The car industry is (finally) waking up to the fact that nearly half of all drivers are women. RAC’s Technical Director, David Bizley, said that the UK has seen a boom in women drivers over the last 25 years, and recent research reveals that women play a major part in the purchase of seven out of ten cars. One of the world’s most influential men in the car industry, former Executive Vice President of Nissan Dr. Andy Palmer, has just taken over the driving seat at Aston Martin as CEO, which is not only great news for this iconic car brand, but also for women.
Dr. Palmer recently noted research showing that half of all women are unhappy with their cars and that three quarters feel ‘‘misunderstood.’’ Firms are failing to make cars that appeal to females – paying more attention to a car’s horsepower than to the effect of high heels on leg-room and whether seats fit women’s backs better than men’s. Motor industry bosses must learn to make cars that women want, Dr. Palmer admitted.
Today, of the 35.2 million drivers on the road in the UK, 16.3 million (some 46%) are women. So as an enthusiastic member of that 46%, I was delighted to be asked by Aston Martin to experience the launch of this year’s brand new Vanquish Volante Super GT, along with the beautiful four-door Rapide S sports car in and around the Scottish Highlands. An iconic brand in an iconic location – and a woman driver!
For the backdrop and drive, Aston Martin had chosen 200 miles of open road around the stunning Loch Ness trail, taking in picturesque villages in the surrounding area, including Beauly, Braemore, Dundonnell, Autlbea and Cannick.
First up was the Vanquish. As well as some motorway and dual carriageway (where we were allowed to unleash some of this supercar’s 568 horsepower), we idled through small towns, soaking up the landscape at 30 mph.
Even at the low speeds, I was able to appreciate the smoothness and comfort of the Volante, as well as the obvious respect from passers-by at traffic lights! Let’s not forget this is a brand that Cubby Broccoli chose for James Bond in one of his first movies, Goldfinger.
Monday saw the launch of a gold third-scale replica of that iconic DB5 (going under the hammer in an online auction to benefit the NSPCC), fifty years on from the film’s initial release, and even today Eon Productions continues to use Aston Martins in their James Bond movies. The latest 007, Daniel Craig, most recently drove a DB5 in Skyfall.
Last year, Aston Martin celebrated its 100th birthday, despite having been on the brink of extinction several times. A testament indeed to the iconic design of the cars and to the people who have spent years working with the brand. I was lucky enough to have the pleasure of driving with John Muirhead, Brand Communications Manager at Aston Martin for the last twenty years. I wanted to know what it was about the cars that had kept him at the same company for so long. “For me, it’s more than a brand – it’s a way of life,” he told me. “No other brand really gives me the same thrill and the same pleasure.” A testament indeed!