Automakers say safety is priority for women

'2018 GRL'

December 21, 2017
Layan Damanhouri

Saudi Gazette

SAFETY seems to be the most sought out feature for women shopping for cars, according to several car companies showcasing at the Saudi International Motor Show 2017 held here this week.

Automakers revealing latest models at the showroom expressed enthusiasm for women being allowed to drive in the Kingdom.

Japanese automaker Nissan, one of the first brands to congratulate Saudi women on social media following the announcement of the royal decree allowing women to drive in the Kingdom, presented a video of tribute to female Saudi role models to the visitors at the auto show and displayed its ad from September showing a license plate reading “2018 GRL”.

Safety is key for the female consumer here, according to Nissan executives.

Nissan’s chief operating officer Bader El Houssami believes the mid-size affordable car with intelligent mobility, cameras and family-friendly space is going to be a hit with female consumers.

Asked about their marketing strategy, he said, “We’re recruiting more Saudi women who can have access with universities and the community as well as our dealers to add more women working in the frontline and having dedicated places here.

By June, there will be a marketing and sales team for women, training them and developing them to be able to study the requirements for the Saudi market. What we need to do is to support women in the safety features of the car.”

Saudi consumers are one of the most advanced globally, according to Chevrolet that showcased the Equinox for the first time in the region. “We’re very lucky to have one of the richest millennials in the world and they’re smart and know exactly what they want,” said Ahmed Soudodi, Chevrolet’s head of brand. “They’re also the most connected in terms of mobile and Internet consumption.”

He added, “We believe younger women will adopt driving faster because it’s easier to learn how to do things for the first time when at a young age.”

Safety is the No. 1 priority for female consumers, according to their market research. He said, “There’s a maternal instinct to protect their young ones. The following priorities are fuel economy, space and the technology a car offers.”

Brands that are easy to do business with and connect with the community gain more attraction, he added.

“We’re optimistic for Saudi Arabia, in general, for the progress they’re going through. We believe it’s extremely positive and it’s going to play a huge role economically and socially in the years to come. Driving creates the freedom to chase one’s dreams.”

Chevrolet that has tested autonomous driving in the United States is exploring further opportunities globally. Technology is still at its infancy phase, however, and has not started in the Kingdom.

The arrival of some 9 million potential women drivers could lift Saudi car sales by 15-20 percent per year, according to LMC Automotive, as the Kingdom’s “car density” of 220 vehicles per 1,000 adults is expected to increase to about 300 in 2025.

Managing director at Almajdouie Motors, Mohammed Almajdouie, expressed optimism for women shoppers and said the royal decree will have a positive impact on picking up car sales. He said, “From our portfolio of women driving is around 15%. We expect this percentage to grow once the regulations are implemented.”

Almajoudie introduced leading Chinese brand Changan to the Saudi market last year and wants to position itself as a value-for-money car and is leveraging on its customer service solutions.

“We won’t have to adapt a lot of features because our research shows that women and men in Saudi Arabia have more or less the same taste in cars,” said Almajdouie.

Electrification, although a global trend, will start picking up once regulations are supported by the government in the coming months, according to several car dealers.

December 21, 2017
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