Press release

Time for green L plates? LV= calls for overhaul of UK driving test

  • Over three quarters (77%) of drivers think the UK driving test should be adapted for electric cars, rising to 92% of electric car drivers
  • One in three (29%) drivers are considering buying an electric car in the next five years
  • LV= General Insurance and IAM RoadSmart call on the DVSA to overhaul the UK driving test within the next three years so it fits the requirements of an electric car 

New research1 from LV= General Insurance (LV=GI), the first insurer to launch an insurance product in the UK specifically designed for electric cars, has found that three quarters (77%) of drivers think the UK driving test should be adapted for electric cars.

Recently the Government announced plans to bring the ban on selling petrol, diesel and hybrid cars forward from 2040 to 20352. However, many more electric cars will be hitting the roads much sooner as LV=GI data shows one in three (29%) drivers are considering buying an electric car in the next five years, with over three quarters (78%) looking at it as their next car purchase.

Despite the growing interest in going green, the vast majority (87%) of drivers still haven’t been behind the wheel of an electric car and are therefore unaware of the differences between driving and owning one. As more people consider making the switch, LV=GI is calling for the UK driving test – theory and practical – to be adapted so prospective drivers are prepared and feel comfortable driving an electric car as soon as they hit the road. 

Overhauling the UK driving test

There are currently 195,000 electric cars in the UK3 and many (84%) of those driving these vehicles have taken measures to learn more about them so they feel well equipped and safe to drive one given the key differences from ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles. These include asking the car dealer to take them out for a drive to explain the key differences (47%) or taking an advanced driving refresher course in their electric car (41%).

The top five differences electric car drivers notice when changing from an ICE to an electric car:
  1. Getting used to the driving range (49%)
  2. Noise difference (46%)
  3. Getting used to a fully automated vehicle (41%)
  4. Difference in acceleration (41%)
  5. Difference in breaking speed (28%)

Over three quarters (78%) of the UK public think the driving test should be adapted so it’s more in line with the requirements of an electric car, and 92% of those who drive an electric car think the test should be tailored, showcasing a clear need for the UK driving test to be adapted for electric cars.
As demand for electric cars continues to rise, LV=GI calls for these changes to be made in the next three years, mirroring the consensus of almost a third (32%) of the UK public who think these changes should be made. 

Tom Clarke, Head of Electric Vehicle Strategy at LV=GI comments: “As the UK moves towards becoming net-zero, UK drivers need to have a greater understanding of electric cars in order to have the confidence to make the switch. The fact that nearly two-thirds (72%) of electric car drivers say taking their driving test in an electric car would have been a benefit to them highlights the reality that the driving test in its current form is no longer relevant for the new wave of ‘green’ drivers.”

More education is needed

Despite the growing demand for electric cars and the appetite for a driving test change, many of the general public still believe common misperceptions, showcasing a knowledge gap that could be filled through an adapted driving test.

New tiered charging structure

  Common misconceptions   True  False 
You can’t hear an electric car approaching on the road 48% 17% 
It takes over 8 hours to charge an electric car 24% 23% 
Electric cars typically accelerate faster than an ICE car 20% 23% 
To check the battery of an electric car you need to look under the bonnet 14% 25%
The charger for your electric car uses the same plug as any other household device 14% 41% 

 

The research found that one in five (19%) drivers would never consider buying an electric car. The main reasons being the driving range is too short for their needs (32%), they are nervous about moving from a manual to an automatic car (8%) and they believe electric cars aren’t as safe as ICE (5%). A further one in 10 (9%) drivers are not considering a move to electric because they’re nervous about driving a car which doesn’t make a noise. 

Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at IAM RoadSmart, added: “Maximising the potential for electric cars means that the driving test needs to be modernised as soon as possible. New drivers need to be able to access the skills required to use these new vehicles as safely and efficiently as possible. Availability of electric car learner driving courses are very limited and financial support may be needed to spark interest in supplying them. In our view it is vital that the government doesn’t forget the role of training in helping to get drivers to adopt new technology.”

Tom Clarke concludes: “It’s clear that more education is needed to encourage drivers to make the switch to electric. The nervousness around these vehicles can be tackled by ensuring prospective drivers are fully equipped to drive an electric car, and current drivers are fully educated on the differences between electric cars and ICE. We understand that a driving test overhaul is a big change that cannot happen overnight but making small alterations to the theory test, or ensuring that certain ‘show me, tell me’ questions are adapted for electric car drivers will be a huge step towards encouraging future take-up.”

Notes to editors:

1 LV= GI and Opinium EV driving test research, 2,005 UK, with an additional boost of 152 EV drivers (31st Jan – 10th Feb 2020)
2 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-51366123
3 SMMT UK Motorparc database (13th April 2019) https://www.smmt.co.uk/2019/04/record-number-of-plug-in-cars-on-uk-roads-as-ownership-surges-by-a-quarter/

For more information please contact:

Lloyd Purnell
Senior Press Officer (General Insurance)
020 7634 4433
07500 835885

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