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Why Aren't Women Buying Cars From Detroit?

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Detroit, we have a problem -- in fact, we have two.

Everyone knows that younger consumers are ambivalent about owning cars. That's an obstacle that automakers around the globe are trying to overcome. But Detroit's Big Three have an additional hurdle: women don't care much for them, either.

According to Detroit News, women are more likely than men to look down on domestic brands. Though the reasons for that mindset aren't clear, women seem to have concerns about the quality and prestige of vehicles from Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. 


The bad news for the Big Three is that roughly 39% of new cars sold are sold to women -- a figure that's ticking up about half a percentage point each year. (Among minority shoppers, the number creeps closer to 50%.) And even when a man's name appears on a vehicle's registration, there's a good chance that a woman had a hand in picking out the car: women influence 80% of today's auto purchases. 

Making things worse is the fact that more women in the U.S. have driver's licenses than men. And that trend doesn't show any sign of reversing.

Research firm R.L. Polk recently looked at sales data to determine which brands were popular among female shoppers. The top spot went to MINI, which sells nearly 49% of its cars to women. Kia, Nissan, Honda, and Fiat rounded out the top five. No domestic automaker broke the top ten, and only Buick fared better than the industry average.

(To be fair, some brands like Ford are at a disadvantage on surveys like this because they sell huge volumes of pickup trucks, which are disproportionately favored by men. However, even with truck sales factored out of the equation, Detroit still trails its foreign rivals in selling to female shoppers.)  

The good news? Perception of U.S. brands may be changing. For many years, Asian and European autos have dominated domestics in terms of overall quality, reliability, and fuel economy. While those marques are still in the lead, the latest rankings from J.D. Power indicate that the playing field is becoming much more level.

There's no overnight fix for this problem (though Isaac Mizrahi tried with the Chevy Malibu, bless his heart). It will take a lot of work on Detroit's part to boost reliability, improve public opinion, and solicit input from female shoppers to make vehicles more attractive to them.

[h/t John Voelcker]


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Comments (3)
  1. Because women believe Consumers Report.

  2. In the study some of the most unreliable are desired by women like,Mini,Fiat,,Jaguar and Mercedes.The most desirable brand for women is Landrover which is the least reliable vehicle so perception of prestige and reliability does not meet fact's.In Housewives of Atlanta ,Beverly Hill's,NY ,New Jersey etc the car most often driven is a Range Rover.Maybe GM need's to lend those show's some Buick Enclaves and Escalades .American brands need to get handbag and shoe designer's to do there interior's. I believe if Christian Loubouton did a car it would be a hit and the one good thing women are easier to change opinion's then men.

  3. I'll give you another reason, the dang dealers are still "old school". My Sister and her husband went car shopping for a new one for her to drive. They made this clear, too. Every one of the Detroit company dealers always talked to her husband, not her. They almost totally ignored her. The foreign ones, and Carmax too, talked to her, answered her questions and treated her as the primary buyer and user of the car they were looking to buy.
    Detroit dealers are still a haven for the old time "women know nothing about cars" salesmen. All they were missing was the checked pants and white belt.

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