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Do electric cars have a gender divide?

When it comes to starting an EV company, female entrepreneurs across all industries are still facing limited access to investors and funding.

EV startups have been crucial in revolutionizing the transportation industry. They help speed up the transition to EVs as they work on developing not only cars but also better batteries and charging solutions. The entrepreneurs working for EV startups typically have fresh ideas that mainstream car brands may not, possibly making EVs seem more intriguing to consumers. In addition, various EV startups are also developing other eco-friendly mobility solutions such as electric bicycles and scooters.

Historically, men have dominated the auto industry. Along the way, however, there have been many female inventors, designers, and C-Suite executives who worked to change the auto industry in revolutionary ways. Women’s’ involvement in the industry has expanded over the years, but they seem to be lagging behind a bit when it comes to electric vehicle (EV) adoption.

EV startups undoubtedly fall short of mainstream automakers when it comes to gender representation in both technical and non-technical roles. These companies are mainly operated by men and, in addition, more customers of these startups are males. This leads to women being underrepresented in EV startups and therefore they may miss out on various perspectives and business ideas that women could provide

While progress has absolutely been made over the past couple of decades, women are still underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). STEM skills are imperative when working with or investing in advanced technology such as an EV that requires a lot of research & development as well as product design. When it comes to wanting to start an EV company, female entrepreneurs across all industries – including the automotive industry – are also still facing limited access to investors and funding compared to their male counterparts.

The Gender Gap in EV Ownership

S&P Global Mobility released an analysis on gender demographics in personal new vehicle registrations, which found that 41% of all vehicle registrations – both EV and internal combustion engine vehicles – were completed by women. However, women completed only 28% of all EV registrations. Women accounted for 33.1% of Tesla registrations, 24.7% of Polestar registrations, 19.5% of Lucid registrations, and 14.5% of Rivian registrations.


Tesla has the highest registration rate of the EVs S&P Global Mobility analyzed, which may be because of the brand’s name and image, as it is the company many people think of first when they think of an EV. The analysis found that one possible reason women represent Tesla purchases more often is that Tesla’s Model Y SUV is attractive to them, seeing as the compact SUV is a strong segment for female car shoppers. In addition, Tesla often advertises its regular over-the-air updates, which include upgraded safety features. Females typically prioritize safety when purchasing a vehicle, making these updates very attractive.

The Challenges of Polestar, Lucid, and Rivian

While Tesla is seeing some success in appealing to women, other EV startups such as Polestar, Lucid, and Rivian are facing challenges. For starters, since the gender gap still remains between males and females when it comes to automotive enthusiasts, many women have never heard of these companies or at least have never done any research on them so they are unaware of what they offer. Most women drivers, on the other hand, have probably at least heard of Tesla.

Another advantage Tesla has over other EV startups is its own established charging network. While Rivian is working on one, Tesla’s is superior at the moment. Women want convenience and efficiency, meaning they want to have reliable fast chargers available to them if they are going to buy an EV.

In addition, a 2019 study by the University of Sussex found that men generally “give more importance to speed and acceleration and design and style when choosing a car, while women rank ease of operation, safety, running costs and environmental impact.” Therefore, the designs of the cars these EV startups develop are also critical to their success with women. Rivian, for example, currently offers the R1T truck and the R1S SUV, and both are advertised as being able to handle rugged terrain and outdoor adventures. This, in general, is more likely to attract men than women, whereas the functionality of Tesla’s Model Y is more attractive to women. 

Ultimately, research indicates Polestar, Lucid, Rivian, and other EV startups may find some benefit in tailoring their vehicles and advertising more towards the needs of women. 

Understanding the Gendered Dynamics

As mentioned, many women are unaware of non-Tesla EV brands and therefore these brands may benefit from developing strong marketing strategies that can attract a wider customer base.  Brand perception and design/performance are both crucial in the auto industry as a whole. 

Marketing and Brand Perception

Marketing, of course, is basically communication. EV companies should have effective marketing messages that will reach a diverse audience, including women. Advertising the positives of EVs such as their environmental-friendliness, cost savings over time, and cutting-edge technology are a few points that might attract attention. Advertisements should feature a lot of diversity (including women) to make customers feel like an EV is right for their needs in a vehicle, and this may include having women share their positive experiences with one. 

In addition, targeting specific demographics such as those living in busy cities or those out in more rural areas can also help increase a sense of inclusion and improve EV brands’ perception. EV brands may also want to develop marketing materials addressing some of the common concerns women have about EVs.

EV developers may also benefit from partnerships with female influencers, eco-friendly organizations, and other community collaborations including those that women operate and/or play a large role in. Doing this can emphasize a brand’s inclusiveness and give potential buyers a good impression of it. Of course, providing great customer service and gathering feedback from all customers are always good for a brand’s perception as well. 

Design and Performance

Preferred design and performance vary from person to person, but women and men are sometimes inclined to place more of an emphasis on different features. Both genders prefer sleek designs and advanced yet user-friendly interfaces, but differ a bit on various things. For example, women are more inclined to purchase a practical compact car or small to midsize SUV, whereas men like sporty cars or large SUVs and trucks that can handle rugged terrain. 

Safety is important to both genders, but women usually put it higher on their priority lists. Men often place more importance on speed, acceleration, and advanced performance. Ultimately, an important step EV developers may want to take is developing an excellent market research process. Market research gives great insight into the wants and needs of customers, which includes aspects like driving habits and lifestyles. 

Offering various models and special feature packages geared towards specific demographics may also increase interest in an EV brand. Advertising things like safety features, advanced technology, and range capabilities could attract both genders. 

Overcoming the Gender Divide

Ultimately, EV developers will need to find solutions to bridge the gender gap and appeal to both men and women, and the following are a few ideas on how this can be done. 

Targeted Marketing and Outreach

In order to reach women, EV brands have to conduct targeted marketing and outreach for them. After completing market research and figuring out what women want, creating marketing and outreach materials that include women in them can bring attention. Since women are interested in concepts like eco-friendliness and safety, including these in marketing ads can also be effective. Creating marketing materials, holding seminars, or forming groups that answer questions about EVs commonly asked by women may also make them feel more confident in buying an EV. 

Social media is a powerful tool and EV developers may be able to reach more women with it. Building online communities where women can ask questions and share their experiences with one another can increase interest in EVs. Other things like live webinars and creating attractive yet informative social media ads may also be beneficial. Of course, if EV developers are responsive to women on social media, it may make them feel more included. 

Collaborations and Partnerships

Social media and the Internet in general are great resources to reach people and share information. A major marketing tool used by companies today is collaborating/partnering with influencers who will advertise their products and attract attention. EV companies can do the same by engaging in collaborations with female-led organizations and influencers that have a positive reputation. 

Partnerships allow brands to obtain expertise and reach a broader audience, which includes women. These can be facilitated through organizations such as nonprofits and schools that can provide informational events and/or advertisements. Partnering with companies and suppliers that are women-owned and minority-owned may also encourage females to consider an EV more.

The Future of Gender Equality in Electric Vehicles

Addressing the gendered dynamics in EV ownership can help EV brands (including startups) thrive. The market potential could widen as EV makers place more focus on what women want and need in a vehicle. Incorporating diverse perspectives can help EV manufacturers create cars that are more inclusive for different demographics, which therefore can attract a wider customer base. 

Employment in the EV sector is primarily dominated by men right now, but if EV manufacturers are able to attract more women customers, they may also be able to attract more female employees and executives. A larger talent pool can bring more perspectives, skills, and ideas to an EV manufacturer, which can therefore lead to innovation and efficient problem-solving. As mentioned, it also may encourage more women to look for careers in STEM that could lead them to working in the auto industry.

If women become more involved in the EV sector, they can bring attention not only to what features women want in their cars, but also challenges that may exist. Subsequently, they can work with their male counterparts to develop solutions and improve the product(s) they offer. EV developers that have diverse teams may be well-equipped to handle issues and come up with creative ways to overcome them. 

Reducing the gender divide in the EV industry could work to diminish systemic barriers that have historically limited the number of women working in the auto industry. This may work for both customers and workers in the EV industry, as employees and executives may serve as role models for other women, therefore influencing the female customer base more. Finding and retaining a diverse workforce can lead to positive changes and better products overall. 


Recognizing and addressing the gendered dynamics in the EV industry could be very helpful throughout the transition to EVs. Gender biases in the industry can reinforce the common outdated stereotype that it is a “men’s’ industry” and therefore limit opportunities and products for female customers and the female workforce. Diversity in the industry can also lead to economic benefits as more ideas, skills, and perspectives can help EV manufacturers become more competitive in the growing EV landscape.

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Kimberly Hurley
Kimberly Hurley
Kimberly Hurley is a contributing writer and investigative journalist for CBT News, with over a decade of experience specializing in automotive, healthcare, and manufacturing. She enjoys working with industry professionals throughout the world to develop engaging, and accurate content.

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