Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming more popular in recent years, with more manufacturers releasing their own models and more buyers making the switch. However, according to S&P Global, 72% of EVs are purchased by men and only 28% by women — even though overall car purchases are split 50/50.
What’s causing the split?
Several factors play into the EV purchase gap, according to Inside Climate News. One is price: while EVs tend to be cheaper to maintain than gas-powered vehicles, they cost more upfront.
Since women still make less money than men on average, women are less likely to buy an expensive vehicle. White buyers are also more likely to choose an EV than people of color for the same reason.
“There’s also the fact that women said that they have less familiarity with the fundamentals of owning an [EV],” said Quinta Warren, associate director of sustainability policy at Consumer Reports, which surveyed 8,000 people about the divide between male and female EV owners. “So I think a way to address all of this, obviously, is some exposure, some education, to create more familiarity.”
But perhaps the largest factor is safety.
Unlike gas-powered cars, which can be filled up in just a few minutes, Inside Climate News points out that EVs take as much as half an hour to charge, meaning the driver is stuck at the charger for at least that long.
While gas stations usually have attendants close at hand, EV chargers can often be isolated at the far ends of parking lots or in unpleasant neighborhoods. This creates a safety issue for women, who are likely to be more worried about being vulnerable to assault while charging their cars.
“As usual, because men were making most of the decisions, they were not walking through the scenarios,” Andrea Colomina, the sustainable communities program director at Green Latinos, told Inside Climate News. “You have to think through what is the experience of every potential user.”
Why is it important to make EVs more available to women?
EVs are generally cheaper to drive and maintain than traditional cars. At the same time, they’re healthier for our planet. Where gas-powered cars release heat-trapping gases into our atmosphere when driven, EVs don’t. A widespread shift to electric vehicles would make a massive difference in cooling down the planet, but that can’t happen if only half of the population can use these vehicles safely.
The Biden administration recently devoted over $900 million to building a network of EV charging stations across the U.S. Hopefully, some thought will be given to putting them in safe, accessible locations.
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