The Heels & Wheels 2015 Event: Women Driving Hot New Cars

A Girls Guide To Cars | The Heels &Amp; Wheels 2015 Event: Women Driving Hot New Cars - 2015 Heels Wheels1

Women drive the conversation at Heels & Wheels.

In May of this year, a group of women influencers in the automotive market met at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village, California. We were there for Heels & Wheels, a yearly event that brings female representatives from major auto manufacturers and journalists together.

The test drives took place in the Santa Monica area- a sunny venue to try out winding mountain roads, crowded highways and city streets. In other words, real-life driving.

2015 Heels &Amp; Wheels

The Heels & Wheels gang. Credit: Holly Reich for AGirlsGuidetoCars

Here are some of my major takeaways:

New Car Buying:  Women vs. Men by

  • Women take longer to purchase than men: 75 days versus 63 days
  • Women feel less knowledgeable (41% vs. 64%) and less confident than men (38% vs. 59%)
  • Women research more. They spend 10.4 min more on research vs. 3.8 mins for men
  • Women shop for features; men shop for brands
  • Two times more women are undecided, 2 out of 5 men know what car they want
A Girls Guide To Cars | The Heels &Amp; Wheels 2015 Event: Women Driving Hot New Cars - Night Vision On The H Wheels Group

Night vision on the Heels & Wheels group. Credit: Holly Reich for AGirlsGuidetoCars

How did you pick which car to bring?

GM: The Regal GS is a great “best foot forward” car for Buick and really illustrates what the brand stands for. It’s graceful and elegant on the outside, beautiful and comfortable on the inside, it has great technology throughout, and it’s really fun to drive.

Heels &Amp; Wheels

Jaguar F-TYPE Convertible. Credit: Jaguar

Jaguar Land Rover: The vehicles JLR provided were a 2015 Discovery Sport HSE and a Jaguar F-TYPE Convertible. We choose to send the F-Type because the route the ladies took went through the LA mountains to Malibu and made a fun drive in a convertible!

Mazda: We chose the 2016 Mazda6 for this event because of its relevance to the women that attended, as well as their target audience. The Mazda6 is an affordable mid-sized vehicle – offering an innovative interior design, with all the latest safety technology, and an enhanced exterior design.  It has functionality, ride comfort, and quietness – features that are important to most women when making a purchasing decision. Most importantly, it is fun-to-drive, and H&W is for female journalists for whom driving matters.

Heels &Amp; Wheels

2016 Mazda6. Credit: Mazda

Nissan: Murano has a lot to offer—unique style, advanced technology and a suite of safety and convenience features that make the daily commute more enjoyable. The all-new Murano, we like to say has an extra set of eyes with its four cameras and three radar sensors.  Nissan Murano has a lower in-step height and wider door opening, making it easier to get in/out of the vehicle and to secure infants and toddlers in their car seats. We also lowered the height of the instrument panel, shortening that “seat-to-screen” distance. That, combined with the larger screen and less audio and navigation switches, makes for a more user-friendly (and driver-friendly) experience.

Mitsubishi: We are focusing… on the  Outlander Sport.  It has a design that stands out and a size that appeals to women, so it’s a natural fit.

VW: The all-new Golf SportWagen blends sedan-like driving dynamics and fuel economy with crossover-style cargo capacity, making it an ideal choice for modern families. Having this model available for female auto journalists and bloggers to share with their audiences helps Volkswagen spread the word that the wagon truly is back.

Heels &Amp; Wheels

2015 Lexus NX200t F Sport. Credit: Lexus

What information from the event should women know?

Mazda: The purchasing research that compared women’s buying habits versus men’s buying habits (KBB) was very relevant and interesting from an automaker’s perspective.

Mitsubishi: Women are a demographic that we do keep in mind… because they influence so many car purchases. In that sense, events like these are necessary for the brand.

VW: I was impressed by the wide variety of outlet types. There were not only women writing for female and family-oriented blogs, but also for go-to industry research sites and buff books. Women often make the car-buying decisions in their households and the more they can read about cars from writers with a similar perspective, the better.

Do you think that we need more women in the automotive business and why?

GM:Absolutely! The best way for automakers to understand and serve their female customers is to have women working in every aspect of the business. From my own experience at GM, I’ve felt welcomed from day one. My contributions are appreciated and opinions are valued – and the work is fun, challenging, and fulfilling.

Mazda:· It’s great to have many more women in the automotive industry. It provides a unique perspective to an industry where a lot of women ultimately have a significant influence on the final purchasing decision. Women – and even men – are very welcoming to women in the industry. Even across manufacturers, I feel like the women form a bond that helps us do our jobs better, and gives our companies critical insight, rather than just stepping on each other’s feet.

Nissan: I think having more females in the automotive industry would be a fabulous thing. What I appreciate about the environment at Nissan is that we as a company truly value diversity and believe that it ultimately helps us as we develop new vehicles and outreach strategy.

Mitsubishi: I would love more women in the automotive business. I particularly think that there would be a benefit to more women in dealerships to make the search and purchasing process better, but also…as engineers and product planners. I will say that I was very pleasantly surprised by the event… the women were all so welcoming, very judgment free.

VW: We need more women in the auto industry. Women can inform product and marketing decisions in new ways that will result in more well-rounded and well-received vehicles for everyone.

Heels &Amp; Wheels

Holly and Motörhead Mama- Heels & Wheels. 2015 Credit: Holly Reich for AGirlsGuidetoCars

The vehicles we tested. Prices as driven:

Holly has written about travel, cars, culture and health since she bought the first generation Macintosh. Her portfolio includes... More about Holly Reich