In August 2020, The Global Action Plan cited polling results suggesting that the UK public wants to see government encourage car manufacturers to produce more Electric Vehicles (EVs). It would stand to reason that given the focus on their children, parents would be eager to invest in a form of transport that ensures the safety of future generations.

But how do parents feel about the prospect of switching to EVs and abandoning their trusty family SUVs?

Siegel+Gale conducted a survey across 158 respondents to explore the appeal of EVs amongst different demographic audiences—specifically those with and without children.

The dichotomy facing parents—and the confusion this brings to equipment manufacturers—is evident when we compare SUVs to EVs. Both vehicles have strong connotations to parenthood, but for very different reasons. In our research, parents were seven times more likely to have bought an EV than non-parents, but the majority of parents considering an EV had not taken any action to buy one.

When considering SUVs vs. EVs and exploring what was preventing respondents from buying an EV, survey results indicated that those with children were twice as likely to say they didn’t have time to learn about EVs’ benefits. Parents put greater importance on the immediate mobility needs of themselves and their families.

Those who had kids also feel it is more prudent to acquire a car that they know is affordable and can be refueled at regular service stops. A vehicle that allows them to drop their kids off at after-school clubs, carry groceries, pick up loved ones from the airport and still have enough fuel left in it to do it all again! They understand how far their carbon engine can get them before they need to fill up the tank, and how much it will cost them to do so.

Conversely, 18% of those without kids were significantly more likely to have no interest in buying a car when compared to the 3% of those who had children. They were more likely to use public transport as they typically have more free time to spend on commuting while they save up for when/if they decide to have families. Their lack of interest in cars could also extend to investing more time in healthier forms of mobility, such as walking or cycling.

When asking what the term “mobility” meant to all respondents, there was a strong connection to themes of freedom and moving without restrictions. Although each group places different levels of weight on how freedom relates to them and their families, each sees movement as a personal feature. As a result of the overwhelming sense of freedom that cars bring, messaging focused solely on environmentalism and innovation does not engage parents. They do not have time to learn the benefits of owning an EV; they have more pressing matters to attend to, such as transporting their families and keeping costs down. As a result, they are more likely to engage with automotive brands that provide immediate flexibility and opportunity.

Toyota combines practical information and more purposeful EV messaging in a way that is likely to appeal to parents. Focused on technology and versatility, The Toyota Prius has historically centered on messaging that explains how their electric cars provide unrestricted movement, regardless of environmental conditions.

For both those with and without children, freedom and versatility are highly personal considerations when choosing a preferred mode of transport. As Toyota has discovered, the “it works” angle is a simple one. It incorporates an informative yet empathetic story on the benefits EVs have for audiences and their families while advocating the freedom they can expect from these cars. Explaining EVs’ functional benefits and how they compare to the trusted SUV will give people a more informed lens.


James Moretti is an Insights Analyst on our London team.