UK Automobile Association: Millions Of Second Cars Could Be Electric


Plug-In Cars Available In UK

Plug-In Cars Available In UK

In late June, during the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership conference in the UK, Edmund King, the UK Automobile Association president, presented his thoughts on why he believes millions of second cars in households could be electric.

According to King,

  • 74% of AA members park their cars overnight off the road and on their own land (58% on the driveway, 16% in the garage) where, potentially, they could be charged overnight.
  • 50% of 18,688 respondents in AA Populus survey in April have access to two or more cars, 12% of them drive the ‘second’ car.
  • Second cars are more likely to have access to charging, 79% v 74% overall.
  • Second cars are less likely to be used for long journeys: never drive between 100 and 200 miles a trip – 25% v 15% overall, never drive 200+ miles a trip – 38% v 25% overall.

The UK Automobile Association says that 2.5 million second cars could be electric and rely solely on home charging.

King says that second cars differ from first cars in the following ways:

  • Slightly lower range expectation from an electric vehicle – 105 miles per charge v 109 overall.
  • Slightly lower expectations of reliability and safety.
  • Slightly less concerned about charging time.
  • Less likely to be concerned by the cost of battery replacement.
  • Less likely to be concerned by possibility of increased taxation.

So, your first car might still be ICE, but it’s quite likely that a second car being electric would fit your needs.

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14 Comments on "UK Automobile Association: Millions Of Second Cars Could Be Electric"

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I’ve been pounding on this point for years, but in relation to the US, not the UK.

The potential EV market in the US with ZERO expansion of the recharging network is many times larger than the current sales rate would suggest. And, as I’ve pointed out countless times, the primary hurdle to much greater EV sales in the US is market education and psychology. People don’t think in terms of using different technologies for different vehicles in their household, and they “know” that EVs aren’t “real cars”, so they don’t even consider them. I’ve shocked many people in the last two years by telling them what my Leaf is really like and how well it works as our everyday/local car.

Eventually people will figure it out, but it’s taking a ridiculously long time. That’s partly due to human nature, and partly due to the car companies doing a spectacularly bad job of promoting EV tech and the cars.

Yep. In a 2 car family, you really only need 1 car for the long trips. The other car can easily be a short-range EV for commuting, groceries, etc.

I find it funny that the “second” car by definition is the one that is used most. The “first” car is the one that goes on occasional trips.

The US has a very different culture when it comes to driving than the UK. Even with the decline in VMT over the last decade, people still drive far more in the US than the UK, and driving long distances something almost everyone does once in a while.

Furthermore, the second car is almost always a former first car. When people buy a new car, they want to take it for long drives, road trips, etc. It’s part of the desire behind buying a new car (which objectively is rather insane, given the cost difference).

Absolutely! The current short range EVs that are dirt cheap to drive are perfect for the second car! Unfortunately I think the purchase price turns people off. A short range car is OK if it’s cheap but people don’t want to pay more for a car that does less. Sure, this is offset by the much cheaper “fuel” but it’s hard to communicate the long time savings effectively.

Perhaps the solution is to offer a payment plan where you pay a large part upfront and then have a couple of years with very low monthly payments, comparable to what you would spend on fuel if you had a gas car.

“I think the purchase price turns people off.”

This has been true, but fortunately more and more used EVs are becoming available as leases end. These will be much cheaper, and last a long time.

The no maintenance and cheap running costs make EVs ideal not only for second cars, but also third cars, such as a teenager’s first car, etc

The EV turns out to be the primary car in some cases. Is it your ‘secondary’ car if you drive it every day and drive the ‘primary’ car only on weekends and vacations?

EREV (like ELR/Volt) can be both primary and secondary if your lifestyle allows.

Yes, it is still a second car even if its your primary car. That is, unless you would choose it as your only car.

its why 25KWH cars will still have a place even moving forward to 50KWH cars. To enable very low cost, $15k range EVs. EVs need to show price parity now with burners, as well as the higher cost longer range EVs.


or for business use. I wonder how many US postal routes can be done with a 25kWh vehicle …

Exactly. There will always be a spot in my driveway for a ~25kWh BEV. I would rather have an inexpensive BEV paired with a pricy but long-range BEV than to pay the premium for both to be long-range.

Hey Lou Grinzo most people do not understand the savings on fuel cost and maintenance with ICE vehicle compared to EV or a Volt. I own a Volt and am paying around 20 dollars a month in fuel. I was spending 50 to 75 dollars a week back in 2009. That money I was spending on an f150 could almost buy that truck again in 5 yrs. Fuel and maintenance add up with these gas guzzlers.
The other thing I do not understand is all the work being done on older cars to restore them or make them a better gas guzzler. There are EVs made for race that outperforms these gas guzzlers. There is an EV out there winning the race against vipers, corvettes, Camaros, mustangs, bmws and other gas guzzlers.

Your logic is a bit of a stretch. On the one hand, you claim that people do not understand the savings in fuel. On the other, you compare a Volt to an F150. I think most people would look at those vehicles side-by-side and say that the F150 works for them but the Volt doesn’t. It cannot haul. It cannot even tow. It has a small trunk (it’s a compact car after all). The two are apples and oranges.

If you really want to compare fuel savings, you have to compare it to the same class of car. Most compact cars these days get 30-40MPG. People just won’t realize the same fuel savings there as they would against a gas-guzzler pickup truck.

Don’t know how many air haulers are out there, Brian? In certain areas, you buy something like an F-150 _because_. Because a dozen kinda, sorta, coulda woulda rationalizations. Meanwhile, it’s a single-occupancy commuter 99% of trips.