Porsche 911 S 2.7 (1974)

Trends: Female Drivers Outnumber Male Counterparts

A few years ago, the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found that there had been a sharp decline amongst the number of teens and young adults of both sexes with driver’s licenses. The study found that, between 1995 and 2010, the decline was greater for young men. The number of men between the ages of 25 to 29 years old had fallen 10.6 percent while the amount of women had only declined by 4.7 percent.

Now, a new analysis conducted by California-based consulting firm Frost & Sullivan has found that women are eclipsing men in holding driver licenses.

For the first time ever, female driving license holders have tipped the balance at 51 percent in the US. And this is not just among the younger age groups, but consistently across all ages greater than 25.

Canada and the UK are set to follow by 2016, with the former already very close to having a majority of women with driving licenses. In Canada, the ratio of licenses granted to women is currently 49.95 percent.

In the UK new driving license applications for men are declining whilst those for women have grown by 2.5 percent during last three years. The number of female driving licenses in Britain will reach parity with men within the next two to three years. Women are already making more trips and driving more mileage than men.

“Although it is hard to make predictions on trends related to car ownership, it is clear that 80 percent of car buying decisions are now influenced by women,” explains Frost & Sullivan’s Partner and Global Director Sarwant Singh. “When buying a new car, women are practical, but they also tend to associate the purchase with aspirations of freedom and independence.”

This will mean that all car categories will be more personalized and we will see more customized small city cars. At the same time, there are trends seeing expansion to segments traditionally dominated by men: SUVs and luxury cars.

“Women prefer small and more maneuverable vehicles, but they also give importance to design, spaciousness, safety, quality of materials, color and sustainability,” explains Singh. “They like options like park assist, clear lighting for petrol, easy access, integrated systems for mobile devices and entertainment.”

“We are convinced that in a few years women will favor cars with advanced systems such as autonomous driving, digital assistants and other health, wellness and well-being features,” Singh added.

Women tend to base their purchasing decision on the status of the car itself or associated values such as comfort and color. When it comes to volume brands, women are less likely to associate themselves with a brand, model or car variant (hatchback or sedan, for example).

Luxury brands, however, are a different story with women revealing themselves to be much more susceptible than men to those endorsed by celebrities. There are many interesting factors that are accelerating this trend.

“There are more women in education today than men in both the developed and BRIC countries (with the exception of India),” confirms Singh.

Furthermore “the pay parity between men and women is decreasing. There are more women with jobs, and even in a developing market like India, this is accelerating rapidly. Finally, the number of women millionaires, and their presence in the world’s rich list, is also growing exponentially.”

How the empowerment of women is transforming the future automotive industry will be one of the key trends that will dominate Frost & Sullivan’s annual workshop ‘Urban Mobility 3.0: Future of Mobility and New Mobility Business Models’. A new analysis on women and cars will be launched during the event that will take place on June 25th, 2014 at the Honourable Artillery Company in London.

As has been the case in the past, this one-day workshop will focus on emerging trends that are to shape the auto industry and our lives behind the wheel during the coming years.


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