UC Davis Study: Women May Be Overlooked in PEV Adoption Process
According to a report compiled by the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies based open studies of early adopters of vehicles like the Nissan LEAF, women and men are different in their approaches to when to charge their PEVs. Among all the other determinations made by “Engendering the Future of Electric Vehicles: Conversations with Men and Women,” one of the most interesting and prescient discoveries has to do with whether women are even considered in the manufacturing process.
“Engendering the Future of Electric Vehicles: Conversations with Men and Women,” authored by Nicolette Caperello, Jennifer TyreeHageman, and Kenneth Kurani, determines that women are much more practical when it comes to ensuring that their electric vehicles are adequately charged while men are more likely to push their vehicles’ limits.
Further, women are more likely to see their PEVs as practical tools, while men see theirs as opportunities for research and development. Women are more likely to take the system given to them by the EV and adapt to a solution within the confines of that system (e.g. the battery’s range or the charging network infrastructure) whereas men are more likely to look for solutions that change the system.
But one of the most interesting discoveries relates to the comparatively low adoption rate for PEVs among women when compared to their actual buying power in the automotive marketplace (women account for half of all car purchases, but only account for 29 percent of LEAF sales and leases in California for example).
The reason, according to the study:
Women’s location in the PEV market is secondary to men’s: there are fewer women and those there are speak less to future developments than do the more numerous men. User norms associated with femininity, such as trip chaining or transporting family members, may be overlooked in the PEV market from vehicle design to use of the vehicles. This lack of voice to what women want and need from a PEV may slow the future adoption of PEVs by women and therefore the total number of PEVs sold and the attainment of the policy goals underlying government support. Women may be left to adapt to a system designed by men for men, or not participate at all.
This begs the question: are engineers and designers failing to take the needs of women drivers into account when it comes to manufacturing new models and adopting new technologies? If that is indeed the case, does that mean that women will ultimately be left to acclimate themselves to technology that does not take their needs into consideration?
The full study is available online (as a downloadable .PDF file), and it is definitely work a look. Once you’re finished, we’d love to hear what you think, so leave us a comment with your thoughts.