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Female car ownership up 21% in a decade, SMMT reveals

Car retailers’ need to better cater for women was brought into focus by a Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders report, which showed female car ownership has risen by 21% in a decade.

Over 11.8 million women bought cars in the UK during 2017, according to new Motorparc data released today by the SMMT, meaning that women now own a third of the nation’s car parc.

The growth in female car ownership since 2007 compares with a 10% increase in the number of men purchasing a vehicle in the same period.

A total of 17.8m cars were registered to men in 2017 and there are now 34.7 million cars on UK roads – up 12% across the past 10 years.

The news came as gender pay gap reported brought the conversation about attracting a greater female representation in UK car dealerships to the fore once again.

Julia Muir, founder of the UK UK Automotive 30%, which is working to ensure that 30% of senior roles in their businesses held by women by 2030, said: “We must aim to remove any obstacles to their progression that are currently creating an uneven playing field and limiting the number of women joining and rising up the ranks.

“Many of the jobs and working practices we have in place have been designed for a 20th Century workplace and are not serving well the requirements and shopping habits of the 21st Century customer - the majority of whom are female.”

Along with highlighting the prevalence of female car owners visiting dealerships, the SMMT’s report also showed how motorists are benefitting from technology.

Although manual gearboxes still dominate, the number of automatic models has risen 70.5% since 2007, with some 8.4 million now on the road.

In total, 40% of all new cars registered in 2017 featured an automatic gearbox, double the proportion in 2007, with consumers attracted to the comfort and driving simplicity inherent in the technology.

The data also shows the diversity of British car ownership, with some 1,500 model ranges and 65,000 different model specifications in the parc, compared with 1,200 and 56,000 10 years ago.

More than a fifth (22.5%) of cars on UK roads were less than three years old in 2017, helping improve air quality and CO2 emissions with the latest low emission technology.

Smaller models continue to make up the bulk of the UK’s car parc – mini, supermini and lower medium together taking 62.3% market share in 2017, up from 60% in 2007.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “Consumers are enjoying greater freedom and mobility than ever before, which along with greater reliability and improved fuel efficiency, make owning a car a more attractive and affordable option for millions of people.

“With every new model launched, more motorists are benefitting from more advanced technology.

“From innovative safety systems such as autonomous emergency braking and adaptive speed control, to state-of-the-art infotainment and comfort features, including heads-up navigation, heated seats and air-con, in-car WiFi and greater connectivity.

“This latest Motorparc analysis shows the shifts in consumer preferences and behaviour over the past decade and provides insight for car makers and dealers to help them adapt to changing consumer behaviour in the future.”


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