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29.6.10

New Car Auto Floor Mats Front Seat University of Alabama Crimson TideWomen like their cars small, inexpensive, foreign and hot. No, not hot in the muscular looks, twin-turbo powerplant, and growling exhaust note sense. Actually hot. They like to crank the heater up.

That's the conclusion of a pair of new surveys on women and cars.

The point isn't academic. It affects the bottom line for automakers worldwide. Ford Motor Company researchers have concluded that women are directly responsible for 45 percent of new car purchases, and have input into 80 percent. So, despite generations of juvenile taunts, automakers today want to build chick cars -- it's where the money is.

To find out just what that means, the analysts at TrueCar.com looked at the registrations of more than 13 million vehicles over the past two years. They found that just 36 percent of new cars were registered to women. But the cars registered to women show a few clear trends.
Size Matters, and They Like 'em Small

The researchers found nine models of car that were bought by women more often than men. All nine were small cars, or small SUVs. Not one was even midsize.

New Car Auto Floor Mats Front Seat Arizona State Sun DevilsThey weren't all cute compact cars. The list actually featured more small SUVs than anything else. As manufacturers have moved toward car-based crossover SUVs, compact SUVs have increasingly become an alternative to midsize cars. They offer cargo space when it's needed, but are still nimble and easy to drive. Women are driving this trend, buying curvaceous small SUVs like the Nissan Rogue and Hyundai Tucson more often than men.

We should note, however, that the survey only looked at the gender on the registration form. Some women may register a car in their own name when they're young and single, but register the family car in their partner's name later in life, skewing the numbers toward the sorts of cars that appeal to the young.

They Don't Like to Waste Money

Of the ten auto brands bought most often by women, just one -- Lexus – is clearly  a luxury marque.

You could make an argument for Volvo as well, but sub-$30,000 models like the C30 and S40 blur the line a bit. For the most part, women like affordable cars.

Cars Mack HaulerWhat's more, of the nine models bought most often by women, just one – the Volkswagen Eos – starts above $30,000. Most can be had for more than a third less. These cars are missing things that drive prices up, like more powerful engines and luxury badges. But some are known for offering an impressive interior at an affordable price, like the stylish Nissan Rogue or the well-equipped Kia Sportage. It's possible to get leather seating, Bluetooth, a top-shelf audio system and a navigation screen without spending a bundle. You just won't get a well-known luxury nameplate or a V8 in the process. For many women buyers, that's apparently just fine.

Cars [Original Soundtrack] [Collector's Edition]They Find Foreigners More Attractive

American automakers may be in the midst of a recovery, but they haven't won over the affections of women yet. Of the ten brands women were most likely to buy in TrueCar.com's study, not one was domestic. Asian automakers seem to have special insight into the mind of the American female, taking nine of the top ten slots.

Pixar Cars: Bug Mouth McQueenOf the ten brands they were least likely to buy, three were domestic – including heavyweight Chevrolet. It's not just General Motors that has work to do to win over women, either. Ford missed making the bottom ten list by less than half a percentage point.

Some automakers don't seem to attract women to their entire lineup, but do know how to build a model that wins over female shoppers. Volkswagen, for instance, still attracts more male than female buyers. But it builds the most popular car among women, the New Beetle. The Volkswagen Eos convertible cracks the list as well.

American automakers can't even seem to manage this trick, either. Of the nine models sold to women more often than men, not one was an American car.

To be fair, this could change as the Big Three start to bring out attractive, feature-filled new small cars like the Ford Fiesta and Chevy Cruze later this year.

They Like it Hot

Pixar Cars: Ramone (Green)A second survey, by U.K. Repair chain Kwik-Fit, shows that women like their cars hotter than men do. Literally -- about 70 percent of respondents in relationships said that the male partner wanted the temperature lower than the female partner -- and women tend to win the argument.

They Don't Want Men to Drive What They Drive

So, should straight guys unlucky in love buy a bug? TrueCar.com's results don't address that question, but there are plenty of reasons to believe that a practical, inexpensive small car may be what women want for themselves...but not in their dates.

World Of Cars > #33 Pit Crew Fabulous Hudson Hornet VehicleLast year, University of Wales researchers asked women to judge the attractiveness of men when shown a photo, and told what car each man drove. The result? Women find the same man more attractive when told he drives a more expensive car. When the genders were reversed, men showed no tendency to find women more or less attractive based on the car they drive.

So yes, she wants a small, reasonably-priced foreign car, and she wants it warm. But don't drive one if you want her attention.
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