Supercar makers neglect women at their peril

Tue May 19, 2015 6:30am EDT
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By Agnieszka Flak

JONA, Switzerland (Reuters) - Supercar makers are like teenage boys at a high school dance, according to business consultant Belinda Parmar. They don't have a clue how to speak to women.

They may need to learn, and quickly.

With the number of financially independent women on the rise across much of the world, high-performance carmakers risk losing a potentially big market to more adaptable rivals.

"Any woman could drive those cars," said Sonja Heiniger, the Swiss owner of an Internet services firm who has owned four Lamborghinis and hits the racetrack in a Porsche.

"If you only address men, then that’s a pity," the 76 year-old said as she touched the accelerator in her latest Lamborghini, a $375,000 Gallardo Super Trofeo Stradale special edition car in "rosso mars" red.

It may be more than a pity. It could prove costly.

While fewer than 10 percent of Lamborghinis and Ferraris in the United States are bought by women, the figure for Porsche -- whose sportscars tend to be cheaper -- has climbed to almost a quarter, according to forecasters IHS Automotive.

In China, one of the world's fastest-growing car markets, Porsche makes almost 40 percent of its sales to women, helping it to become a key profit engine for parent Volkswagen.   Continued...

Sonja Heiniger, 76 years old, drives her Lamborghini in Jona, Switzerland, March 20, 2015.    REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo