Women know what they want in a car

By IOL Motoring Staff Time of article published Apr 10, 2013

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In most cases the difference between a woman's idea of her ideal weight and that of her boyfriend/husband is about five kilograms. Similarly, most men's ideas of what women want in a car range from the frivolous to the patronising.

One major European car maker apparently once had a concept car with remote-controlled gull wing doors to make it easier to load children - and recesses in the head restraints for ponytails. In the 1950s, Chrysler introduced the white and pink Dodge La Femme which had pink rosebuds on silver for the interior, and came with a matching handbag, raincoat and umbrella.

Most women - other than Paris Hilton and the Kardashian Klan - will be glad to hear it was a total sales flop.

On the other hand, Volvo got it more right than they could possibly have guessed when they assembled a team of highly talented women engineers in 2003 and gave them carte blanche to build the car they wanted.

The resulting concept - the YCC - was anything but a girly car and eventually went into production as the C30.

A recent survey of thousands of women drivers showed that the ladies have some pretty tall orders about want they want in a car, and for the most part, they aren't getting it.

1st for Women Insurance managing director Robyn Farrell said features on the ladies' wish list included a fan on the steering wheel for quick-drying nail polish (although Robin Carlisle might have something to say about that!), a dashboard dispenser for hand sanitiser and lotion (not a silly idea at all if Dr Oz is to be believed), extra headroom for hats (most men think that's what sun-roofs are for) a retractable and lighted vanity mirror (look behind the passenger's side sun visor of most cars today, madam), a built-in vanity table, a hair iron in the back seat and a coffee machine.


Other must-haves were front and rear parking sensors and surround-view cameras, a head-up display that shows the kids in the back seat (some Renaults have a second rear-view mirror that's almost as good), a self-cleaning anti-bacterial steering-wheel cover (see above) and a more developed voice-command option that allows the driver to make phone calls, find music and access the GPS, as well as control the mobile devices that the kids are using - preferably with a man's voice saying, “Yes, dear”.

Sexist jokes aside, most of those girly-car ideas make sense, no matter what gender the driver. It's noteworthy that the ladies surveyed rated hand-sanitising lotion more highly than the air-freshener dispenser that's already standard on some Citroen models.


“The study showed that safety is of primary importance to a woman when buying a car, followed by performance and economy - including purchase price, fuel efficiency and running costs,” Farrell said.

“Women also feel strongly about how their cars affect the environment.”

“Men, on the other hand tend, to be more preoccupied with gadgets, engine size and how fast the car gets from 0-100.”

Research shows that women account for the majority of car purchases and influence most car-purchasing decisions. In South Africa, 60 percent of new-car purchases are attributed to women and they are the major influence in another 20 percent.

Maybe it's time to start looking at hand-lotion, hair irons and rear-seat monitoring for next year's models.

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