EV disputes brought by consumers to TMO in Q1 2024

EV disputes brought by consumers to The Motor Ombudsman in Q1 2024 

The first quarter of 2024 saw 492 electric vehicle (EV) complaints brought by consumers to The Motor Ombudsman, the highest volume of EV-related disputes raised in a single three-month period. This reflects the growing UK electric car parc, and equates to an 80% increase in the volume of complaints versus the same quarter in 2023 (273). It also surpasses the previous highest tally for a single quarter recorded in Q4 last year (371).

However, to put this into perspective, the number of cases opened in Q1 about electric vehicles (EVs) represents less than 1% of disputes submitted by consumers to The Motor Ombudsman during the first three months of this year (9,183), and makes up fewer than 1% of the total number of electric vehicles on UK roads according to the latest 2023 EV car parc data (960,896)*. This highlights the fact that overall satisfaction continues to be high amongst electric vehicle buyers and owners.

When looking at the main issues encountered by consumers with an EV during the first quarter of 2024, they are as follows:

1. Customer service and purchase issues (30%)

Mirroring the trend seen in previous quarters, customer service and purchase issues made up nearly a third of the electric vehicle complaints brought by consumers to The Motor Ombudsman in the first three months of 2024.

Examples of concerns stated by motorists at the point of sale, included orders being cancelled by retailers with no deposit refunds, agreed part exchange values differing to confirmed order form valuations, and businesses not honouring promotional offers. From a maintenance perspective, problems encountered were due to replacement parts being unavailable for repairs, and workshops failing to diagnose faults within a vehicle’s active manufacturer warranty period.

For complaints about vehicle purchases, an average of 52% were in conjunction with a used car every month during the first quarter – a figure which rose to as high as 59% in February. This slightly greater percentage of disputes to do with second hand models highlights used EVs becoming more attractive as prices drop, and the lower demand for new EVs in the consumer / retail sector, as motorists are often faced with higher prices than petrol and diesel equivalent models, and an absence of government incentives to place an order.

2. Chassis and motor issues (16%)

Nearly a fifth of disputes logged with The Motor Ombudsman during Q1 were in conjunction with the chassis and motor area of an EV (16%). This is very similar to the figure seen during the last quarter of 2023 (17%). From a braking perspective, emergency systems activating without notice, and brake failures whilst cars were in motion drove complaints. Motors incurred issues, such as broken bearings, and seal failures allowing damage from coolant ingress.

In relation to tyres and wheels, issues stemmed from wheels missing air sensors, tyre blow-outs on new cars, and premature tyre wear, whilst snapping coil springs affected consumers in the suspension area of the vehicle.

3. Electrical and software issues (13%)

The electrical infrastructure of an EV, and software driving operating systems, were the third biggest area of discontent in Q1, at 13% of complaints, down encouragingly from the figure of 16% in the final quarter of 2023. Issues centred around software updates being performed without a vehicle owner’s knowledge, and corrupting interfaces when applied. Similarly, digital systems were turned off without notice. Other problems also encountered, involved collision control systems activating incorrectly when no other vehicles or hazards were nearby.

4. Battery issues (11%)

Battery-related faults became slightly more prominent during Q1 (11%), compared to the final quarter of 2023 (6%). Coolant problems were a key factor for complaints, as they impacted the battery and caused vehicles to decelerate, whilst associated pipes and pumps also suffered problems. In addition, consumers reported batteries overheating at higher speeds on motorway journeys, whilst batteries failed following software updates.

5. Charging issues (8%)

Complaints in relation to an EV’s on-board charging system were amongst the lesser-reported issues by consumers during the first three months of this year. Disputes originated from discontent about charging times being slower than that which was advertised at the point of sale, faulty Type 2 charging ports, in addition to port locks and on-board charging units failing, leaving owners unable to use their cars.

6. Exterior issues (8%)

Accounting for the same proportion of complaints as charging, albeit only very slightly less in volume, problems with the bodywork of a vehicle or external fixtures also drove 8% of disputes in Q1. Examples of causes of customer dissatisfaction came from factors, such as sub-standard paint repairs to damaged paintwork, windscreen chips on used vehicles at the point of handover, and paint colours being discontinued, thereby preventing touch-up repairs when blemishes occurred.

The repeated failure of outer door handles, and doors and wing mirrors remaining closed in sub-zero temperatures, as well as rattling and faulty boot locks, equally led consumers to log a complaint about their EV during the past three months.

7. Interior and cabin systems issues (8%)

Interior and cabin systems saw a positive three percentage point drop in the first quarter compared to Q4 2023 (11%). Problems encountered by EV owners with internal fixtures and systems, included severe wind and road noise in the cabin, heating systems blowing out cold air, internal condensation build-up on windows during periods of persistent rain or high humidity, and rattles emanating from the dashboard.

8. Range issues (6%)

Range concerns, which principally result from consumers not achieving the advertised distance for a full charge, drove the fewest number of disputes during the first quarter of 2024. Relatively mild weather, coupled with greater consumer awareness regarding factors that can affect the maximum potential range figures quoted by vehicle manufacturers, are likely to have contributed to range complaints remaining low during the first three months of 2024.

Average consumer claim value

For consumers who stated a monetary value to resolve their dispute, the average stood at £12,451 for the past three months, down 4% from the figure of £12,995 seen during Q1 2023.


To view and download the infographic below as a PDF, please click here.


To view and download The Motor Ombudsman’s thought leadership paper on electric vehicle disputes as a PDF, please click here.

*Source: The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).