Move over muscle cars: Detroit auto show targets the 'she-conomy'


Two moms shared a guffaw recently at the Detroit auto show’s GMC exhibit, a s ce that time again brings to mind macho trucks and SUVs.

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

Later, Reiss remarked to Emsley that the high-gloss write finis to 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 non-standard like like the kind of auto-industry chatter one might expect at the North American Foreign Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

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

Scotty Reiss and GM's Mary Barra

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

The decoration 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 authority holders.

“Women are buying cars or making the major purchasing decisions in 85 per cent of car sales,” Reiss explained afterward, citing figures from General Motors consumer scrutinize.

The female frontier

Only about four years ago, Reiss translated, she might expect to be rt of the 30 to 40 per cent of women turn up ating the Detroit auto show.

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

NAIAS spokesperson Max Muncey signified the Detroit show does not conduct any gender-targeted advertising, nor does it monitor attendees by gender.

But in 2014, Ford identified “The Female Frontier” as a Top 10 micro-trend, honouring the growing purchasing power of women. Among millennials, Ford bring about that females were actually overtaking male buyers, make tracking up 53 per cent of the market for that demographic.

Even dealerships are changing up their occu tion. Lexus has begun serving up healthier snacks to target female fellows, and one Miami Lexus dealership offers s treatments, manicures and yoga.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Female-focused features

Chevrolet Camaro

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

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

” rtners are a little more pragmatic. So they’re looking at things like sanctuary, price, fuel economy — things that make a favourable purchasing decision,” she said.

That often means cut in hybrids and green cars.

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

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

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

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

Chrysler cifica hybrid minivan

The Chrysler cifica is a hybrid minivan encom ssing a multitude 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 upon women, especially moms. (Evan Sears/

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

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

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

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

“A handbag in a car can be a really dangerous thing when it hold ones horses awakens in the ssenger’s seat,” she said, noting that they can appropriate for projectiles in the event of a high-speed crash.

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

Reiss has actively followed the careers of prominent female activity leaders like GMC’s Emsley. Another is General Motors CEO Mary Barra, who was chairman of the GMC directorship 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 hands are female, according to the North American Dealers Association.

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