Are women victims in car showrooms?

different_spinMaybe the automotive industry will read and react to the biggest survey so far into women’s perceptions of the car buying experience. But they haven’t got the message yet, hence this blog to help nudge this message further home.

Based on Mumsnet and Reevoo female customer data, this survey (by Good Rebels acting as Different-Spin.com) tells us what previous surveys have told us for ages – that women are critical customers for the automotive industry yet few manufacturers, dealer groups, garages or accident repairers are doing things well enough for us.

According to Good Rebels we are disenfranchised in this area. Yes, perhaps, but it’s an optional state of mind and if we want to do something about this we need to stand up for ourselves and be counted.

Which is what the not for profit FOXY Lady Drivers Club is all about of course, sharing feedback and handing out Red Cards as a last resort. I hate the very thought of women being victims here – or needing men to sort motoring matters out for us (which no woman does of course…).

Good Rebels research findings re women drivers

This research found..

+ 90 per cent of the women questioned would not visit a car dealership without a man in tow.
+ 56 per cent felt patronised by car advertising
+ 34 per cent felt that no car brand understands women

Looking for some good news, it seems that a few brands are deemed more female friendly than others but, in my experience, this doesn’t always carry itself into the dealership experience. Especially used car showrooms.

Hence the Good Rebels’ conclusions.

1/ It is time for the industry to start innovating.

2/ It is time for a consumer experience revolution in automotive.

Bring it on I say.

I’d then add

3/ It’s time to banish unfair haggling re car prices.

4/ It’s time for the industry to come together at the top to heal the bad image PR (like this and the perpetual proliferation of the male supremacy in all motoring and motortrade journalism) that makes women feel totally alienated from this shopping arena.

More women needed in the motor industry

But with an eye-watering statement at the IMI website over the weekend that only 2% of the motor industry workforce is female (even I was taken aback by this – can this possibly be true?) how can the motor industry in general be seen to represent its current and future VIP customers. And does it or the automotive press understand how they are making this worse by actively shoring up this boys car club?

When will the automotive industry start to heal itself here from the masculine Boardroom floors down?

I am writing this blog in my capacity as a consultant in this specialist area.

Steph Savill
stephsavill.co.uk

PS: I remain, as ever, resolutely enthusiastic about the future of the motor industry from a female perspective (it’s not as hard as it seems to remedy this) because benchmarking the genuinely female friendly businesses will surely lift the complacent laggards off the entry level floor. Or they’ll get left too far behind. And, trust me, there are many truly female friendly businesses out there, it’s just that they are not marketing themselves as the female choice.

PPS: If you’ve got this far, automotive businesses can buy this research. Let’s hope they do. And women can join FOXY Lady Drivers Club and help us get them (and more women) a better motoring deal in future.

How to be a better driver in Bristol

bristol IAM sflI’ve written before about my IAM Skill For Life Advanced Motoring course and how much I learned and have benefited since.

But I might have liked a choice of doing this on my own or as part of a group of like-minded others in the same boat.

And despite being happy with my 1:1 arrangement with a brilliant female Observer who has become a friend I might have chosen the latter for the camaraderie…

So I was delighted to meet Martin Evans at the IAM conference in Birmingham in October. Martin is the Secretary of Bristol Advanced Motorists where they organise precisely this group support for local motorists. And are catering for an equal spread of men and women as you can see from the photo.

Let’s start with the costs. The Skill For Life programme costs £149 and Club members get a 10% discount. This includes everything you need to take and pass the advanced driving test including as many 1:1 sessions with an Observer as necessary (usually 10-ish), local IAM support, 12 months IAM membership, the advanced test fee and the excellent ‘How to be a Better Driver’ handbook.

Bristol Advanced Motorists

Bristol Advanced Motorists organise courses where Skill For Life participants come together in a classroom situation to refresh and top up their motoring knowledge and driving skills. Having bought the Skill For Life package, this is free and here is how the group option works.

The course dates for 2016 MUST BE BOOKED IN ADVANCE and are as follows:
Wednesday 20 April
Wednesday 13 July
Wednesday 19 October

1/ Two seminars are held on a Wednesday evening in North Bristol.

2/ Skill For Life participants (called Associates from now on) are then allocated an Observer (from the gallery) to arrange as many drives as they need (within reason!) in preparation for the Advanced Test (which they may or may not take but will be encouraged to).

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3/ In a third seminar they ‘Meet An Examiner’ to get a better understanding of what is required and of course ask questions.

4/ In between all this most Associates arrange drives weekly or fortnightly and take between 6 and 12 observed drives spread over 3 – 6 months before they are ready for the test.

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With a 90% pass rate to be proud of and the recipient of the IAM Group Achievement award (out of 200 groups) at the 2015 conference this is a formula that works and is fun.

I wholeheartedly recommend this to this blog audience. And of course this option is equally available and beneficial to men and women alike.

FOXY Steph

For more information

Visit the IAM main website to buy Skill For Life from the Shop. NB: FOXY Club members get a 10% discount which they should book from within the Members Area of this website.

And if you live in Bristol, you can then visit the IAM Bristol website and book onto a course to suit, well in advance.

Pregnant Mums need to Check Car Tyres

tyres_pregnantAround 700,000 new babies will make their first solo journey home from hospital in 2016 having been car passengers inside Mum for the previous nine months.

By applying known tyre safety statistics here, something like one in four of these babies and Mums, during this lengthy period, could be travelling in cars that are potentially dangerous because their tyres haven’t been checked before or between MOTs.

This risk applies to all Mums and their children of course, not just pregnant ones, but with a new baby on their minds, it’s possible they might be thinking more about cots, prams and baby clothes than the road-worthiness of their everyday car?

And in case you are reading this in late stages of pregnancy, nobody has to do their own tyre checks because approved tyre professionals will do this for you, usually completely free, whether you’re male or female, pregnant or not!!

But pregnant Mums carry a particularly precious cargo so we recommend you get your tyres checked regularly during pregnancy. You can do this via a local TyreSafe retailer or via a tyre service that is FOXY Lady Approved as an added bonus.

Janine’s story

We’ll let Janine explain why this matters and why tyre safety will forever be at the top of her checklists in future.

Janine McCarthy had a miraculous escape after a defective tyre on her car rapidly deflated, causing her vehicle to spin out of control and crash into the central reservation on a busy motorway near her home. The car flipped six times before coming to a standstill and Janine thought she and her unborn baby were going to die.

“I could see on-coming traffic and I panicked, braking harder. It caused the car to tip and start to roll and smash into the central metal fencing. It was terrifying. Witnesses told me afterwards that the car smashed into the barrier, flew to the opposite barrier, and then rolled down into the middle of a field.

“When the car came to a standstill I was petrified that something had happened to my baby as I was nearly three months pregnant at the time and noticed blood.

“The emergency services told me they couldn’t believe I walked away from the crash alive.”

Amazingly Janine escaped the ordeal with minor cuts and bruises and her unborn baby was unscathed. She is looking forward to the birth of her baby in March but this experience has been life-changing for her.

Home safely on safe tyres

As a result, Janine is supporting TyreSafe’s new ‘Home Safely on Safe Tyres’ campaign by sharing her story so others might learn from this and not go through the same experience.

Her advice to other Mums? Add ‘CHECK TYRES’ to your pre-baby checklist and do this at the start of your pregnancy, not wait until you’re planning the hospital visit.

We say – make sure any ‘expectant’ Dad-in-waiting is aware of this too because it isn’t just women who can neglect this area.

And whilst ALL children are precious and we need our car tyres to be safe for ALL motorists, Janine’s story reminds us that when a Mum is pregnant, she and her car are carrying the life of another that is totally dependent on her for its life.

Thank goodness this story had a happy ending.

For further information on the ‘Home Safely on Safe Tyres’ campaign, view the accompanying animation.

What is the safest car in 2016?

With car safety at the top of so many car shopping lists we were eagerly awaiting the What Car? Safety Awards of 2016. We rate these awards highly because:

1/ They are the only ones to be independently selected by the experts at Thatcham Research, in conjunction with a hand-picked panel of safety authorities.

2/ Their safety shortlist is underpinned by a 5 star Euro NCAP rating indicating good performance in crash protection and well equipped with robust crash avoidance technology.

3/ Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) is a must for award winners and the judges give further credit for additional, innovative and unique safety equipment.

NB: AEB is a system to monitor the traffic conditions ahead and automatically brake the car in an emergency situation if the driver fails to respond. Rather than protecting the occupant in the event of a crash like the seatbelt and the airbag, AEB aims to prevent the crash happening in the first place avoiding all the associated misery and cost. It is also the sign of things to come – 37% of all new cars launched in 2015 have AEB available as standard (compared to a previous 17%) and another 36% as optional (compared to 24%).

4/ The price is a factor too whereby those manufacturers that make safety accessible to many not just a few are marked higher.

About Thatcham Research

In case you don’t know what they do, Thatcham Research is the motor insurers’ automotive research centre, researching, testing and providing insurers with a wealth of data on all new vehicles. The insurers can then rate risk more accurately. As the UK’s only accredited Euro NCAP crash test centre and one of the key overall contributors to the Euro NCAP consumer safety testing programme, Thatcham is ideally positioned to select Britain’s safest car.

The safest car award selection process

All seventeen award candidates were assessed as follows.

i/ They must have 5 star Euro NCAP star rating and standard fit Autonomous Emergency Braking on at least one trim level within the model range.

ii/ The Thatcham-assembled panel of experts all analyse each car’s adult, child and pedestrian protection scores from NCAP, assessing where and how effectively the AEB system worked and giving further credit for additional and unique safety equipment and innovation.

iii/ Cars are then marked down if safety kit was available on cars outside the UK but not in the UK.

iv/ Finally, a weighting was applied to do with the price of the vehicle in that competitively priced cars were rewarded (more than expensive ones) for bringing safety to more buyers.

Who are the What Car? Safety Award Winners?

XC90The Overall Winner was the Volvo XC90. With Volvo’s long standing reputation you’d expect them to be a contender for any safety award, however the XC90 in particular has proved to be head and shoulders above the rest with its high levels of active and passive safety making it Euro NCAP’s highest scoring car ever.

Evidently Volvo has raised the bar with this car, going beyond what is currently part of the standard safety evaluation to offer a unique package of safety features including pedestrian and cyclist recognition auto braking, run-off road protection and rear collision alert.

There were two runners up

Honda JazzThe Honda Jazz is a great example of how good levels of safety can be offered, regardless of vehicle size and budget.

For under £14,000 the Jazz gets you standard fit Autonomous Emergency Braking across the full range whilst ‘one touch’ speed limiting, also standard, is unique in this ‘Supermini’ class of vehicle. With other safety technologies like Lane Departure Warning and traffic sign recognition also available the Jazz offers a high level of safety at an attractive price.
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Toyota AvensisPlus the Toyota Avensis which is highly commended and provides fleet buyers and families alike with a very high level of protection at a reasonable price.

Toyota is another manufacturer who has gone beyond what is currently tested by safety bodies to provide many standard fit crash prevention features, as well as accommodating the very latest I-Size child seats. Meanwhile advanced technologies like Lane Departure Warning and low and high speed Autonomous Emergency Braking are available across the majority of the range.

FOXY Steph

It Takes Two to Tango

tango_400If you read my posts you’ll know I dabble in matters to do with gender, mostly to do with the motor industry. And if anyone asks me why, I explain my step-daughter’s bad garage experience and my wish to do a better job for other Mums and daughters in future, most then appreciate that I’m chasing the general motoring good, to benefit men as well as women.

But last week I inadvertently strayed into an area where gender issues were so off my wall that I wondered if they could be for real?

Being interested by the trailers, I listened to Nicky Campbell’s The Big Questions and Reggie Yates’ Extreme TV programmes last week. Prior to that I thought I was fairly well informed about this but clearly not. Both were unpleasant viewing experiences for reasonable men and women alike. So much so, I wondered whether this sort of thing should have been given a promotional platform to begin with.

Or, for that matter, whether I should be writing about this afterwards… but we are where we are and I thought it best to be prepared should anyone reading this experience genuine gender hatred in future.

Each to our own

Now I’m happy with men and women going their own way at times, in terms of seeing our friends without our partners, going to a gender-based business group perhaps, a special-interest event or a blokey public bar, jewellery party, that sort of thing. We all need that fun and freedom otherwise we’d not do ourselves justice. And if you don’t have your own life experiences how can your opinions be informed or tolerant of others?

But I say this within a healthy family environment. By that I mean, go off, do your own thing, think and share different perspectives but be back at mealtimes to discuss the same old family and friends’ chat. To respect other opinions, laugh and support each other.

Because family and friends’ support matters, we should all enjoy this and without it we’re isolated and ultimately lost?

Gender abuse

Sadly I saw and felt waves of gender hatred from a minority of men on both these TV programmes. I also heard from women who think other females should ‘man up’ to gender abuse. As if all women are the same or as outwardly tough as them. And whilst the exceptions are never the norm I’d worry that they can surely influence others here.

For example, Reggie Yates introduced viewers to a website called MGTOW. This is an acronym for Men Going Their Own Way which sounds innocent and fair enough, in essence. But I was unprepared for their cynical website proposition, language and tone. There’d be no reasoned debate that wouldn’t be dismissed as ‘wrong’ by virtue of their Glossary it seems, which is presumably why Reggie couldn’t arrange an interview with the website owners (that I can’t find named anywhere.)

However Reggie did interview a trio of males on his programme who I took to be involved with MGTOW in one way or another. One is selling books teaching men how to get sex, including advice like ‘When no eventually means yes’ and this came very close to promoting rape as I saw it. Another very young male student lived at home with his Mum and could have had little experience of relationships with women but still seemed to hate us. Reggie couldn’t find out why and I wondered if his Mum knew (or cared) what he’s up to and saying in his vlogs? I’d have been horrified and deeply concerned had it been my son.

Social media trolls

The Big Questions programme involved a live TV studio audience and concerned social media activity critical of women, their integrity and occasionally threatening violent repercussions. Nicky Campbell struggled to manage a balanced debate here and probably gave too much attention to three main speakers.
A self-described feminist spoke about her personal abuse at Twitter. Her male counterpart, Milo (in the audience, the third male on Reggie’s programme and presumably an activist at MGTOW?) simply laughed this off. His attitude was that death and assault threats come with the territory.

Then another female criticised the initial feminist, saying that complaining about this was patronising other females when we should all stand up and defend ourselves…

So, even we women can’t support each other, including weaker females, in this area. That’s sad.

So what?

We have to be alert to serious gender abuse of course but there has to be a degree of reasonableness applied otherwise. Very often offensive comments say more about the person posting them than their victim so it can be more effective to ignore or delete them if need be and move on. To rise to the bait is often inflammatory.

But grossly offensive posts could well meet the threshold for prosecution so when these threaten physical attack including rape, or set out to stalk and/or intimidate others this must be reported to the Police. And parents need to be vigilant about the websites their children are visiting of course.

The Crown Prosecution Service publishes guidelines about prosecuting cases involving social media, explaining the principles and process.

Clearly we live in a democracy where everyone’s views can be heard. Yes there are people who ‘hate’ others for these views and yes there are many people whose views I fundamentally disagree with but I draw a line at intimidation in any way.

If any good might have come from my recent gender watching experiences on TV it’s to remind me how innocent the masculine motor industry is in comparison, despite my usual moans, compared to the seemingly serial women haters in society.

End of this subject for now. I’m sticking to the motor industry.

FOXY Steph

A blog for women about motoring