Tag Archives: BMW

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

BMW cars aren’t just for boys

The stylish interior of a  BMW Series 1
The stylish interior of a BMW Series 1
I’m sure there are some that think the B in BMW stands for Boys but there are many foxy lady drivers like me who drive one and know differently.

BMW is one of our most prestigious motoring brands but it seems to suffer from an unfair image in some minds that doesn’t do its current range of new vehicles justice.

For example, when I gave a (male) neighbour a lift recently and asked him where to drop him off he said ‘just over there but there’s no need to signal because you’re driving a BMW.’ I laughed at the time but I thought about it afterwards.

Are BMW drivers really as arrogant as they appear to be or is it simply a case of perceived Teutonic cool giving the brand an exclusive personality, like it or not?

BMWs I have driven

I first chose a BMW five years ago. It was a BMW Z4 Roadster (called Zoot) and I loved him. And so did my husband which is always an important consideration to me.

Until a lady drove into us and wrote Zoot off. That’s why I bought another BMW – because despite sustaining a couple of broken ribs and a broken thumb in the accident I could have been so much more seriously injured. I honestly believe that car kept me safer than another might have.

My current car is a BMW 1 Series 5 door sports hatch (called Romeo). No longer new, it still plies the motorways with ease and surprising economy. My husband would put driving performance at the top of his list and I am used to this of course.

Had I become a BMW fan twenty or ten years ago I’d have needed a family car and I’d have been spoiled for choice. Today’s range of new BMW vehicles includes a huge choice of saloons, coupes and touring cars in their 2, 3 and 4 Series.

The gender appeal


I’d probably have been impressed by the new BMW X5 which we reviewed last October. But of course there wouldn’t have been the online car reviews from other Mums that influence us today.

Interestingly I hadn’t noticed until now that I gave both my BMW’s male names. And there is no doubt in my mind that any shade of pink BMW would look well out of place in today’s range whereas it works perfectly well for Citroen and Honda…

So there is undoubtedly a whiff of Old Spice more than Chanel about the BMW brand but this doesn’t stop the cars appealing to women like me. And dare I suggest that there’s something empowering about driving a car that is so evidently male and telling ‘him’ where to go and how to get there.

I shall just have to live with the out of date jokes about BMW drivers being too arrogant to signal or too important to put others first. Perhaps these images were borne out of jealousy, or would that be too arrogant of me to suggest?


Volkswagen UP! is MoneySupermarket’s Car of the Year

We were delighted to be invited to contribute our female focused opinions to Moneysupermarket.com for their inaugural Car Of The Year competition.

As you might imagine, there’s a fairly epic infographic to explain all about their final decision and the cars that rose to the top in the process.

Image source: MoneySupermarket Car Insurance

Whilst the winner of the competition was the Volkswagen UP! it is sharing the podium with the Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo because they are all built on the same basic chassis.

MoneySupermarket.com started out by asking a select number of online motoring experts to judge the competition, including FOXY Lady Drivers Club to get our all female views.

We supplied our overall top ten, with the number one selection scoring ten points and the 10th choice picking up a single point. Moneysupermarket.com then collated all their expert scores to come up with the definitive list.

Unsurprisingly the UP! was one of the vehicles nominated by FOXY Lady Drivers Club (because we’re shrewd and discerning, remember) and thanks to its 5* NCAP rating, strong reliability and great value for money. Most judges pointed out the low running costs which make the vehicle an ideal choice for today’s cost conscious motorists.

FOXY’s overall top nomination was the BMW 116d thanks to its sporty driving, practicality and eco-friendliness. The 116d only just missed out on the final top 10 but its bigger sister the 320d, which is blessed with the same eco-friendly characteristics, was a strong contender for victory right until the end.

As it happens, BMW scored more points than any other manufacturer in the competition, an impressive 37 points more than Skoda who came in second just ahead of Volkswagen.

As you can see, German manufacturers did well in the competition; scoring more than double the number of points as Japan. Luckily England didn’t do too badly though, being the third most successful country thanks mainly to the popularity of the Range Rover Evoque (also on FOXY’s list, supporting GB) and the electric Vauxhall Ampera (which we have yet to drive but would like to…).


Car sales CAN make a difference

Most marketers know to carve out a memorable niche by identifying what makes a product or service different from the rest.

Different in terms of being better, with tailored content perhaps, for a new market… or just cheaper than the rest.

In an industry used to mass marketing more than segmentation (and where the typical message is more male oriented than female regardless of the audience) this brings more marketing challenges to the UK motor industry than most. Especially when the UK’s neighbouring export market is faring worse economically than it is.

Bigger, better, best?

Despite the encouraging news that UK motor manufacturers continue to lead the UK economy in terms of job generation, car sales and exports in Q1, on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning Professor Karel Williams suggested that Vauxhall, Ford, Honda, Nissan and Toyota car manufacturers will struggle for position in the UK in future. This is because they are being squeezed in the middle by cheaper and smaller Hyundais and newcomer Dacia with status seekers and business drivers buying the likes of premium BMW, Audi and Mercedes brands that they presumably perceive to be better at the upper end of the market.

This matters to the UK because most of these supposedly ‘squeezed middle’ brands are the car manufacturers we read about today, leading the UK out of recession we hope, in terms of jobs and exports.

Customer service is key…

This means there’s even more to play for in terms of customer service with Jaguar Land Rover setting a great example of how to move from mediocre to leading advantage in a short period of time. Not just car sales, aftersales (car servicing, repairs and MOT work) is BIG business for dealership groups, specialist bodyshops and independent garages alike. At all levels, there is a real opportunity for those that can do it better to distinguish themselves from the rest (and there is a lot of scope through mediocrity here) gaining the reputation for being a better business as a result.

…providing the price is right

But the price you pay for a new car in a dealership is still too grey an area for my liking.

Why should any motorist, male or female, pay less for a car because they buy it towards the end of a sales period when the salesman is more inclined to share his commission? And why should women feel the need to take a man with them to negotiate that final price for fear of being sold a lemon?

More transparency is needed here, especially when it comes to innocent motorists who don’t understand the unnecessarily complex negotiating game and end up paying more than they should for a new car, having been baffled by the complications of trading in values and car finance in the process.

More patriotic pride needed for new cars ‘Made in GB’?

Alternatively our government can ‘encourage’ British motorists to buy cars (and other goods) made in GB of course, harnessing the power of national pride which turned so many sporting cynics into London 2012 Olympic fanatics.

This is surely what we can expect the likes of France and Germany to do soon, to secure their home markets alongside competing imports.

Then we can all feel EVEN MORE proud of our UK motor industry; when buying British means fair prices and superior service levels that don’t patronise or rip off male or female motorists who want to be able to buy cars and garage services on trust.


The British Mini Love Affair

Whatever you read about the Mini in the early 60s there always seems to be a sense of nostalgia; for the British car itself and the motor industry we were so proud of in those days.

Hard to believe that the original Mini first made its extrovert appearance on the motoring scene back in the 1950s, badged as an Austin Seven Mini. It was one of several cars to herald the development of ‘small cars’ that were stylishly small by intention in a sea of large ‘prestige’ cars.

A small car that one could buy even though one could afford something bigger…

That’s hard to conceive when you think that small cars are today’s must have model for most of us based on economy, environmental and responsible motoring principles.

The original Mini first made its appearance in 1959 and became the perfect motoring icon in the fashion conscious Swinging Sixties. Ignoring its revolutionary style for a moment, Austin was also the first car manufacturer to mount the engine sideways (giving so much more interior room for a 10 footer) to be front-wheel drive and to have all round independent suspension and more… On the less favourable front, the girl in the spotty jumper may be brushing water off her knee high boots because leaks were quite commonplace as a result of early panel welding faults. And it wasn’t a reliable car either… It cost £567 in 1961 did 41mpg and a top speed of 74mph.

Today’s Mini is better in almost every way, says Which? Car in a January 2012 article. A completely different animal of course, it’s now German owned, much bigger, faster, safer, greener, comfier and much more reliable. And despite all this BMW have somehow managed to preserve the earlier Mini affection despite a selling price of £14,480 (2011) but with a more impressive 74.3 mpg and a top speed of 114mph.


PS: The photo is from a marvellous book called ‘Advertising British Cars of the 50s’ published by Haynes.