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Will the Auto Industry Finally Focus on Women?

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The world of cars is constantly changing. To bring as many potential buyers into dealership showrooms as possible, it looks as if the industry might look to a powerful part of the population it usually ignores – women.

A recent ABC News report says that women purchase 62 percent of the new cars sold today. Even if they aren’t signing the paperwork, they influence up to 85 percent of total car sales.

University of Michigan professor Erik Gordon told ABC News earlier this month “The industry has been slow to recognize the buying power of women. Why? Because the industry has been run by men and car guys.”

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For the industry to focus on women will be a huge tonal shift for them, especially since the world of cars has done so much to ignore them in the past. For example, a recent University of Virginia study has found that women are more likely to be injured or killed in a car accident. While this is for a variety of factors (and no clear answer has been pinned down), part of the issue could because the industry only started including female crash test dummies in its studies in 2011.

This is not the first time that we have wondered if the auto industry might decide to cater to women. A few years ago, we thought it might be throwing us a bone by featuring attractive male actors like Kit Harrington and Tom Hiddleston in its ads. Since then, there have been a few instances of companies putting it on the line to support women (like commercials to support women driving in Saudi Arabia), but is it truly enough? Mary Barra remains the only female head of a major automaker, and there is little indication of a new woman CEO on the horizon.

On the customer side, ABC News reports that women are part of the crossover-buying wave. However, but they also still prefer sedans, which automakers are eliminating in favor of more profitable trucks and larger vehicles. Besides the automakers themselves, car dealerships will also need to change to cater to women and make them feel comfortable, considering many women will bring male friends or relatives with them to buy because they fear being cheated because of their gender.

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They say that necessity is the mother of invention, so as new car sales shrink, it will be interesting to see what automakers finally start catering to women as true forces in the industry – and what happens to those who don’t.

News Source: ABC News