The changing face of car ownership

5 minutes

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No one could predict the impact the first automobile would have on the world. However, over the decades, attitudes towards owning a car have changed drastically.

  • 83% of UK homeowners own at least 2 cars, compared to the 1980s when only 15% of households owned any car 
  • CO2 emissions are affecting the planet, forcing people to reconsider their car ownership
  • Electric car ownership is steadily increasing, with a 22% increase in the use of alternative fuel cars recorded in 2018
Once upon a time, cars were seen as a flashy, fashion statement. Having a car was a way for affluent people to flaunt their wealth. Then Henry Ford came along and changed car production forever.

From then, popularity and demand only continued to grow, with most people owning at least 1 car by the 1970s. Nowadays, cars have become a necessity. LV=’s research found that 83% of families own at least 2 cars. 

Though the steady increase in access to cars has liberated many Brits, it’s slowly destroying the planet. Now people are increasingly looking for ways to enjoy the independence of owning a car without damaging the earth. 

Journey through time with LV= and discover how attitudes towards car ownership have changed, and what the future could hold. 

Discover how attitudes towards car ownership have changed

The miracle of motoring 

Henry Ford changed the world in 1913 when he revolutionised how cars were made. For the first time, everyday people could have their own taste of luxury. 

Before then, cars were mostly run by steam or electric and few could afford them. Battery-charging limitations meant these plans stalled and manufacturers shifted their focus to gasoline-powered cars.

The UK was late to catch on

While Ford’s assembly line made car production cheaper and easier to run, in the UK it took a while for attitudes to change. Buses and coaches continued to rule the roads until well after the 1950s. 

But, as car manufacturing grew, and less money was invested in public transport, more people began buying their own cars. By the 1970s, 75% of road users in the UK travelled in privately owned vehicles.

Petrol-fuelled economy

Having multiple cars in a single household is a fairly modern phenomenon. Even in the 1980s, only 15% of UK households owned more than 1 car. Nowadays, it’s a very different story with 8 out of 10 UK drivers having at least 2 cars, according to our research.  

Far from showing wealth and status, 50% of respondents got their first car to get more reliable travel. The main influence behind buying a second car was having a growing family.   

While finance plans have made car ownership more accessible, our research showed 59% of respondents still purchase their second car through savings. This suggests many Brits still get a sense of pride from owning – rather than leasing – a car.

The present reaches boiling point

Major cities are starting to see the opposite effect, as more people choose to commute on public transport. Central London alone has seen a 30% decrease in traffic over the last decade , with this number set to drop further in the coming years. 

Additionally, the number of young drivers has fallen 40% since the 1990s, as more young people move to cities and use other means to commute. As we become more connected online, there’s also less demand for young people to find independence with a car, compared to the 90s. 

The future is electric 

With climate change reaching crisis levels, and the government pledging to ban all new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, the UK is having to consider greener ways of getting around.

In 2019, the Department of Transport annual statistics showed a 18% decrease in the number of registered diesel cars compared to 2018. The number of battery electric cars registered for the first time in 2019 more than doubled (+141%) compared to 2018. 

The future is electric

What does this mean for car ownership over the next decade? 

Electric cars have come a long way since the early 20th century, with many now able to drive more than 200 miles on a single charge. 

Manufacturers are already investing more time and money into developing electric and hybrid cars, with new and exciting developments from the likes of Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla in the pipeline. 

Additionally, our study showed 50% of us are now open to the idea of going electric for our next purchase, with being environmentally friendly coming out as one of the main reasons why. And while there’s still some work to be done on infrastructure and general EV range, one thing is clear – the future of transportation is truly electric.

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