In the U.S., 41 percent of luxury vehicles sold so far this year were bought by women, up from 37 percent five years ago, according to car shopping site Edmunds.com. Historically, women were considered the practical car shoppers and they often opted for large SUVs or minivan as their daily hauler, and premium cars from BMW and Mercedes were not often the first choice.
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The market has seen a shift in late 90s when Lexus introduced the RX SUV, a car aimed directly at female drivers. Shortly after, BMW launched the X3 SAV which has become a great seller among women. The percent of women buying small luxury SUVs — like the BMW X3 or Acura RDX — has nearly tripled over the last five years.
“The idea of the luxury vehicle has changed. Performance is just one corner of the market,” says Jessica Caldwell, a senior analyst with Edmunds.
One of the reasons for the sales increase is the salary gap which is slowly closing between men and women. Thirty-eight percent of women now out-earn their husbands, up from 30 percent in 2000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Luxury SUVs now outsell luxury cars, thanks in large part to women, who like their space, safety and taller ride height. Meanwhile, makers of performance cars struggle to attract women. Only 9 percent of Ferraris and Lamborghinis have been bought by women.
When it comes to BMWs, a female customer told The Olympian that she chose BMW because of its solid, safe feel.