Drive Like A Girl

How the auto industry is finally talking (and listening) to women

When it comes to car purchasing it’s been a man’s world since… well, pretty much forever. Only a couple of years ago, your standard family car TV ad would show Dad behind the wheel while Mum and the kids smiled on from the passenger seats. Dealerships were the domain of guys in suits with let’s-make-a-deal handshakes, and manufacturers were staffed by men who designed cars for men.

Sure, there have been a couple of lame attempts to create a car for the ladies (who could forget the Limited Edition Carla Zampatti Ford Laser circa 1985, that came with colour-coded bumpers and a matching keyring and purse?), but overall there hasn’t been a lot of consideration given to women as car buyers, in spite of numerous studies showing women to be highly influential in the decision-making process.

Happily, things are changing. Fast forward to today and at long last, manufacturers, marketers and dealers are taking notice (and no doubt shaking their heads at all those missed opportunities), because more women are purchasing cars than ever before.

Things are changing, more car manufacturers are listening to women
(Credit: Getty)

Now we know that women do the vast majority of family driving (giving rise to the term ‘Mum’s Taxi’), ferrying kids to and from school, sport, activities and social catch-ups. More women than ever are working as professionals and executives, earning significantly more than our mothers did (we’re not yet at parity, but we’re working on it!) and have the income to buy a car that suits our lifestyle, our needs and our personal style. It’s also interesting to note what insurance companies have known for a long time: that women are generally safer drivers than men, which means our insurance premiums are lower. Sorry, boys.

As the manufacturers have caught on, the language used to speak to women about cars has also changed, along with a deeper insight into the role cars play in women’s lives. It’s not about stereotyping women with matching accessories and vanity mirrors, it’s about giving women what they need in a car to get on with life. While one woman might be interested in torque and engine size, another might care far more about whether a car is easy to park or has great hands-free technology to run her city-based business on the go. Or that it has room for her home renovation gear with a spacious interior.

Women are mainly responsible for the decision to purchase a car
(Credit: Getty)

A great example of a car that was designed with the modern woman in mind is the new Hyundai Venue. This fabulous small SUV offers connectivity, safety, comfort and good looks with all the modern-day essentials included as standard (and interestingly, these are higher up on the list of features than some of the more traditional specs you’d usually find in a brochure). That’s not to say it doesn’t perform because it does, but Hyundai know exactly who they’re talking to and it shows that, above all else, they’ve been listening. Here’s hoping we see more of this.

Ladies, start your engines.

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