Publication Detail

NCST Research Report: Are We Hardwiring Gender Differences into the Market for Plug-in Electric Vehicles?


Research Report

National Center for Sustainable Transportation

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Suggested Citation:
Kurani, Kenneth S., Nicolette Caperello, Jennifer TyreeHageman (2018) NCST Research Report: Are We Hardwiring Gender Differences into the Market for Plug-in Electric Vehicles?. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-18-05

Evidence from the early market for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) indicates fewer were being purchased (or leased) by women than would be expected based on women’s participation in all new vehicle transactions. The ratio of male-to-female applicants for California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate (CVR) averaged approximately three males for every female from early 2011 to mid- 2015; the ratio for all new vehicle transactions is approximately one-to-one. Research on early PEV owners indicated that for their many similarities, females and males talked about their PEVs in ways that suggest female PEV drivers’ experiences may carry less influence to shape the future of PEVs and charging infrastructure than males’. First, there were simply fewer female PEV owners to provide feedback. Second, females were more likely than males to talk about how they adapted to the present capabilities of PEVs while male respondents were more likely to talk about PEVs in terms of testing their limits. For example, female PEV drivers were more likely to talk about how they used the available charging infrastructure; male respondents were more likely to point to where and how to extend infrastructure.

This study extends the analysis from early PEV buyers to the population of new-car buyers (of whom the vast majority own gasoline powered internal combustion engine and hybrid electric vehicles (ICEVs and HEVs)) in California. The results presented here are based on data from an on-line survey of new-car buyers in California conducted at the end of 2014 and subsequent in- home interviews with a subset of survey respondents in early 2015.

The overall conclusion is that among new-car buyers, female and male respondents share similar distributions of interest in the next new vehicle for their household being a PEV or fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV). For no electric-drive vehicle type did the male-to-female ratio approach that seen in the actual early market for PEVs. Under conditions that most closely correspond to the availability of incentives at the time of the survey, 22% of males and 21% of females express an interest in a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) (a ratio of 1.05 males for every female) and 12% of males and 10% of females express an interest in a battery electric vehicle (BEV) (ratio of 1.20). The difference is greater for FCEVs for which the ratio is 1.76 males for every female.