EV marketing leaves women cold

Urgent action is needed to reduce a widening gender gap in the electric car market as the UK approaches the government deadline for the ban on selling new petrol and diesel engines in 2030.

That is the rallying call from Auto Trader, who has released their No driver left behind: women and the journey to electric report, revealing that women are buying less electric vehicles (EVs) than men due to mistargeted marketing, despite 48% of driving licences being held by women who have more disposable wealth and independence than ever.

The majority of EV marketing is currently focused on technology, despite just 12% of women saying that they prioritise this when buying a car. Instead, Auto Trader say the focus should be on safety, an area that 65% of female drivers thinking safety is most important to their purchase.

This lack of marketing has led to women feeling misinformed about the practicalities of purchasing an EV. For example, research shared within the report showed that a quarter of women (25%) thought that electric vehicles were more expensive to run than petrol or diesel cars. Yet, as of April 2023, electric vehicles were on average £86 cheaper per 1,000 miles to run than petrol or diesel cars.

This is just one area where the report highlights that a lack of targeted information has resulted in a prospective disinterest in EVs for women. The report also identifies that women report higher knowledge gaps around EVs with three of the most prevalent knowledge gaps highlighted as how they drive, how long they take to charge and their eco credentials.

The report highlights a need for more EV promotion on social media and via friends and family to reach women. The Digital Marketing Institute found that 86% of women use social media for purchasing advice, yet the majority of EV promotion is currently in car magazines and newspapers. Additionally, when asked about where they do their car research, women (41%) were far more likely to select family/friend recommendation than men (29%).

Erin Baker, editorial director at Auto Trader, said: “You’d be forgiven for assuming the advent of electric cars (EVs), with their more lifestyle-oriented stories around sustainable materials, enhanced services and carbon footprints, would fundamentally change women’s relationship with cars for the better. And yet, as our new data shows, the gender gap is widening…

“Addressing the issues raised in this report should help a large chunk of UK drivers to feel confident enough to take that leap. Without action, adoption will falter. And more and more drivers will get left behind. Faltering adoption is not good for the UK automotive industry but it’s also not good for the environment, public health or social equality.”