The gender wars hit cars

The Gender Wars Hit Cars

Gender wars are everywhere. Would you believe, the collision of X and Y chromosomes has hit the roads to include car preference?

Based on the findings by AutoPacific, an automotive market research firm, males own about nine out of 10 heavy-duty pickup trucks on the road. Simply, 93 percent of the truck’s buyers are men. But women’s preference runs a bit more sophisticated. The firm said that female shoppers often choose Saturn, Honda and Volkswagen models.

Though car companies typically avoid making gender-specific vehicles, said Jim Hossick, the vice president and senior consultant at AutoPacific, “some cars are more masculine or feminine by nature.”

Male-friendly cars include the Ford F-350 and the Dodge Ram, of which men own 93 percent and 89 percent, respectively. Chrysler spokesperson Dan Bodene said it is a combination of marketing and design that has created such disproportionate numbers.

“It depends on the model, but the Ram tends to be used by guys who need the capability, either as heads of households hauling a lot of stuff, or on job sites in male-dominated professions,” said Bodene.

Meanwhile, AutoPacific’s data shows brands such as Hummer, Dodge, Porsche and GMC are most popular among men, models produced by Saturn, Honda, Volkswagen and Hyundai are the biggest hits with female drivers.

An estimated 65 percent of Volkswagen Beetle Convertible shoppers belong to the Y chromosome. To stress, the New Beetle, with a 5-cylinder engine, is approaching a decade of production. The car was introduced to the market in 2003.

Keith Price, a VW spokesperson, acknowledged that the New Beetle is purchased and driven more by females, but added it was not a result of designers trying to make a women’s car.

“It happened more organically,” said Price, explaining that the car was initially launched to have dual appeal. After the New Beetle had been out for a few years, and sales data started piling up, the automaker’s marketers then found ways to take advantage from its attractiveness among women. Chic styling and more feminine colors such as “gecko green” and “sunflower yellow” were offered.

Price added: “The female appeal of the car is one of the things that has sustained it over the years without a great deal of aesthetic change, but VW does absolutely not consider it ‘a woman’s car.’”

The idea of a “female” car has become long obsolete. “People who have tried to make a vehicle that is female-centric have failed,” said Hossick. “Women might buy a ‘man’s’ vehicle, but men won’t buy a ‘women’s’ car.”

The most famous attempt was the Dodge LaFemme, intended to capitalize on the growing interest in auto ownership among women in the early 1950s. The car sported pink upholstery patterned with rosebuds and came with a matching purse, raincoat and umbrella, reported ABC News. It was set with lipstick holders and painted a new shade, called Heather Rose.

The maker of Dodge alternators gave it a 218hp V8 engine but the LaFemme only made it through a couple of years of production, with sales calculated at about 2,500.

“Women were generally offended by it, and men wouldn’t touch it with a stick,” noted Hossick. “If you can’t sell a car to boys and you can’t sell it to girls, then the market is going to be pretty small.”

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