The nation's second car

7 minutes

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This research is based on a survey of 1,003 multi-car owners based in the UK, conducted by Opinium and commissioned by LV=

With the number of 2-car households increasing year-on-year , there’s a clear demand for more flexibility when it comes to the UK’s transport options. But with research showing that 1.5 million drivers could switch to an electric car without any compromise  – is the face of the second car changing?

Family is at the heart of the second car

Of all the reasons cited for adding another car to their household, having a growing family came out top (25%). This was the leading answer by some distance, followed by wanting a car just for short journeys (15%) and environmental concerns (9%).

Perhaps surprisingly, even well-publicised climate change concerns  aren’t enough to encourage more than 1 in 10 drivers to consider the environment when picking a second car. This was in stark contrast to those choosing an electric vehicle (EV), with more than a third (36%) of those who picked an electric car citing the environment as their primary reason for doing so.

A breakdown of the UK’s second car

The charge towards electric

Although EV owners are still in the minority – with 83% of those surveyed owning petrol or diesel cars – attitudes are changing. Of those buying an additional car, nearly 1 in 4 (23%) are ‘definitely’ considering going electric, and 14% of those wanting to replace their current second car said the same.

The research showed there are many different reasons why people choose an EV as their additional vehicle, but environmental concerns came out top.
Of all the age groups, Gen Z and Millennials (18 to 34-year-olds) were the most likely to have an EV, and ownership across all demographics was highest in London. 

However, the primary use for an electric car varied among respondents. Shopping was the most popular answer, with 40% of EV owners asked citing it as the main use of their electric car, closely followed by both commuting, and visiting friends or family (38%).

Obstacles to the EV revolution

Although there is a shift in attitudes among car owners, many UK drivers still have reservations when it comes to embracing the electric revolution. 
Infrastructure was highlighted as a key issue. More than half (59%) of respondents who weren’t considering going electric for their next car purchase said it was the shortage of nearby charging points that put them off.  

This is particularly interesting as a quarter of EV owners (24%) cited the number of charging points in their local area as one of the main drivers leading them to go electric. This suggests that, despite there being more than 25,000 chargers  in the UK, coverage can still be inconsistent. 


What does this look like across the UK?

There’s a massive gap between the areas of the UK that are embracing the EV revolution (52%) and those struggling to adopt the new technology (6%), with availability of chargers seemingly a contributing factor.

Electric car myths

Despite there being legitimate concerns over the current network of electric charging points, as highlighted in the research, there also appeared to be some misconceptions about electric cars and their capabilities.

Nearly half of all respondents (48%) said the purchase cost of electric cars was too high. However, research has shown that electric cars are cheaper to own than petrol or diesel cars in the long term. The lower running costs have a massive impact on this, showing that electric cars can be a cost-effective option for drivers that can often negate the higher purchase price.  

The cost of electric cars has also dropped significantly over the past 3 years, spurred by a 50% drop in the cost of their batteries. 

A similar number of respondents believed they can’t be used for long journeys (45%) and said they would get range anxiety around potentially running out of charge (41%), while 12% were concerned about high running costs. Around 1 in 10 (8%) respondents who were put off electric cars said it was because they believed they were too slow for motorways.  

Some 16% of those surveyed said they simply didn’t understand enough about electric cars to make a decision. However, there are resources are out there to help you calculate the costs of charging an EV at home or at public charging points, allowing you to see whether the switch to electric could be for you.

Will we embrace the green car?

The second car clearly has an important role in UK households and, with the electric car looking to become more accessible – both financially and logistically – for British drivers, there are signs of a shift in attitudes. 

There has already been a massive surge in the number of electric cars on the road, and experts expect this to just be the first step towards the UK turning green. By 2030, it’s predicted that there will be 125 million electric cars sold across the world, compared to just 3 million in 2017. And if policy changes further encourage drivers to go electric, this figure could rise to 220 million.

As myths around electric cars get debunked and the technology and infrastructure evolve, it’s thought that more people will decide it’s worth going electric – both for their bank balance and the planet.


Research of 1,003 multi-car owners carried out between 2nd August to 9th August 2019.


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