EV Charging Station Design Should Listen to Women’s Concerns
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EV CHARGING

EV Charging Station Design Should Listen to Women’s Concerns

Electrify America EV charging station at night with glowing green lights on charger design
  • EV charging station design is currently lacking when it comes to accessibility and safety.
  • Women in particular have specific concerns that need to be addressed in design and location, especially around safety.
  • The experiences of two women EV drivers illustrate the larger problems at hand but also provide ideas for solutions.

Nicole Wakelin and Eileen Falkenberg-Hull were driving from Disneyland in Anaheim, California, to Disney World in Orlando, Florida, in January last year in a Kia EV6, attempting to break a record set by two men in an ICE vehicle. They encountered torrential rain and heavy fog, but the most relentless concern was attempting to charge their EV.


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Even beyond this particular scenario, it’s a reality that women buy far fewer EVs than men overall, and charging concerns are high on the list of reasons why. Accessible EV charging station design is one way to boost EV adoption among women.

Women accounted for just 28% of all new EV registrations in 2022, according to S&P Global Mobility. Safety concerns, including those related to charging, are a major barrier to EV consideration among women. 

In a study by Geotab, 43% of U.S. women and 30% of Canadian women surveyed admitted that they have concerns about safety at EV charging stations. In addition, 40% of U.S. women and half of Canadian women surveyed said accessible, well-lit charging stations in less remote areas would make them more likely to consider buying an EV. 

So, what would make EV charging station design more accessible for women?


Location, Location, Location

Image care of ChargePoint

Accessible EV charging infrastructure means choosing to locate EV charging stations in well-lit and, if possible, well-trafficked areas.

At one 2 a.m. charging stop near the Texas border, in the parking lot of a hotel that “didn’t look like it had been open in a thousand years,” a large SUV with its lights off pulled up to Wakelin’s EV6. Fortunately, it was the Border Patrol, Wakelin told Electrify News in an interview. Still, “it was disconcerting,” she said. Talk about understatement.


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In more urban areas, retailers adding EV charging stations is a laudable trend. But they also need to consider that placing charging stations in a remote, dark corner of a large parking lot does not make them especially accessible or attractive to women.

Kristen Bentley, a high-school English teacher, drove her Kia EV6 from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Memphis, Tennessee, in February. (Full disclosure: Kristen is also a staff writer for Electrify News.) She and her husband stopped at a charging station in Columbus, Ohio, that was in the corner of a large retailer’s parking lot.

“It was so dark,” she said. “It was off in the middle of nowhere.” To add insult to injury, “it didn’t work!”

Okay, she was with her husband. But the location was rather threatening, nonetheless.


Visibility Plus Cleanliness

Image care of Electrify America

Accessible EV charging station design should have clear visibility on all sides and be clean.

Some of the EV charging infrastructure Wakelin used placed the actual EV charging posts behind a fenced-in power box, blocking visibility. Some charging locations were also “filthy dirty,” she said.

“It lends a sense of no one is here; this is an abandoned, neglected space.” 

On the happy side of the visibility+cleanliness category, one of Bentley’s most enjoyable charging experiences was in Gallipolis, Ohio, where two ChargePoint EV charging posts were in the middle of the downtown area, close to shopping and restaurants.

“The last thing I want to do is sit in my car,” she said.


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Universal Charging Infrastructure

Image care of Tesla

Accessible EV charging infrastructure should have a unified payment system with a user-friendly interface. In the future, a universal charging infrastructure would be ideal. 

Anything that distracts a woman from her immediate surroundings makes her less safe. A universal charging infrastructure, with a unified payment method, would make women feel more secure when charging. 

On her cross-country trip, Wakelin encountered a charger that — though it was supposed to be operated by an app — asked her to please insert cash.

The charger was “not a soda machine,” fumed Wakelin. “There was no place to insert cash. We could not get it to connect.” 

She resolved the issue by calling the charging station operator. To their credit, the charging station operator representatives she dealt with on her trip (and there were more than one) were almost all extremely helpful, Wakelin said.

“But it leaves you standing in the middle of a parking lot,” she said. 


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To be sure, some EV charging is super easy to pay for, involving only logging into an app or swiping a credit card. But each station requires its own app. Bentley has six charging apps on her phone. Wouldn’t it be great if one day there was one app to rule them all? 


EV Charging Station Design Should Heed Women’s Needs

Concerns about charging aren’t the only reasons women are not buying as many EVs as men, but they are a reason. Addressing them is crucial if EV adoption is to grow faster. 

EV manufacturers have skin in this game, as well. If women were more confident and comfortable with their charging options, perhaps buying an EV would be more appealing to this currently untapped market.

Designing and building accessible EV charging stations is not only desirable, but also possible. Just listen to female EV drivers.


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FEATURE IMAGE: ELECTRIFY AMERICA

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AUTHOR: 

ALYSHA WEBB

7 Responses

  1. As one of those women who bought an EV in 2023, I have a few concerns as well:
    1. All charging stations should be ultra fast stations. Shouldn’t have to hang out anywhere more than 30min at any time.
    2. The cables should be longer or have a hinge (like charge point stations do) I often have to move the car to get the cable to extend to where my plug in is on my EV
    3. They should have ultra fast charging stations at all rest stops and even some on the side of the hwy like cal boxes.
    4. There should be more than 3 or 4 charging stations at wash place. If they want EVs to really take off, need to provide ample opportunities to charge.

    Side note 1, not all EV owners live where they can install a home charger either.
    Side note 2, not everyone is open to giving their data to Elon with the adaptor to access his charging stations, so that’s not an option for a lot of us either

    1. Hi Natalie,
      Great points! I aim to write regularly on how to make charging more appealing to women EV owners. I’ll save these points for future stories. May I contact you if I want an EV driver’s voice in my story?
      Best,
      Alysha

  2. We agree, founder Kate Tyrrell of EV Chargesafe aims to address women’s safety concerns at EV ChargePoints by rating them out of 5 stars for lighting & security and publishing the results! After her own experience at public chargers, Kate founded the business in 2021 and is now recognised as one of the most influential women in EV.

    1. Hi Kate,
      I’d love to hear more about EVChargesafe. Can we sked a time to talk next Wednesday?

  3. This is a timely article. I’ve had my EV since 2022, and have charged up in some pretty lonely places. I do what I can to stay safe.

    Another factor to consider is accessibility. I’ve had to climb through piled up snow, have had to connect in the pouring rain and have had to shield the HMI to be able to see the screen in the sun.. At least while I’m interacting with the charging screen, it would be nice to have been under some type of covering.

  4. I agree with all of the above. I’ve had my EV since 2021 and am a retiree. When I travel across country I have to limit my drive to daylight hours because I don’t want to charge at night. And after security concerns, my biggest wishlist item is having coverings.

  5. “ what would make EV charging station design more accessible for women?”
    Simple solution: They should offer alternative fuels, such as gasoline. Safe and fast!

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