Are Electric Vehicles Failing to Appeal to Female Buyers?
While Tesla leads the way in EV sales with the highest percentage of women buyers, an S&P analysis reveals that EV startups have to play catch-up with industry-wide female representation in vehicle purchases.
The transportation industry is currently experiencing a major transformation as electric vehicle (EV) startups enter the market with fresh designs and impressive. Lucid and Polestar are just two examples of startup brands who have EVs on the market. But, while these new players are challenging the established automakers, they are lagging behind in one crucial area: gender demographics.
According to S&P Global Mobility 2022 analysis, personal new vehicle registrations from the four biggest EV startups available on the US market skew overwhelmingly male. Among the EV brands, Tesla has the greatest gender diversity, with 33.1% of personal vehicle registrations in 2022 belonging to women. Polestar, Lucid, and Rivian trailed behind with 24.7%, 19.5%, and 14.5% respectively. These figures are significantly below the industry average, where 41.2% of new, personal vehicle registrations were to women, according to S&P Global Mobility data. However, industry-wide, women account for just 28% of all electric vehicle registrations.
While Tesla is above-average in this aspect, all the EV startups still lag the industry average. Among all the brands active in the US market, only exotic sports car manufacturers like Bugatti and McLaren have lesser representation among women than Rivian.
Rivian has primarily positioned its R1T electric truck based on its extreme off-road capabilities and supercar-like performance, marketing that appeals to male buyers. It is still too early to calculate if the recently launched Rivian R1S sport-utility vehicle is reversing that trend.
Tesla, on the other hand, sells more of its Model Y compact SUV than any other model, which is typically a strong segment among female car-buyers. However, the Model Y’s share among women is 35%, well above the EV-segment average, yet it is still well below the industry average across all vehicle types.
This lack of appeal among women is a concern for these new brands as they grow their market presence. It also shows that even established automakers are having issues reaching women as they move into the EV space. “A lot of the mainstream brands are adopting an EV strategy,” said Cheryl Woodworth, associate director of consulting for S&P Global Mobility. “How are they going to launch these vehicles? Who are they going to focus on? If they aren’t getting women buyers, they’re not going to hit the sales numbers that they need.”
According to S&P Global Mobility forecasts, EV market share for new vehicles is likely to reach 40% by 2030. To meet the demand, General Motors aims to have 20 EV models available by 2025 as part of a $35 billion investment into electrification and autonomy. Ford recently split its operations, launching its Model e division with plans to produce 2 million EVs annually by 2026 on the back of a $50 billion investment. The world’s second largest automaker, VW, is launching 10 EV models by 2026.
“That EVs aren’t being purchased by women is leading to more questions than answers,” said Marc Bland, chief diversity officer for S&P Global Mobility. “Women shoppers have concerns about range anxiety and safety. These brands need to do a lot more educating.”
A wave of consumer interest, government incentives, and OEM capital-expense funding are bringing EVs into the mainstream. Legacy brands have the advantage of broad brand awareness and resources to attract female car-buyers to their EV lineups.
Startup EV companies that are unsuccessful at attracting women to their EVs risk a scenario where they relegated to a niche status, much like supercars. It is a situation that they simply cannot afford.
Source: S&P Global Mobility
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