At Detroit's auto show, industry offers more of what women want


Two moms split a laugh recently at the Detroit auto show’s GMC exhibit, a s ce that on numerous occasions brings to mind macho trucks and SUVs.

“I love this charger,” Scotty Reiss admitted GMC’s head of design, Helen Emsley, lifting a cap from a power loophole in the backseat of a 2017 Acadia Denali. “When I go somewhere, I can push in a flat iron and do my hair!”

Later, Reiss remarked to Emsley that the high-gloss let go on the mid-size SUV’s grill gave off a “David Yurman feel,” invoking the prestige of a jewelry designer known for his signature bracelets.

Quips about haircare and jewelry may not look as if like the kind of auto-industry chatter one might expect at the North American Intercontinental Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

But Reiss, editor of, remembers her motor vehicles. Another thing she knows is this: her opinion quantities, rticularly as a vast majority of car-buying decisions are now being led by women.

Scotty Reiss and GM's Mary Barra

Scotty Reiss, leader-writer of, is shown with GM CEO and chairman Mary Barra at the North American Universal Auto Show in Detroit. A 2014 survey showed that the digit of women drivers in the U.S. has sur ssed that of men for the first time. (Provided/Scotty Reiss/

The figure is only trending upward, as a June 2014 Frost & Sullivan study found female drivers in the U.S. had, for the first time, sur ssed male authorization holders.

“Women are buying cars or making the major purchasing sentences in 85 per cent of car sales,” Reiss said afterward, citing individuals from General Motors consumer research.

The female frontier

Exclusively about four years ago, Reiss said, she might expect to be leave of the 30 to 40 per cent of women attending the Detroit auto entertainment.

“Now it’s about 50-50,” she estimated. “And many of the women attending are actively affianced.”

NAIAS spokesperson Max Muncey said the Detroit show does not out any gender-targeted advertising, nor does it track attendees by gender.

But in 2014, Ford pinpointed “The Female Frontier” as a Top 10 micro-trend, recognizing the growing purchasing power of abigails. Among millennials, Ford found that females were in point of fact overtaking male buyers, making up 53 per cent of the market for that demographic.

Out dealerships are changing up their game. Lexus has begun serving up healthier refreshments to target female customers, and one Miami Lexus dealership offers s treatments, manicures and yoga.


The 2017 GMC Acadia Denali is one of channel reviewers have dubbed ‘mom-friendly.’ (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

NAIAS may cific seem like a male-dominated industry showcase, but automakers are ying notice to changing gender dynamics, with analysts seeing clues on the showroom deck.

“You’re seeing a lot of crossover SUVs here,” said Edmunds auto energy analyst Jessica Caldwell while attending the auto show.

“The Chevy Burn out is a small car, but it sits up a little bit higher and that’s to target the buyer who lacks that little bit more of a command view of the road.”

The Chrysler cifica could also draw more female ticket-holders, too, especially those who might be attending the auto bear out as an educational or shopping opportunity.

“That’s a minivan hybrid, so again, profuse of a family vehicle that perhaps women with families would be looking at,” Caldwell said.

Female-focused quirks

Chevrolet Camaro

General Motors CEO Mary Barra sits in a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro. The auto activity is increasingly catering to women, focusing on more pragmatic features as if safety, price and fuel economy. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Beseech)

Caldwell said she thinks it makes sense to go after household decision-makers.

“Little women are a little more pragmatic. So they’re looking at things like safe keeping, price, fuel economy — things that make a respectable purchasing decision,” she said.

That often means persuade in hybrids and green cars.

A common feature Caldwell comes across in her inspection about female drivers is “ride height,” which fors the feeling of being in more control for those sitting a little bit uncountable elevated.

Safety, or at least the perception of safety, is also a key selling prong as women who wield more influence over household car-buying purposes.

While market research shows men continue to be interested in technology, display and luxury, women are more likely to prioritize value, practicality and guaranty, according to the automotive research com ny Kelley Blue Book.

Jennifer Geiger, collaborator managing editor with, noticed more family-oriented invent in Detroit as well. In her mind, two highlights at the NAIAS were the GMC Acadia and the Chrysler cifica, both of which force been dubbed by reviewers as “mom-friendly.”

Chrysler cifica hybrid minivan

The Chrysler cifica is a hybrid minivan encom ssing a few of family-oriented design details. (Evan Sears/

Optional vacuum in the Chrysler cifica

The Chrysler cifica minivan comprises an optional vacuum cleaner, a design consideration that is winning settled women, especially moms. (Evan Sears/

The Chrysler cifica minivan incorporates an optional vacuum cleaner, for example, and is easier for children to step into.

“Old men will also appreciate you can have a forward-facing [baby] car seat instated and still move the seat forward and get back to the third row,” Geiger indicated.

Though Geiger noted the GMC Acadia still brings a “masculine” sense, a few other design considerations are winning over women, rticularly moms.

While appearing in the back of an Acadia Denali SUV with GMC’s Emsley, Reiss commented on the penthouse flooring — well-suited for placing a purse in the backseat. Good storage for handbags is an oft-overlooked desideratum in cars, she said.

“A handbag in a car can be a really dangerous thing when it stand ins in the ssenger’s seat,” she said, noting that they can adorn come of projectiles in the event of a high-speed crash.

“Where you stick your handbag in your car is an vital decision and it’s a conversation women continually have that men never extraordinarily think about.”

Reiss has actively followed the careers of prominent female persistence leaders like GMC’s Emsley. Another is General Motors CEO Mary Barra, who was chairman of the GMC committee earlier this month.

Still, she notes that the percentage of female hands in the auto sector fails to reflect consumer trends. Only 17 per cent of auto-industry workers are female, according to the North American Dealers Association.

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