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Which Sex Holds Keys to Auto Industry?

Are cars still a 'guy's thing?', new car purchase, prices . / Credit: New car buyer image via Shutterstock

The question of who drives a household's auto-buying decisions is a real battle of the sexes, a new study shows. A full 72 percent of men believe that they're the ones with the most influence, while 60 percent of women believe that they're in the driver's seat. Depending on how you look at it, both may be right.

U.S. auto owners have more agreement on who has the influence on specific aspects of the auto purchase, according to a survey of 5,000 automobile owners sponsored by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. Both sexes conceded dominance in matters under the hood to men, by an 85 to 47 percent margin.

When it comes to choosing vehicle options, both sexes believe that they have the edge: 70 percent of women and 60 percent of men say they each have the most influence on picking vehicle options.

"One of our industry's most daunting tasks is meeting the needs of such a wide range of consumers," said Alliance President and CEO Mitch Bainwol. "And this research shows why that can be such a complex process: there are a lot of different voices in so many households.  But what's especially impressive about this data is that it shows what a strong role women play in so many purchases."

The polling results also offer a glimpse into perceptions of how the different sexes interact with vehicles long after the consumer has driven off the showroom lot.  For example, 55 percent of those polled said women were more likely than men to purchase a navigation system to avoid getting lost; 48 percent believe that women use their turn signals more often than men; and 45 percent said that — generally speaking — women keep their cars cleaner than men do. 

The data also clearly indicate that cars are less and less of a "guy's thing." Women influence more than 85 percent of all car purchases, spend $300 billion on vehicles annually, and outnumber men in terms of having driver's licenses: 105.7 million women have driver's licenses, which is 1.4 million more than men, according to the book "Influence: How Women's Soaring Economic Power will Transform Our World for the Better" (Voice, 2010).

Women are also the fastest-growing segment of car buyers. Female millennials, ages 22 to 30, are outpacing their male counterparts by 20 percent in vehicle purchases.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.

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