Fuel forecourt fiascos: female vs male drivers

Motorist filling up - close upI’m not at all surprised that men are more likely than women to run out of fuel and to fill up with the wrong sort.

We hear of this happening a lot so if you were to put the wrong fuel ie petrol in a diesel car here is some useful information to help you know what is the best thing to do.

Fuelling the battle of the sexes?

When it comes to the battle of the sexes there are two motoring awards that few men want to win, namely that of running out of fuel and putting the wrong type of fuel in their car.

Yet one in five (23%) – or an estimated 6.6m – UK motorists* admit to having run out of fuel at least once and more than a fifth (ie 22%) more men than women say they have fallen foul of an empty tank.

Of those who were left high and dry after ‘playing fuel roulette’ and losing, the majority ie 61% were men.

Happily, three quarters of us all claim never to have been caught out here, yet once again men are likely to be repeat offenders even if the statistics are small – 6% of men have run out of fuel more than once compared to 4%.

Not just that but research from the RAC** reveals that men are more likely than women to put the wrong type of fuel into their tank on a forecourt with 13% of men saying they have done so in contrast to 8% of women.

Just for the record, last year the RAC dealt with more than 22,000 ‘out of fuel’ incidents and a further 30,000 ‘misfuellings’ on average.

The ‘fuelish’ gender risk

Why do men seem to relish risking running out of fuel more than women? Why are they more likely to fill up with the wrong stuff? Maybe it’s down to their testosterone levels, a strong sense of misplaced confidence (I’m sure I can make it to the next forecourt) or their much reported inability to multi-task (such as adding fuel whilst thinking)? Only joking about the last one guys ;).

One thing is for certain, the number of ‘running out of fuel’ incidents increases when fuel prices are rising, suggesting that too many motorists are trying to make it to the nearest filling station with the lowest prices, regardless of gender.

RAC Technical Director David Bizley reminds us that running out of fuel and misfuelling can be seriously more ‘costly’ mistake to make in the end.

“Running out of fuel can result in motorists being stranded in dangerous places on the road and misfuelling can be very expensive, particularly if a vehicle suffers damage as a result of the wrong fuel being sent around the system.

“More than one in 10 people surveyed say they have run out of fuel on the motorway, putting themselves in a very dangerous situation unnecessarily.

“The best advice is always to ensure you have the right amount of fuel for the journey ahead. If you are on a long motorway journey, it’s a good idea to fill up at the nearest services, rather than risking waiting for the one after, running out completely and ruining your journey.”

Personally I can’t understand why anyone risks running out of fuel. Why not fill up at the right price when the vehicle is half full, not nearly empty? No difference to my fuel bills, just my peace of mind and potentially my road safety too as worrying about fuel levels is bound to affect my driving concentration.

FOXY Steph

*The one in five (23%) figure based on number of people who admit to running out of fuel once or more has then been extrapolated and based on 29.1m UK drivers (Vehicle Licensing Statistics 2013).

**This research was carried out among 1,463 UK drivers as part of a bespoke RAC Opinion Panel during May 2014.

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Girls Go Technical with BMW

girls go techie apprenticeRecent research I was involved in confirms that girls who like to know how things work, enjoy fixing things, doing the equivalent of mental crosswords and restoring order where there has been chaos, often make excellent technicians.

Add to this the fact that as many girls as boys are demonstrating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) talents at GCSE level and you’ll understand why BMW is actively courting girls and encouraging them to go techie rather than head off towards stereotypically more female friendly industries like health, beauty and fashion.

So much so that young females aged between 15 and 24 are invited to follow MINI production from body panels to engine building culminating in a completed car rolling off the line on BMW UK’s 2014 Girls Go Technical programme.

Participating females are encouraged to consider a technical career within automotive manufacturing and the BMW programme will run from Monday 27 October to Friday 31 October at Birmingham, Oxford and Swindon production plants.

Simon Farrall, Head of Apprentice and Associate Training at BMW Group UK said:

“The automotive industry is still seen as a more appropriate career path for boys so this programme is designed to address this inequality of opportunity to attract more girls to consider a technical career in this field.

“On completion of the programme, the participants will have gained an insight into the manufacturing processes and experienced the day-to-day challenges encountered by engineers and technical apprentices.”

What the programme includes

Selected females will spend four days at the heart of MINI and BMW’s UK production network including time at the manufacturing site closest to their home region for in-depth work experience as well as time at MINI Plant Oxford where they will see MINIs being built.  

All participants will have the opportunity to take part in activities in the Oxford plant’s bespoke training school featuring state-of-the-art classrooms, dedicated computer study areas and a fully-equipped workshop.

“Working in the car manufacturing industry is an absolutely amazing experience”, said Rebecca Pallet, a current apprentice at MINI Plant Oxford. “I’ve always wanted to be able to build cars and with BMW Group’s support I can now pursue my dreams. I hope my example will encourage other girls to apply for our apprenticeship programme.”

Now in its second year, the Girls Go Technical programme is a part of the annual UK government-industry initiative “See Inside Manufacturing.”

Entry criteria and the application process

The entry criteria for the programme are four GCSEs at grade A-C to include Maths, English and one science subject and predicted grades will be accepted.

Applications can be made online at: http://www.facebook.com/BmwCareersUK

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Stars among the best used cars

car-keys-dealer-handoverEvery year something like seven million used cars change owners via car showrooms compared to a mere 2.5 million-ish new car sales. That’s a lot!

And with high complaint levels, it’s important to know the ‘best’ used cars to buy, to avoid the many lemons out there.

So where better to look than the What Car Used Car of the Year 2014 Awards at The Hurlingham Club recently, attended by all major vehicle manufacturers, naming their 13 outstanding category winners.

WhatCar works with the Trusted Dealers network who sign up to certain standards to give used car buyers peace of mind. NB: This is one of our minimum standards at our new FOXY Lady Approved used car network.

This year’s overall winner is the Ford Focus 1.6 105 Zetec which we rate highly.

Others include the Hyundai 1.2 Comfort (city car), Ford Fiesta 1.25 Zetec (smaller than the Focus) and the Lexus IS220d SE (executive car). The Mazda MX-5 2.0 Sport scooped the fun car award (no surprises there) and the Citroën Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 HDi VTR+ was voted the best MPV (again, spot on).

What Car? Used Car of the Year Awards 2014 category winners

Overall winner – Ford Focus 1.6 105 Zetec 5dr ’11/11
City car – Hyundai i10 1.2 Comfort ’10/10
Coupé – Volkswagen Scirocco 1.4 TSI 160 ’09/09
Estate car – Ford Mondeo Estate 2.0 TDCi 140 Zetec ’10/10
Executive car – Lexus IS220d SE ’10/10
Family car – Ford Focus 1.6 105 Zetec 5dr ’11/11
Fun car – Mazda MX-5 2.0 Sport ’09/09
Large SUV – Volvo XC90 2.4 D5 SE Lux ’10/60
Luxury car – Jaguar XJ 3.0D V6 Luxury ’11/11
MPV – Citroën Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 HDi VTR+ ’10/10
Open-top car – BMW 3 Series Convertible 320d SE ’09/09
Small car – Ford Fiesta 1.25 Zetec 5dr ’09/09
Small SUV – Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi Acenta ’10/10

Always a tough choice, by all means tell us if you think there’s a make or a model missing here…

NB: No Toyota, Honda, Vauxhall, Audi or Mercedes-Benz?

And if you’d like to know which cars other women rate, here are FOXY’s car reviews written by and for women drivers.

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A Ladies First female friendly dealership concept

nissan_ladies_firstEarlier this year Frost & Sullivan research confirmed that women drivers will soon outnumber men on UK roads as they have done in the USA. It’s a simple case of demographics and the fact that younger women expect to drive cars for the rest of their lives, compared to older pre Baby Boomer females who were rarely expected to drive or never got round to it.

Their new research tells us what women are looking for from our cars and how different manufacturers are addressing this gender opportunity.

Apparently women want intuitive vehicle controls, automatic assist features, integrated technology and a quiet, comfortable and plush cabin.

In response, the 2014 Mercedes S Class features a host of female-oriented options including a perfume atomiser, an ionising air system and an absence of plastic. The new Porsche Macan – aimed at women – has almost endless options for personalisation.

Ford’s automatic boot opener and its advert portraying a woman using her stiletto to activate this was such a success it resulted in high sales of the Ford Kuga and apparently BMW then copied the feature and the advert (which I clearly missed…).

Female friendly car dealerships


But now the gender battleground is shifting to car dealerships. Nissan has come out as the first car company that plans to revamp 300 of their dealerships in Japan, tailoring them to women.

Called the “Ladies First” project, Nissan has opened a pilot in the Tokyo suburb of Fuchu. Managed by women and manned by women, it aims to make the car shopping experience much more female friendly.

These dealerships will be modern, serene and with a team of female concierges providing child care during appointments. Female mechanics will avoid unnecessary techno-speak and Nissan wants to see a minimum of 50 percent of sales and retail teams across the globe to be women.

Their research confirms that 80 percent of women going to a car dealer want to have a woman sales person. As the saying goes (more in Japan than the UK I think), “Happy wife, happy life…”

Those of you familiar with the FOXY formula will know of our FOXY Lady Approved female friendly garage and car dealer network doing a similar job but monitoring dealership performance as an independent brand.

Whereas efforts towards this sort of workforce diversity will take many years to come to fruition, Ghosn has established a system called “fJury” (female jury), where a panel of women provide feedback and approve every stage of any new vehicle design process.

From Germanic macho to mumsy…

At long last BMW has been forced to look at their largely successful “ultimate driving machine” marketing slogan. They realised it worked with mostly male piston heads, but something far more sophisticated was needed to capture a new female consumer. So the “Joy” campaign was born??? Going from taglines such as “Fasterpiece” to “Joy is Maternal” is supposed to bring a different feel to the brand.

As a 5’3” female driving a BMW that was clearly designed for a taller man (and who is unlikely to buy another one) I think they need to build cars for females first, not just give their campaigns frilly monnikers.

Female staff in the motor industry

Major auto makers are now putting women at the head of vehicle design and roll out in these key future markets. For example, Lamborghini’s trim and colour assembly team is 75 percent female, and BMW has an all-female team of engineers working on product development for the BMWi user interface.

For the auto industry the female consumer has thrown the innovation race wide open and there are many yet to come to the party. The question is will manufacturers develop and launch vehicles specifically designed for women, or will they customize cars for both sexes.

The female business case should make that an easy answer.

FOXY Steph


This blog came out of an interesting article published by Forbes and written by Olivia Price Walker, Senior Consultant and author of Frost & Sullivan’s “Women in Cars; Changing Auto Industry Dynamics.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/sarwantsingh/2014/08/28/will-cars-of-the-future-be-designed-for-women-only/

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Ignorance of the legal limit claim women drivers

breathalyserIn 2013 more than 800 women drivers failed a breathalyser test after an accident. That’s the ones that got caught – clearly not all the females that do this.

Simply because they were unable to say no to either drinking alcohol or driving afterwards.

Could you live with the potential consequences of this?

Last year Henrietta Fearon (not as pictured), 34, drove to her £585,000 London home after drinking Pimm’s and wine during a birthday party at The Rose pub in Fulham. A witness spotted her stumbling into her black Mini outside and she was later arrested by police. She told officers: “I can’t believe this. I’ve made a big mistake.”

In a study by car insurance company Direct Line, the number of women accounting for drink-drive convictions had risen from nine per cent in 1998 to 17% by 2012. And nearly one in five females believed they had driven while over the legal limit during the past year.

As many as 60 per cent of the women polled in the survey – which was also carried out by transport organisation the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund – said they did not know the legal limit and in almost all cases, respondents felt they were personally able to drink more alcohol than the “average woman” before they were over the legal limit.

I can’t understand how any woman driver could say she doesn’t know what the legal limit is (without finding out), that she would try to justify this after potentially being involved in an accident or that she’d think it would be fine if she just drove carefully…

And I’m speechless about the 59 per cent majority who drove after consuming alcohol because they felt “okay” to drive.

Road safety minister Robert Goodwill said: “Drink-driving wrecks lives, and the personal consequences of a drink-drive conviction can be devastating.”

plans2gethomeI know I run a motoring club for women but I am deeply disturbed and disappointed that my gender would act so irresponsibly and forget that we are supposed to be (or used to be) the statistically safer drivers.

Nobody is above the law and ignorance is no excuse.

My advice is to add a ‘how am I going to get home’ check to your list before you head out for a night out, a drinks party or a social get together of any sort.

ALWAYS plan ahead and either book a taxi or take turns with your partner/friends to stay 100% sober and drive. Please make it a foxy rule to never, under any circumstances, agree to drive after consuming alcohol. Full stop.

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