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Women starting to take over the car market

Date posted:  8/26/15 01:15:00 PM Women drivers are taking the wheel when it comes to the number of license holders in the U.S.

Since the inception of the automobile, men have typically dominated the driving and overall car buying experience. But that's all about to change. A recent report from Frost & Sullivan, a growth partnership company, shows that women drivers have now surpassed men motorists in the United States for the very first time.

"Although it is hard to make predictions on trends related to car ownership, it is clear that 80 percent of car buying decisions are now influenced by women," said Sarwant Singh, Frost & Sullivan's partner and global director.

Across the country, women now hold 51 percent of all driving licenses, and that's not just for the younger demographics or recent license owners. The Frost & Sullivan report stated women drivers are now consistently outnumbering men on the road in most ages greater than 25.

These trends seem poised to increase as the pay disparity between men and women continues to fall, allowing more women to be able to purchase a vehicle. The U.S. isn't alone in the trend. Canada, the United Kingdom and other countries are following suit.

"There are more women with jobs, and even in a developing market like India, this is accelerating rapidly," Singh said. "Finally, the number of women millionaires, and their presence in the world's rich list, is also growing exponentially."

In Canada, 49.95 percent of license holders are female. And the scales should tip to a majority of women within the next year or so.

In the UK, driving license applications from women continue to gain steam while applications from men have fallen. Over the last three years, applications from women have gone up by 2.5 percent.  The Frost & Sullivan report stated that women are already driving more miles and making more trips than their male counterparts and there should be more women drivers in the UK by 2016.

Trends expected to change
As more women take the road, more women will be seen in showrooms to buy cars. But do men and women have the same car-buying habits?

Not quite, according to Singh.

"Women prefer small and more maneuverable vehicles, but they also give importance to design, spaciousness, safety, quality of materials, color and sustainability," Singh said. "They like options like park assist, clear lighting for petrol, easy access, integrated systems for mobile devices and entertainment. We are convinced that in a few years women will favor cars with advanced systems such as autonomous driving, digital assistants and other health, wellness and well-being features."

Singh is predicting that more car manufacturers will offer customizable options to adjust to the new trends, much like Toyota's Scion brand is already offering.

"When buying a new car, women are practical, but they also tend to associate the purchase with aspirations of freedom and independence," Singh said.

Women who own a home but don't quite have the cash to purchase a new car should consider a home equity line of credit, which can be used for a down payment on a car, student loan repayment or a home improvement project. While the loan is used like a line of credit, homeowners are asked to put down their home as collateral.

Car buying choices
Women are less likely to buy alternatives of a particular model. So if a popular sedan also comes in a coupe or hatchback, women are more likely than men to stick with the sedan and avoid the hatchback or coupe. 

The report also suggests that women are much more likely to buy a car if the product is endorsed by a celebrity.