.
Owner satisfaction with different EV models
Tesla S owners reported the highest average satisfaction level, with all scores provided being either a 9 or 10 (average score of 9.9 from 8 Tesla S owners, see Figure 2). Drivers of the Hyundai Ioniq, BMW i3, Mitsubishi Outlander and Nissan Leaf Gen 1.2 24kWh all scored their vehicles above a 9 on average. Even the oldest ‘entry-level’ EV model, the 1st generation 24kWh Nissan Leaf had an average satisfaction score of 8.9. Owners of a 30 kWh Nissan Leaf were the least satisfied, but even these averaged 8.4 out of 10.
Figure 2. EV satisfaction level according to vehicle model. The average satisfaction level by model type were calculated from 3502 satisfaction scores provided by 654 EV owners in New Zealand from September 2017 to July 2018.
What makes you click?
Along with reporting owner satisfaction levels, we wanted to uncover the key parts of ownership – be it the drive experience, the financial savings, the green credentials, or something else – that decides how much joy you receive from your EV. We were also interested to learn about any EV qualms you’ve had to date, and how far these have shifted you from a satisfied state.
You sure love your EVs! Low running and maintenance costs were the most satisfying part of owning an EV (mentioned in 21% of all comments, Figure 3), followed closely by the impressive driving experience (16%). An equal amount expressed general pleasure in the form of “I love my EV!” (16%). Green credentials (9%) and a match to needs and expectations (9%) produced content to a lesser degree, while a quiet, comfortable ride was also said to satisfy (6%). Amongst the other (20%) responses were assurances that everything was “all good” (16x responses), that owners were smiley, happy beings (15x smiley-face responses), and a reiteration of previous reasons (70x gave “same as before” responses). A handful of Other comments indicated EV ownership of just 1-4 months – too short a time frame for detailed comment.
Figure 3: EV attributes (expressed as percentage of 2409 comments provided) communicated by 654 Flip the Fleet members.
Quicker than expected battery degradation and limited range were the stand out challenges affecting EV ownership (mentioned in 15% and 10% of all comments respectively, Figure 4). Mechanical or technical faults (3%), cooler weather (2%), and insufficient public charger availability (1%) also lowered owner satisfaction level. Other challenges included fast depreciation rates, inability to tow and drive through deep water, the desire to drive a “normal looking car”, and the need to plan.
Figure 4: EV challenges (expressed as percentage of 2409 comments provided) communicated by 654 Flip the Fleet members.
Apparent battery degradation featured in 25% of 200 comments by 30kWh (Fig. 5). This undoubtedly reflects the way State of Health and battery capacity bars were apparently dropping fast over much of the period encompassed by these surveys (https://flipthefleet.org/2018/30-kwh-leafs-soh-loss/). The threat was eventually traced to instrumentation error and a firmware patch was made available by Nissan (https://flipthefleet.org/2018/30-kwh-nissan-leaf-firmware-update-to-correct-capacity-reporting/). Comments on social media networks make it obvious that most 30 kWh Leaf owners are relieved and have somewhat restored faith in their vehicle’s battery, so we expect that the satisfaction scores and worry about battery capacity fade will decline in the coming months. There were marginally higher levels of concern about battery health among owners of the oldest Nissan leaf Batteries (Gen 1.1, manufactured between 2010 and 2012) than among owners of Gen 1.2 (2013-2016) 24 kWh Leafs. Battery concerns are lowest among eNV200 and all other EV models combined (Fig. 5).
Discussion and conclusions
The EV Glee Club
Despite some concerns about range limitation and battery degradation, most owners remain highly satisfied with their EVs. Even with a decreased maximum range, the EV is still “fit for purpose” in many cases, leading to an unwaveringly high satisfaction level: “Does exactly as we expected. Could do with longer range, but we knew what we were getting when we purchased and is perfect for our commute” (satisfaction level of 10).
1-Click survey #20 that asked FtF members about changes in mobility patterns since purchasing an EV (https://flipthefleet.org/2018/1-click-survey-20/). There were subtle changes in mobility of some households, but not for two-thirds of owners. This is consistent with the overall conclusion of the satisfaction scores – the EVs overwhelmingly do what their owners expected them to do and have been seamlessly integrated into their families or small businesses transport needs. Despite a few niggles and inconsistencies, the overall joy of the drive, the resonance with “low-carbon lifestyles”, a tangible sustainability “conversation starter”, and the unique ability to “power the house in a power cut, to keep the fridges going” all make for a well satisfied EV Glee club!
Battery woes: a bump along the road
The apparent premature degradation of 30 kWh Leaf battery health gave many owners a real scare e.g. “This month we dropped to 10 bars and GOM now gives us only 149km on 100% charge. This will be unacceptable when we go on holiday” (satisfaction level of 5); “we love the car, great drive, but the reduction in range we’ve experienced since buying it has been very disappointing. We live rurally and needed the 30kwh range to make it work, so from a range (degradation) perspective not happy” (satisfaction level of 3).
Others were less concerned because they noted discrepancies between BMS, LeafSpy, power supply voltage and vehicle efficiency meters seem to be adding to the battery bamboozlement, with one owner “noticing a discrepancy between power supplied to vehicle and vehicle efficiency meter. Out by 20%” (satisfaction rating of 10), and another noting: “I bought a LeafSpy when the battery dropped a bar, and found that it is not entirely accurate and could underestimate battery charge by as much as 20%. I still love to drive my EV” (scored a 10/10); “The battery is falling…but as it is a town runabout it has battery enough” (satisfaction level of 9)
The firmware/head unit updates have obviously restored a lot of confidence in the last few months: “Back to perfect – just got 30kWh firmware upgrade & performance figures are back to where they were at time of purchase 8 months ago. Yeeha!” (satisfaction level of 10); “SOH seems to be creeping up slightly again (80.48%). I have decided to be less obsessed with SOH and just drive my Leaf. I do love it, especially with current petrol prices in Auckland” (satisfaction level of 9) “Improved as have had BMS update that has improved battery results” (satisfaction level up to an 8).
We still need more chargers
Inadequate number, type and viability of public chargers frustrates some owners i.e. scores ranged from 9 to 6 for those who commented on charging difficulties: “need more fast chargers…one in each town?” (satisfactions score of 6); “I found the current state of the public charging infrastructure inconvenient, and the extra time for charging to be tiring (when trying to cover 500ks in a day)” (satisfaction score of 7); “Have to travel somewhere without practical charging options; so I am renting an ICE. Not the fault of the car, but the infrastructure is still lacking in some ways” (satisfaction level of 8).
The need for a fast charger in Waikouaiti or Palmerston was mentioned several times, and a disconnect between the Dunedin/Christchurch and Central Otago charging networks has been making trips to places like Naseby incompatible with lower-range EVs.
A few mechanical, technical and design features were associated with dissatisfaction amongst a small fraction of owners:
- “No spare tyre with the Leaf”
- “No beeper for when car is nearing an item”
- “Japanese dash and AV unit”
- “I’d be happier if I could turn off the reverse alarm”
- “Not fast enough”
- “Want cruise control”
- “Headlights no good on twisty country roads”
- “Need stickier tyres”
- “Would like a battery that is cooled”
Your comments in detail
Here’s a subset of the 2409 comments you’ve shared with us since September 2017:
J’adore my EV!
“Have never been so in love with a car!” • “ 🙂 “ x17 similar responses • “ <3 “• “I am an EVeryday woman” • “Low running cost & Zero emission. Reliable. Awesome to drive. Zero guilt. EVs just Rock! full stop. Mic drop :)” • “A piece of magic parachuted in from the future” • “Very satisfied given it is only a 24kWh car” • “3rd road trip coming up!“ • “A joy to drive!” x2 similar responses” • “A wonderful car in every way” x1 similar response • “All good” x9 similar responses” • “all round pleasure to drive” x1 similar response • “All perfect” • “As happy as ever” • “Awesome car” x10 similar response • “best car ever” x6 similar responses • “Best value PHEV” • “BEV’s ace” • “I (still) love it! x89 similar responses” • “Great car” x22 similar responses • “Beautiful” • “
“Great to drive and meets my needs” • “Simple to use, like not having to go to petrol stations” • “Quiet” x68 similar responses • “Lots of other nice design that makes my Leaf perfect for my family” • “Best I can expect for distance on hilly roads” • “Absolute pleasure to drive” • “Absolutely hassle free driving experience” • “Awesome fun (to drive)” x 43 similar responses • “0-100 is still exciting” • “Performance” x6 similar responses • “Smooth ride” x 24 similar responses • “
My EV dream matches the reality
“All running smoothly as expected” • “Excellent for our lifestyle involving both town and rural travel” • “Fit for purpose + saving the planet + comfort” • “perfect for our usage” • “Have had the car for one month, meeting all expectations” • “I love not burning petrol, paying for petrol, love the quiet smooth drive. It feels amazing to finally be doing all the small trips we do, ferrying 3 boys to sports and activities, groceries, rainy day school drops etc! Love FlipTheFleet too!” • “It does exactly what I need – gets me to and from work. love it.” • “It provides for 95% of all our daily travel” • “Keeps doing everything I want it to and better than I expected”
I’d score my satisfaction higher if…
“Would be 10 but would be nice to have 12 bars and more range!” • “We are not 10 because we’d rather a slightly bigger, and greater kWh EV, but we chose not to spend more money to get one like that, so not 8, otherwise, WE LOVE IT!” • “Would be 10 but battery longevity erodes confidence” • “It would be 9 if the radio was in English” • “Would be 9 but my 30kWh battery appears to be degrading prematurely” • “
Low-cost, high efficiency
“Fuel price hikes, I laugh in your face!” • “Still fun. And petrol is going up!” • “$$$” • “0 cost” • “low cost to do trips away” • “cheap to run” x 137 similar responses • “price of gas keeps rising” • “1126km in 4 days, no worries” • “awesome on every level, especially energy efficiency with regenerative braking” • “super-efficient” • “economy” x 29 similar responses • “Minimal petrol use around town” • “very efficient on our frequent long trips out of town” • “No problem” x 25 similar responses” • “No worries” x 11 similar responses • “Charge with solar so next to no daily running costs”
EV to the rescue (sometimes)!
“Three weeks ago our chief instructor at TKD, Paul, suffered a heart attack in class at the club (at Warrington). I put him in the Leaf. Rachael, an ex-nurse got in the back. We took off. Paul stopped breathing twice as we drove in at 160km per hour” • “Wife needed to get to Hamilton urgently and neither of the EVs were able to get there. Selling the 30kwh EV and getting myself a ICE as well”
Technical updates seem promising
“Battery performance is improving since new!” • “Now I know there is a fix for the 30kWh SOH problem, I am happy again” • “Had the firmware update!!” • “Installed USA Headunit and SOH going up” • “
Clean, green, serene machines
“Zero emission, zero issues” • “Love my Leaf – quiet, speedy, no exhaust fumes” • “Just completed first year of ownership – $$, CO2, guilt, all radically lower!” • “Green feel, clean garage, no fumes” • “>30000 tonnes of greenhouse gas saved since buying this car” • “18000 emission free km” • “Low emissions” x 37 similar responses • ““Clean and green, at almost no cost” • “and saving the environment too!” • “Another 100 kms and no fuel or emissions” • “Environmentally friendly” x35 similar responses • “Smooth. Quiet. Like idling in traffic knowing I’m not using carbon”
At home charging is ace, but need public charge to fuel the change!
“202kWhr home charging” • “350kWh home charging” • “So much more convenient to charge at home instead of having to make time to go to the garage to fuel up” • “
“Still great car but discovering we needed T2 charger at Warehouse a surprise! We will now carry 3 cords on a trip-3 pt/ caravan /T2! They take up space!” • “Just done 1400 km round the East Cape using the free chargers for a lot of the way”
Winter wins and woes
“warm seats on cold days” • “now with heated seats and steering wheel its very comfortable in winter” • “Shorter range in winters stops me from using heater on my commute of 85 km” • “Winter starting to affect range, wipers, lights and heater” • “heater/air con drags almost 3kw just to see out the window!” • “Gen 1 heater uses too much power when I’m commuting 90km a day” • “Low external temperatures seem to affect distance and remaining km range jumps up & down”
Going batty over batteries
“Battery health going well” • “my vehicle does not appear to be impacted by battery degradation issues” • “Back to perfect – just got 30kWh firmware upgrade & performance figures are back to where they were at time of purchase 8 months ago. Yeeha!” • “Battery better again!!” • “Battery getting better!!!” • “Battery is only 23kWh now for 30kWh LEAF. Otherwise still fantastic drive” • “Battery is proving now I am charging 100%!” • “Battery degradation” x 91 similar responses” • “SOH dropped from 83 to 80.13 in 1 month (May)” • “finally lost 1st bar… hopefully 30kWh software patch brings it back to life…” • “love it, but battery is a worry” • “The SOH is still crashing and its starting to affect what I can do with the car. Paid a premium for a 30kWh and now its nearly down at new 24kWh levels of range. The rest of the car is ok. But the battery issues (like other 30kWh owners I’m sure) sucks”
Other/Same/too soon to comment
“2nd month of ownership” • “3rd month of ownership” • “4th month of ownership” • “All the usual reasons!” • “Appreciate last month” • “As before” x63 similar responses” • “Ditto” x19 similar responses” • “Same” x96 similar responses • “No change” x 24 similar responses • “Would be nice if there was an app to interface with it” • “because it feels so right” x1 similar response • “away for the entire month” • “Missed while we were on Holiday and using our ICE” •
Hannah Gentle, Monica Peters, Henrik Moller, Dima Ivanov and Daniel Myall
6 September 2018