The electric vehicle industry is missing out on a large slice of the driving population: women. Although the automotive industry has long been a male dominated industry, the arrival of the EV removed much of the engine specifics that women couldn’t really care less about. Yet still they were marketed to men. What’s up with that?!
The sports car start to electric vehicles has been a strong draw card for many male drivers; excited by the fast 0-100km/h stats and abundant tech. Whereas women tend to approach buying a new car with more practicality. Generally they take into account space and fuel efficiency rather than the performance and design men go for. However, is it simply the marketing of vehicles that is making them drift into these now stereotypical car choices? We can see that sports cars are being marketed male-centricly and SUVs and other compact vehicles being marketed female-centric. Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman said that 95 percent of our purchase decision making takes place in the subconscious mind. So it begs the question: do women really want these practical options or is it simply the marketing targeted to them subconsciously influencing their decisions?
Despite this women are loving EV’s and leaving many husbands car-less as they steal their electric wheels. Although the marketing is not necessarily getting women into EVs, the driving experience certainly has them converted. The feeling of doing a good thing by the environment is also a positive connotation for women with EV’s. A study on the effects of gender on climate change found that women express a greater concern for climate change than men. Yet the Tesla Model 3 and Audi E-Tron website pages not once mention the environmental benefits of making the switch to electric. The focus is purely on performance. Thus there is opportunity in the marketing of these models to appeal more to women through the ideas that they are receptive to.
When it comes to charging an EV, for women this is more preferable to do at home. As many women are driving the SUV for school runs, waiting at a public charging station without anything to keep children entertained for 30 minutes is a last resort approach. Moreover, the placement of many public chargers around the country is poor when it comes to safety. Often out of sight of other people, poor lighting and lack of security. Charging at night especially can be a scary time for many women to spend as a sitting duck waiting for a charge. The statistics show that their anxiety is warranted. 24% of women have experienced at least one or more incidents of sexual assault, in comparison to 6% of men. 30% more women than men experience serious assault with no injury. 30% more women than men also experience serious assault with injury. Perhaps it is time that we also ensure that the safety of public EV chargers is more than just about their electricity elements but the safety of users. Placement, lighting and security cameras need to be added to the planning too. Surely it is in the interest of businesses to make the use of their public charger appealing if they are wanting to gain income from it?
There has been good progress around the world when it comes to getting female involvement in this male dominated industry. A great initiative is the Top Women in EV campaign by the EV Summit. Managing director of EV Summit, Rashida Noray explains, “Automotive has historically been a male-dominated industry and we're making sure that we put a spotlight on the women in the industry who are making strides towards our sustainable future. Our aim with this campaign is not only to give our nominees the accolades they rightly deserve but to inspire the next generation of 'Electric Women'. Furthermore, a new EV racing series, Extreme E, is changing up the traditional barriers that have existed previously with racing by ensuring each team in the series consists of one woman and one man. These are all great initiatives that show off female talent in the industry.
Overall, in order to achieve a strong uptake of EV’s I believe that the industry needs to be looked at as a means to fight climate change, rather than just another segment of the automotive industry. This fight for climate change involves everyone, not just the men, so it's time to take women into account. Acknowledging the difference in how women think can be a great strength to ensure the success of businesses in the automotive industry.