Emma Parfitt, Head of Product and Marketing (UK), ALD Automotive | LeasePlan (soon to be Ayvens) 

Top Women in EV 2024 is well underway. It’s been a phenomenal week of celebrations and positivity, shining a light on the incredible women in the emobility sector. The first day of this year’s campaign focussed on the women working within Strategy, and was sponsored by Ayvens, the approaching global entity of the ALD Automotive | LeasePlan merger. We’re thrilled to catch up with Emma Parfitt, Head of Product and Marketing (UK).

Do you drive an EV? If so, what, and why?

I commute to our Bristol and Slough offices to see my teams several times a week, and I drive my electric SUV which I received as part of our company car scheme. I also lease our family  car via our salary sacrifice scheme SalaryPlan. They are both great EVs, that really go the distance and are both practical, intuitive and easy to drive and due to low benefit in kind tax rates they’re affordable too!

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How did you start working in the emobility space?

I’ve always worked in and around the  automotive and finance industry and entered the e-mobility space when I began managing products and services at LeasePlan in 2016.  

Today I head up the Product & Marketing at ALD Automotive | LeasePlan, leading our combined product and marketing strategies, actively promoting e-mobility solutions like Flexible and EV Salary sacrifice.

In my previous role as Head of Propositions I directed the development of key propositions, including a pivotal role in establishing the LeasePlan UK Electric Vehicle strategy and was part of the award-winning Electric Moments campaign.  

From those early days, starting out my career at an OEM it has been a steady evolution, leading to a leadership role focused on advancing e-mobility solutions and fostering sustainability.

As Head of Product and Marketing at ALD Automotive | LeasePlan, what’s the key message you think the sector needs to focus on to encourage EV adoption?

In steering the product and marketing strategies at ALD Automotive | LeasePlan in the UK, the pivotal message for fostering EV adoption revolves around highlighting the tangible benefits and breaking down barriers.

Particularly in the fleet sector the key for us is understanding the precise customer challenges and supporting them to find a solution.

This covers a whole range of things from the practicalities of charging to engaging and supporting their driver population with EV adoption.

Our award-winning Electric Moments marketing campaign, recognised for its founding in consumer research was designed to demystify EVs. There is so much negative rhetoric around EVs and we sought to counter that by providing engaging and educational content, such as videos, informative guides, and sharing real-life experiences of EV drivers. The campaign continues as part of our business today – with regular internal updates to ensure our teams are well informed around everything EV, and drum beat communications which continues to address concerns and showcase the practicality and advantages of electric vehicles.

Our research ‘Keeping up with the Greens’ really highlighted that people will follow their peers and wider community when it comes to making a positive impact on the environment. Of course, it’s our job to educate the market on the advantages that come with driving electric and how driving an EV can integrate seamlessly into everyday life with a little bit of planning! We aim to make electric vehicles more accessible, charging more intuitive and demonstrate that they can be more cost effective – especially true when it comes to second life electric vehicles to really appeal to a wider audience.

What’s the most consistent and prevalent barrier to adoption you’ve encountered?

One of the most persistent barriers to widespread electric vehicle (EV) adoption is actually ‘Change anxiety’ rather than the historical concern of range anxiety. Because people often resist change, we’ve shifted our focus beyond range concerns, especially given the impressive advancements in EV technology. Modern electric vehicles can now travel 200+ miles on a single charge, and considering that the average daily trip in the UK is now only 8.4 miles, the viability of EVs for daily commuting is evident.

For fleet managers this can also mean a need to look at how vehicles are used and potentially segmenting their fleet more into specific use cases that can be solved with targeted solutions.  It’s not just what we drive but also how the vehicle is used that is key to fleet EV adoption.

By highlighting the practicality, cost-effectiveness, and the positive environmental impact of EVs, we’re hoping to reduce some of those concerns to encourage a smoother transition to net zero.

Men are roughly six times more likely to buy an EV than women. How do you think the market needs to change its messaging to encourage more women to drive EVs?

We know there is an EV gender gap when it comes to adoption, with men currently six times more likely to buy an EV than women,  which reflects broader societal challenges, including the gender pay gap. 

When we look at the individuals currently driving an EV – they tend to be higher earners, which contributes to a demographic skew towards men who traditionally hold higher-paying positions.

Encouragingly, the market is evolving with the emergence of new entrants offering smaller, more economical EVs. This shift holds particular promise for broader adoption, especially through salary sacrifice car schemes in female-dominated industries such as the health service. However, to bridge the gender gap, there needs to be greater awareness and targeted messaging.

In addition, I think it’s important that as marketeers we understand our market – we need to recognise that not every woman is a mother; therefore, marketing efforts should extend to appeal to beyond the stereotypes. 

But we need to recognise that there are barriers to overcome – that will benefit us all. Initiatives like Kate Tyrell’s work at ChargeSafe, which addresses safety concerns related to charging are instrumental in making EVs accessible for everyone. 

I also believe ongoing Government awareness campaigns and tailored marketing by OEMs to address women’s specific needs and concerns will be crucial in fostering a more inclusive and diverse EV user base. By highlighting the practicality, safety, and economic benefits of EVs, we can encourage more diversity in the population embracing emobility.

What do you think the EV sector will look like in 10 years?

Well of course, everyone will be driving around in an Ayven’s EV if I have anything to do with it! On a serious note, I would imagine in 10 years (which remember is just one year off the 2035 Net Zero deadline) the EV sector is likely to see significant growth with a more diverse range of electric vehicle models, improved battery technology, and expanded charging infrastructure. 

Right now, the steps the Government are taking are positive – with the Plan for Drivers, beneficial Benefit in Kind tax rates and campaigns for increased public awareness of EVs. 

To reach our aspirations in 10 years’ time, we need unwavering support from policy makers – that will be the biggest contributing factor to the rise of EV and in making electric vehicles a mainstream choice for businesses and consumers.

How confident do you feel about a successful transition to emobility in the UK?

I’m confident that with everyone in the sector working together we can make the transition – but cross sector collaboration is key. 

It’s great to see continuous development of infrastructure, advancements in technology, and growing public awareness – they are all positive indicators. But it’s up to us as an industry to continue our ongoing efforts to address barriers, lobby Government and create inclusive, supportive policies that will make emobility accessible for all.

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