These days, it shouldn’t come as a shock that women comprise more than half of licensed drivers on US streets and highways, outnumbering men by about a million and a half. If you’re paying attention, you’ve probably also noticed that just over half of your new-car customers are women. It might be less apparent that, even if they aren’t the one signing on the dotted line, women ultimately make 85% of car buying decisions.
Despite this, manufacturers and dealers seem to be largely failing when it comes to effectively marketing to women. There are a number of ways that, as a dealer, efforts can be made to remedy this problem. One excellent, if relatively small, way to show some goodwill to and encourage participation in automotive culture by your female customers would be to buy a copy or two of Libby Edelman’s Lovin’ My Car: Women In The Driver’s Seat for your lounge or customer waiting areas.
Edelman’s book– a collection of photos of women and their autos with a short bit of text to accompany each– isn’t a politicized feminist automotive manifesto by any means. Frankly, several entries in the book feel a bit lightweight in terms of how overtly empowering or even woman-centric they are. At first, I was somewhat disappointed Lovin’ My Car isn’t just a little more, if not perhaps aggressive about women and their passion for their cars, a bit more assertive.
Roberta Nichols © 2019 Libby Edelman
Fortunately, for each story that starts with “My Husband bought me…” there’s another that features a woman involved in something straight-up badass, like Stella Calloway racing junker school busses, or a woman like Roberta Nichols who has, in full-on grease monkey fashion, restored a 1954 Benz 300 SL to concourse quality herself, or a woman like Meredydd Francke who has spent decades racing bugeye Sprites, or…you get the picture. Not every photo in Lovin’ My Car: Women In The Driver’s Seat is great, nor is every story particularly compelling on its own, but to be fair, they don’t have to be. The entries in this book represent a reasonably wide variety of female car lovers, and there’s nothing wrong with that affection for a car not extending beyond Sunday driving in some cases. All automotive love is valid and shouldn’t be discouraged.
© 2019 Libby Edelman
To that end, Lovin’ My Car is highly recommended. It doesn’t hurt that women are the majority of drivers (and buyers!), but at the end of the day, women aren’t just drivers and customers, they’re people who are underrepresented in basically every aspect of the automotive space. This book is not only a step toward rectifying that situation, it’s a great “coffee-table” style read for anyone who might find themselves with a little time to spare, especially at a dealership. Frankly, it’s also a welcome disruption of modern screen addiction that your customers might appreciate on that basis alone.
With the upcoming pilot of Patty’s Auto and women like Patrice Banks not only entering the automotive business through less traditional avenues, but being represented in popular culture, inclusion for all in automotive is a corner finally being turned. It’s long overdue, and Lovin’ My Car: Women In The Driver’s Seat is a pleasant nudge in that direction. Grab a copy or two for your dealership and encourage your female customers –and staff!– to share in the enthusiasm for cars that makes the Automotive industry great.