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Auto Study Finds Women Want Safety First

Women are much more satisfied than their male partners...when it comes to their vehicles, according to the 2004 "What Women Want" Automotive Satisfaction Study, conducted for the sixth consecutive year by the Good Housekeeping Institute and J.D. Power and Associates. "Many industries, from consumer electronics to home appliances, have changed their product design and marketing to appeal to women. As more purchase decisions are being made by women, it###s extremely important for the automotive industry to pay attention to that sector," says John Kupsch, technical director of the Good Housekeeping Institute.

Results include the following: -- SAFETY STILL TOPS THE LIST... Safety continues to be the primary determinant of satisfaction by women in nearly every category of vehicle, from compact car to full-size SUV. Interestingly, the only two segments where women ranked safety second in importance were in the categories of compact van (quietness ranked #1) and entry SUV (condition of vehicle exterior ranked #1). -- WOMEN ARE DRIVING THE AUTO DECISIONS...59% of all car purchases are made by or influenced by women, yet very few automakers are specifically targeting female consumers. -- AND MORE WOMEN ARE DRIVING IN GENERAL...Our study found that female principal car drivers have increased steadily over the past five years, showing an increase of nearly six million women! In 2004, 42.5% of principal drivers were female. -- I AM ENGINE, HEAR ME ROAR...Engine performance, including full acceleration and handling, are very important to women, even slightly more so than to male drivers (92.6% women vs. 91.3% men). Is there a Maria Andretti in the future? -- SUBSTANCE OVER STYLE...Female drivers would much prefer to be safe than stylish when on the road and they value safety more than men do (77.8% women vs. 65.3% men agree that safety is more important than styling). -- IT###S NOT EASY BEING GREEN, BUT IT###S GETTING EASIER...Women continue to be more concerned than men are about protecting the environment when it comes to purchasing an automobile. According to the survey, 82% of women find environmentally friendly vehicles ###extremely important### or ###somewhat important### as opposed to 72.3% of men. -- WOMEN BUY FROM VENUS, MEN BUY FROM MARS...Well, not exactly. But women are more likely to purchase Asian cars, trucks and SUVs than men. More than half (52%) of women said they were likely to purchase an Asian-made car and 40% said they###d consider buying an Asian-made truck or SUV, vs. 48% of men for cars and only 26% for trucks/SUVs. -- WOMEN LIKE THEIR CARS FROM AFAR AND THEIR TRUCKS HOMEGROWN...56.5% of women surveyed have bought import cars vs. 43.5% for domestic; but when it came to trucks, more than two-thirds (67.8%) purchased a domestic model vs. only 32.2% import. As part of the study, over 40,000 women were surveyed about satisfaction with their new vehicles purchased in 2004. The result is a determination of the best vehicles for eight different segments. Criteria include satisfaction with overall condition of the vehicle###s interior, solid and durable construction, interior quietness of the vehicle, overall condition of the vehicle###s interior, and vehicle safety. The top women###s choice winners of this year###s awards are as follows: Premium Compact Car: Chrysler PT Cruiser Entry Midsize Car: Hyundai Sonata Premium Midsize Car: Toyota Avalon SUVs: Entry - Subaru Forester; Midsize - Nissan Murano; Fullsize - Toyota Sequoia; Entry Luxury - Lexus RX 330 Compact Van: Toyota Sienna The latest study is based on more than 100,000 responses from the J.D. Power APEAL* Study and is designed to find out what contributes most to women###s level of satisfaction with their vehicles. The Good Housekeeping Institute enhanced the APEAL study for female responses, which totaled more than 40,000. *APEAL: Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout.