Recently the hype around women and their love for cars has gone nearly mad. Studies show that women are better drivers. Automakers started creating special cars for women. Where is this new interest in women coming from?! Since 2012, women hold more driver’s licenses than men. They drive more than 50% of automakers’ sales in the country. They are the influencers behind 80% of the auto purchases. Has the world gone crazy or are women really interested in cars these days?
Do women really love cars now? Hmm. Well, is it really that hard to believe?
The automobile industry has typically been considered a male domain. Women have been kept outside its boundaries for quite some time now. Or at least some believe this is the way things are. When a woman expressed her opinion on a vehicle or its mechanics, she would get the looks. “Why does she think she has the capability to talk on this topic?!” Even if she was right, her words would be neglected until a man confirmed the same thing.
Yet, this stereotype is drastically changing with more women showing interest in cars. Indeed there are some women who know cars and love cars as much as men do. If not even more. Yes, car gals would go way quite far for their cars. But that’s not really news, is it?
Indeed, women have been actively involved in the automotive industry since its very beginning.
Bertha Benz, for example, is one of the most often mentioned female figures in the history of cars. Her husband, Karl Benz, developed Benz Patent-Motorwagen – one of the first vehicles with internal combustion engines. And one day, Mrs.Benz decided to make use of the prototype. She decided to use the vehicle to take her children to their grandmother’s, a few tens of kilometers away.
This was the first time someone used a car for personal reasons – for sociability. Some might say the act was rather silly than logical. Yet, if it wasn’t for her female decisiveness and initiative, the car might still be sitting in that garage motionless.
And while at first, women’s knowledge of cars stayed in the shadow of their husbands, in the late 1970s women were free to take on the wheel. Female ownership of vehicles became common and more women began driving themselves without relying on a male partner. So it’s not like women’s interest in cars is some new trend from the past decade.
Passion Turned into a Profession
And what about women who are not only fond of cars but actually chose driving as their profession? Now, there is a new wave of female pioneers who have made cars their full-time life — immersing themselves in car culture, racing and becoming experts in everything that is going on under the bonnet.
It is true that Formula 1 and NASCAR are mainly a men’s thing. But just like anything else these days, women are the backbone of these races. Women are shifting the shape and the direction of the events now more than ever. They have roles in sports ownership and team management. But there are women behind the wheel who are as aggressive as guys. Their endurance and mental training are stronger. And when you ask them why they do it, they would say “Because I love the feel just as much as he does”.
Female truckers are not a fad either. Yet, they still get one common reaction to their love for driving. “You should be at home in the kitchen, with kids. This is a man’s world and a man’s job.” Today in the U.S. there are over 200,000 female truck drivers of the total number of 8 million CDL licensed drivers. Since 2005 the number of female truck drivers entering the industry has increased by 50%.
And these numbers will continue to increase. Some attribute that to the rising calls for equal rights and the expansion of feminism movements. But the truth is that none of these trends are against men. It’s just women’s love for driving. They say the best cooks are men. So maybe soon we can also say that the best drivers are women.
The Skill Comes with the Love
They say you can be good at everything as long as you do it with love. This is probably why women have been claimed the gender that’s better at driving.
According to a new study in the UK, the best driver would be a middle-aged woman who has two kids and works in software engineering.
This may be surprising for some but it seems like it is unbelievable for women themselves. Only 28% of women thought they were better drivers than men. And only 13% of men thought women were superior behind the wheel. Stereotypical thinking is still in place. But apparently, this doesn’t affect women’s love for driving.
And Where Does the Love Come from?
The reasoning behind women’s love for cars can be way too broad. Yet, there are three main drivers that we have identified among the rising interest in the past years. The car can carry different meanings for women depending on their background, current state, and future plans. Most commonly, the car is:
- A symbol of social status
“You are only as good-looking as the car you drive”. We have heard this being said by women to the guys behind the wheel. Yet, it is valid the other way around, too. Women consider their possessions a true personification of who they are. And not a single woman wants to damage her own reputation and lose others’ respect. This turns her car into a guardian and a platform on which she can stand tall. She will need a well-known brand that supports her social image.
- A sign of Independence
Women show more determination today than ever to be self-sufficient and self-reliable. They are encouraged by their own mothers to get good degrees and develop a large skill set. And driving is one of these things you have to know how to do to be an independent woman today. The car becomes their supporter, the only thing they know they can depend on. This is why women want to buy a car they can truly trust. Once they have it, they can be free of any other restraints.
- A tool for adventures
There’re no more chains to women’s free spirit in today’s society. If a girl wants something, she finds her way to getting it done. If she wants to run away, she gets the most suitable car and runs toward a new adventure. The car is not a utility. It’s a ticket to creating new memories. With her girlfriends, with her lover, by herself. There are no limits to where one can go, so why should a woman be kept away from the world? The car she gets will become her companion. This is why it needs to be comfy and durable. High speeds are always a bonus.
The Cars Women Love
Some like big, others like small cars. The size doesn’t matter as long as it does the job.
- 4×4 Vehicles
A 2013 study conducted by Yoann Demoli, Ph.D., who is a specialist in automotive offers, examined the behavior of women behind the wheel, particularly in 4×4 vehicles. What he found out was that nearly a third of 4×4 drivers are women. Among these, his team identified two conductive segments: highly qualified women (senior managers) or independent on the one hand, and fairly affluent women employed and inactive in households on the other hand.
- Sustainable Compacts
In addition to the previous trend, where a woman wants a big vehicle, we see the exact opposite direction also finding its way. Women show more interest in sustainability requirements than men. They follow pollution rates and energy consumption metrics. This is why they want their vehicles to be compact and efficient – to both their pockets and the environment. This is why automakers have started targeting special models for the “Citizen woman” who wants low consumption rates and drives less than her husband.
- Newer Models
It may not be a shock that women are the gender more interested in newer cars. In that past the scenario was exactly the opposite – a woman would get her husband’s older car when he wants to get a new one. Today, this is not the case anymore. If we consider the female obsession with shopping, then a car is just another new buy… just bigger and pricier. Naturally, it turns out women buy brand new cars more often than men do. They want their vehicles younger. Just like themselves.
- The Combo
More and more often today you will see a woman who owns more than one of these cars. Similar to a girl’s closet, a girl’s garage can always fit more. She would own a BMW X5. There’s something about the higher ride height and “rugged capability” that women like. But there are still the times she wants to feel classy, become a contemporary Audrey Hepburn. And for these occasions, she has her classic Beetle.
Automakers and Female Drivers
So if we put all this into marketing terms, women are a great target for automakers. They are the new drivers, they are the skillful and educated drivers, they are the ones who love each piece of their cars. They not only have a bigger influence on the decision of the family car, but they also have the buying power to choose their own. Even more than one. In order for automakers to succeed in reaching this potential market, they need to reconsider their practices.
For starters, gendered car advertising should stop. Women are no longer just passive figures in the passenger seat. They are the ones in control, behind the wheel. Stop adding children in the back seats, too. A woman’s love for her car extends beyond its function to help her run her chores.
The right way to market to women is to appreciate their love for cars without being gender explicit. A woman can love the same car a man does. Automakers should avoid sexism even in its mildest forms. There is nothing unnatural or twisted in liking cars. No more than loving clothes, jewelry, or art. And since this love for cars has become the main business driver, then automakers should probably take it to heart. Shouldn’t they, ladies? And now because you know about cars, and efficiency and budgeting, you know that when moving it is always better to ship your car rather than drive it. We are actually very glad that both women and men know that and do ship their vehicles instead of driving thousands of miles across the country.