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Understanding and Overcoming the Gender Gap in Electric Vehicle Adoption: What's Behind the Divide?

Understanding and Overcoming the Gender Gap in Electric Vehicle Adoption: What's Behind the Divide?

In the ever-changing world of electric vehicles (EVs), 2023 marked a significant milestone for the United States – the sale of over a million EVs in a single year.

This accomplishment signifies a notable shift towards more sustainable transportation, however, as we dive into the details of this electrifying movement, a distinct gender difference comes into focus.

Beyond the raw data, our exploration aims to uncover the nuanced dynamics of how men and women perceive and engage with EVs and EV charging.

In this article we’ll explore various statistics, offering insights into the diverse factors shaping the landscape of electrification in the automotive industry and the subtleties of EV adoption, as well as discuss solutions for expanding access and creating greater inclusivity in the all-electric future of sustainable transportation.

A Landmark Year for Electric Vehicles

Electric Vehicle sales in the United States continued to grow in 2023, reaching one million vehicles for the first time in a single year. That translates to 9% of total sales, up from 7.5%. While those are encouraging statistics, the number of EV purchases is strongly skewed toward men in comparison to women. This highlights both a problem and an opportunity for electric vehicle sales and the future of electric vehicle adoption.

Encouraging more women in the US to EV adoption can significantly drive EV growth and close the sales gap with world leaders such as Germany( 33%), China (35%), and Norway (90%). Let’s consider some electric car statistics that will shed light on the situation. A recent study by Edmunds elucidates this gender gap in EV adoption statistics, while further analysis by Climate News presents potential explanations for the reasons behind this trend.

Understanding the Gender Gap in EV Adoption

The Edmunds Survey

According to Edmunds, a prominent online provider of automotive information, in the first half of 2023, 67% of EV purchases were made by men and 33% by women. That compares to an average across the auto industry of 59% by men and 51% by women. In short, men in the U.S. buy almost twice as many EVs as women, a trend that does not exist with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.

Edmunds further conducted a sentiment survey that found that among prospective buyers, 71% of men said they would consider an EV versus only 34% of women. Tellingly, women lagged behind men in enthusiasm for EVs, scoring only 22% versus 54% for men, while a surprising 24% of women said they did not know enough about EVs to respond.

Another important finding of the study was that men find automotive brand names more important than women at a rate of 42% versus 22%, while women were more likely than men to value range at a similar statistic of 41% to 28%. Perhaps in a related sentiment, 24% of women would consider hybrid and plug-in vehicles versus full EVs while only 10% of men indicated the same.

The remaining findings of the Edmunds study showed that women are more price-conscious than men when looking at EVs, with 34% of women looking for a price point under $30,000 versus 16% of men preferring that price point.

However, when it comes to the desires that motivate men and women to adopt electric vehicles, women scored relatively high at 33% versus 14% for men for motivation to fight climate change, while the reverse was true when it came to being a first mover on a new thing as 31% of men were motivated by this desire, while only 13% of women were so inclined. When it comes to new technology, the study found that both genders valued it almost equally.

The Climate News Perspective

Climate News is a Nobel Prize-winning, non-partisan, non-profit organization that provides news about climate change, energy, and the environment to the public. In a March 2023 article in their publication, Inside Climate News, they echoed the EV gender disparity and barriers to EV adoption that Edmunds found and expanded on the reasons for it.

Affordability and safety were two main themes in the article, and this provides crucial insight into how EVs are currently perceived and how we can work to increase accessibility and reduce the gender disparity in EV adoption to further support electrification and sustainability goals for renewable energy transportation.

The first major finding from Inside Climate News is that women may simply feel priced out of the EV market. While prices have come a long way and incentives exist on the federal level and through many state and local levels as well, EVs remain relatively pricey when compared to ICE vehicles. New EVs average $61,000 versus $49,000 for ICE vehicles, and there are more affordable and budget-friendly options available for gas-powered vehicles at this time, although new models may soon change that.

Climate News’ report, along with Edmunds’ finding that 77% of women are looking for EVs in the lowest price ranges, supports the sentiment that women feel priced out of EVs and are looking for affordability over luxury. Income disparity between American women and men also may underlie that perception. Forbes reports that women in 2022 earned on average 17% less than men and that the gap increases with age and is also much wider for minority women.


Climate News found that women inherently value safety, and female EV owners want a safe place to charge. But when it comes to charging safety, that can look very different for men and women.

Many existing charging stations tend to be in back-lot, out-of-the-way spaces with less-than-optimal lighting and limited security with few to no attendants. As an example, Climate News cites an early charging station located in the back parking lot of a zoo, concluding that early on, developers of charging stations did not take a holistic view of all users’ needs.

Complicating the location issue, charging takes longer than with fueling ICE vehicles. With the fastest method of charging available, Level 3 or DCFC charging stations can take 30 minutes to over an hour for a full charge, while Level 2 EV chargers can take 4 to 10 hours to fully charge an EV.

While those wait times may not be as concerning in a well-lit and secure environment, or even in a location where you can step away from your vehicle for something such as shopping in a mall, spending a day in an amusement park, or grabbing a quick meal, remaining with your vehicle in an isolated place for an extended period of time can certainly lead to questions about safety.

While that’s not to say that men might also find themselves feeling unsafe in these environments, there is statistically a higher trend in women feeling aware and showing concerns about the safety in their environment, and this is certainly a consideration for EV adoption and EV charger installation in public spaces.

That parallels Edmunds’ finding that women find longer range important, since they may perceive public charging as an unpleasant and even dangerous activity. It also explains women’s much higher degree of interest in hybrid or plug-in vehicles with their extended range and ability to also utilize gasoline as fuel.

Safety concerns can make at-home charging an even greater appeal to women EV owners. Installing an at-home charger can allow women to enjoy charging in the safety and convenience of their homes while they sleep and provide the peace of mind of a stable and controlled charging environment, as well as help them save money on charging with cheaper electricity rates. While some public chargers offer free or discounted rates, these charging times are often at night when women may feel even less safe in an isolated and dimly-lit charging area.

Federal, state, local, and utility incentives can also help to increase the affordability of this project, with savings for the purchase of an EV charger and on the costs of an EV charger installation. Additionally, some EV manufacturers may offer additional incentives for a professional EV charger installation to ensure the safety of the charging experience and the longevity of the vehicle battery, in addition to including a charger with the purchase of an EV or at a discounted rate.

Going Deeper: Why Men and Women Have Differing Attitudes Toward EV Purchases

Men are more likely to consider an EV purchase than women by a wide margin of almost two to one. But why is this the case, when men and women are almost equally represented in the overall market?

Some inference is necessary, but it is important to factor in other perceptions in the survey for a comprehensive look as why there is such a drastic difference in the rate of EV adoption between men and women. For example, 24% of women surveyed said that they did not know enough about EVs to have an opinion, while only half as many women as men said they were enthusiastic about EVs.

The lack of enthusiasm correlates to a wide gap between men and women regarding excitement about being the first to own a new thing. Men are almost three times more excited about being a first mover than women and may be more likely to investigate EVs in depth than women, but it also signals a potential opportunity for auto manufacturers and other electrification companies to strategize their approach to marketing EVs and their energy transition as much of this may be due to the marketing messaging of automakers.

Current marketing messages have very much been designed to emphasize the exciting newness of EV innovation rather than pragmatism, safety, and environmental benefits that appeal to women, but perhaps a joint or multifaceted approach would be of greater benefit. One great example of an auto brand with an alternative marketing exception to this standard practice of focusing on the exciting newness and innovation of technology is Ford.

Led by Linda Zhang, the development of the Ford F-150 Lightning brought the lowest-priced variant of the popular EV model in at $39,000, the lowest price of any EV truck in America. With the added ability to utilize the Lightning’s battery to power a home or various other devices, and an extended-range battery available that extends the driving range to 320 miles, the Lightning is an excellent example of an EV model that addresses and meets the needs of men and women when it comes to price, pragmatism, and range.

The Edmunds study highlights the importance of brand loyalty to men, seemingly twice as important as to women per those surveyed but does not explain why. Interestingly, S&P Global Mobility found in a separate study that women are more brand loyal than men concerning all purchases, and are more than 4% more likely to remain loyal to the same brand in the future. With this contrasting evidence, perhaps the lack of EV brand loyalty in this instance is more a product of the noted lack of knowledge of EVs among women relative to other types of vehicles.

What Does All of This Mean?

In short, pragmatism, safety, price, and the environment are the common priorities with regards to women’s sentiments toward EVs. A stronger preference for a longer range indicates an aversion to running out of power in the wrong place and safety during recharging is a major concern for women.

Pricing is an important issue for women, and their price expectations are much lower than for men. Women also value protecting the environment more than men. Additionally, there is a significant EV knowledge deficit for women versus men that is likely slowing EV growth and it is crucial that we address and overcome these challenges to support a resilient future of sustainable transportation for everyone.

Marketing Strategy Solutions to Build Engagement by Women

EV makers must spend more time and resources in providing educational opportunities to teach men and women interested in purchasing a new vehicle about the advantages of EVs, but it doesn’t stop there.

The narratives must be about affordable prices, accompanied by more affordable EVs that also emphasize safety, increased range, preserving the environment, and practicality. One of the greatest benefits of EV ownership when it comes to savings is the long-term benefit of reduced vehicle maintenance, lower fueling costs, and enhanced value when coupled with other energy-saving technologies such as solar panels or battery storage.

Additionally, charging station developers, public officials, and manufacturers can work together to increase safety at charging stations with better lighting, cameras, and perhaps even attendants like gas stations or rest stops. The federal government can help with funding and regulations, but it must be a collective effort by industry leaders to ensure we’re creating accessible charging spaces where all EV drivers can feel safe to charge.

More education about the safety of at-home charging is necessary and should be included in every part of the EV purchasing journey. Dealerships can work with EVSE manufacturers to ensure the information they share on home charging is accurate and can even help to connect customers with licensed installers who are pre-vetted, licensed, and ensured, so the customer can feel assured in knowing their EV charger installer is qualified and approved by the dealership. This is especially important for at-home EV charger installers who will be entering the homes of auto buyers and can be another point of safety for the customer.

When it comes to building an inclusive future for EV drivers where both men and women feel confident in buying and driving electric vehicles, understanding why gender can impact those decisions is critical. Recognizing the nuances in perspectives and lived experiences is pivotal in creating a comprehensive strategy that will significantly shape the pace of EV adoption across America.

As we embrace the inevitability of an all-electric future, engaging in these crucial conversations becomes paramount. By understanding and addressing the diverse considerations associated with gender, we can foster an environment that empowers individuals of all backgrounds to confidently embrace and contribute to the burgeoning era of electric mobility.

Men vs. Women in the EV Race

The wide gap between EV purchases by men versus women presents an opportunity for EV manufacturers to strategize their approach to build sales and gain on global leaders. Women’s preferences and priorities differ significantly from men’s, and manufacturers need to increase their focus on attention to women’s perspectives in both design and marketing. The growth of the EV market in America may depend on it.

But simply redesigning the approach to electric vehicles isn’t enough. With safety as a core consideration for many women, finding ways to reimagine the EV charging experience is crucial to building infrastructure that women can feel confident in using. From charging at home to creating secure public charging spaces, EVCHARG>EN can assist.

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