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

nissan_concierge

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

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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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Why shouldn’t women have their own Haynes Car DIY manual?

haynes car DIYCaroline Lake is a female mechanic whose new book, the Haynes Women’s Car DIY Manual will help more of us develop a better understanding of car maintenance.

Caroline runs her own garage called Caroline’s Cars in Norfolk, delivers regular workshops about car maintenance and has written this book to empower more women.

“Women shouldn’t be scared to take their car for a service, but the patronising and intimidating environment of many garages makes them an uncomfortable place for women to be.

“Men make up around 99% of staff and will often use jargon that can make women feel uncomfortable, so they are understandably keen to get out as quickly as possible and don’t feel in control of the decisions they make, which can prove costly.

“We’ve all heard stories of garages pouncing on this vulnerability and charging women more because they know they can get away with it and those sorts of practices have to stop.

“I want this book to not only give women the power to make educated and informed decisions about their cars, but to also get their hands dirty and get under the bonnet.

“Cars aren’t rocket science and it is about time that women realised that they have all the necessary skills to do it well, but they are discouraged from entering the profession.

“I had to work for four years as an unpaid tea girl before I was given the chance to work under the bonnet, and I was only the sixth woman to qualify as an MoT tester in the UK back in 2003, so I’m hoping my book can start a revolution and change attitudes in the industry.”

Well done Caroline.

The Haynes Women’s Car DIY Manual provides advice on all areas of owning, maintaining and caring for your car, with colour step-by-step photos showing how to carry out general procedures. It also explains what goes on with servicing and MoTs, showing you how to save money and learn more about your car by tackling some of the jobs yourself, and providing you with the knowledge and confidence to deal with your local garage.

The detail: This manual was published by Haynes on 4th September 2014; ISBN: 9780857334077; RRP: £21.99.

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When your car reaches the end of its working life…

Old-Car.jpg-blogIt’s a sad moment when a cherished family car finally reaches the end of its economic life.

The MOT tester rubs his chin and shakes his head. He finds it hard to tell you there’s no way it’s going to make financial sense to keep it alive. It’s probably too old to be worth much, even if you could part exchange it…

Its next destination is evident – it’s heading for The Great Car Park in the Sky. In other words, the scrap yard, or scrap car recycling centre as they’re called these days.

You Can Scrap Your Car Online

However, the good news is that the process of scrapping your car has improved beyond recognition in recent years. Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s when scrap metal prices were low you generally had to nurse your ailing vehicle to a scrap yard and enter into negotiations with the owner – an experience which could feel intimidating for a woman on her own.

Now however sorting out your scrap car can be done from the comfort of your own home by going online. By entering your car registration number and postcode into the CarTakeBack.com website you’ll be given an instant online quote with the option of either delivering your car to the recycling centre or having it collected. Prices range between £100-£300 depending on the type of car and its location.

Make a Clean Break

We all know how messy splitting up can be – and how important it is to make a clean break. It’s exactly the same when it comes to scrapping your car. When a car is scrapped the DVLA needs to be notified using a Certificate of Destruction (CoD) which can only be issued by scrap car recycling centres known as Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATFs).

Avoid Dodgy Dealers

It’s important to avoid dodgy dealers when scrapping your car. They can offer unrealistically high amounts for your scrap car – but then drop their offer dramatically on collection. Since the Scrap Metal Dealers’ Act of 2013 it’s been illegal to pay cash for scrap cars in England and Wales, so if anyone offers to do this it’s a red alert.

Remember Recycling

We’re all so used to separating out our household rubbish so that paper and glass can be recycled and other items properly disposed of. It’s even more important to make sure that scrap cars are disposed of correctly. If not, hazardous materials such as oil and batteries can end up damaging the environment. You should only scrap your car at a recycling centre with an ATF Licence – the licence requires businesses to invest substantially in the necessary equipment and buildings required to recycle cars properly.

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guestblogThis is a Guest Blog from CarTakeBack.com, the biggest scrap car recycling company in the UK and has a nationwide network of recycling centres which are all fully licensed and have a secure electronic link to the DVLA database meaning that they can both promptly contact the DVLA on your behalf and provide you with a CoD.

NB: Customers that scrap their cars through CarTakeBack are entered in a prize draw to win a new Mitsubishi Mirage worth £10,999.

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Farewell to a windscreen friend

jude-currie-3If women drivers don’t renew their car tax on time, from October onwards, they could receive a fine of up to £1000.

We all know the law requires us to apply for car tax even if there’s no cost, as in the case of a classic car or one that is SORN registered. And that in the past too many tax evaders have been able to rely on the rest of us to fund their share of the UK motoring bill.

Happily this is something the government is finally getting to grips with.

But there are some implications for the rest of us here. For example, we mightn’t have to display a tax disc on our windscreen after October 2014 but this doesn’t mean that if we tax our car a bit late that we’ll get away with this as might have been the case in the past.

From October 2014 the DVLA is not only saving taxpayers the expense of printing and posting these tax discs but it seems to be spending time and resources more effectively to catch more motorists driving untaxed vehicles by using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras.

These are the significant points we’ve gleaned and interpreted on your behalf.

Be sure to read number 10 in case you can help any motorists you know who aren’t online…

1 The DVLA might write to remind you to renew your car tax but there’s no nagging windscreen date reminder any more. So best to do it there and then…

2 If your car isn’t taxed on time (for whatever so-called plausible reason) and you drive it, you are likely to receive an automatic fine.

3 The fine for driving an untaxed vehicle could be as much as £1000. In some circumstances even more as it can be up to 5 times the cost of your car’s annual tax…)

4 It’s quick and easy to tax your vehicle online using the 16 digit reference code from your vehicle tax renewal reminder (V11) or 11 digit reference number from your log book (V5C).

5 If you (or a car dealer) sell a car, it’s up to you to tell the DVLA before you hand over the keys to a new owner. You will then receive a refund of any full months’ unspent tax

6 If you buy a car, it’s up to you to tax it before you drive it away. Much as you do with insurance. NB: Remember to allow more time than before for the car seller to tell the DVLA before you’ll be able to tax it in your name. We predict delays here…

7 If you hire a car or need to check if a car you drive is taxed (for any reason or concern) you can do so via the Vehicle Enquiry Service www.vehicleenquiry.service.gov.uk/.

8 If you move house and forget to tell the DVLA, or their reminder letter goes astray, it’s likely still your fault if you don’t pay your VED on time. We are all expected to know when our car tax expires. NB: The DVLA works with debt collection services so tax evaders will be found…

9 It makes compelling financial sense to set up diary reminders and an automatic Direct Debit Instruction to pay non-negotiable motoring essentials like your car tax. Then you can forget about this when you’re on holiday, working away from home perhaps or during other domestic distractions.

10 If a member of the family or a neighbour drives but isn’t web savvy, why not offer to help them tax their vehicle online?

For more information visit the website https://www.gov.uk/government/news/vehicle-tax-changes

Someone who doesn’t want this to happen is Jude Currie who collects car tax badges… As in the photograph, courtesy of Confused.com.

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