RAC Cars News


Cars For Girls

By raccars Published

Manufacturers are (finally!) catching on to the purchasing power of the female consumer and making efforts to draw in more feminine customers. While the automotive world remains an area of male dominance overall, RAC Foundation research has suggested the number of male drivers will soon be surpassed by females and certain vehicles are known to be bought by far more women than men.

City cars are a market segment that has shown considerable female bias, which savvy car companies have been quick to exploit. Cute, funky vehicles, such as the Fiat 500 and Mini, have a 60/40 female/male ownership ratio and the new Vauxhall Adam is making a point of capitalising on this statistic. It would be plain old-fashioned sexism to state that women choose cars based on colour alone and that pink, but gender studies have reported differences in the way men and women respond to car buying. Women are known to focus on details, so manufacturers are offering wider choices of trim and finish, but are also concerned with driving comfort.

Ford, for example, has a special Women's Product Panel, comprised of female employees studying new model development outside the usual technological and engineering requirements. The group considers female specific criteria, such as the user friendliness of the interior layout or the tactile properties of cabin materials, down to specifics such as the likelihood of engagement rings scratching door panels when opening handles, the difficulty of entering and exiting the vehicle in a pencil skirt or if the switchgear is easy to operate with long nails.

GM conducts similar investigations focusing on ergonomics – can seats be folded down and the boot lid lifted with ease and how far do drivers' seats need to travel so that shorter drivers can reach controls, for example.

That's not to say looks don't matter. The new Vauxhall Adam has taken the extensive customisation options offered by rivals and taken them a step further – foiled trim with firefly patterning and LED roof lights twinkling like stars are some of the female friendly options available, to help buyers personalise their vehicles. The Adam is unashamedly campaigning on its fashion accessory status, which is not to say it's not a very competent little car into the bargain.

Renault's customer research suggests that Vauxhall has got the right idea, with women seeing their cars as an extension of their personalities, in the same way as their wardrobes. While it's been a long time coming, the opportunity to express a more personal identity on the road is likely to repay manufacturer investment in the subject with increased female patronage.

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