TOKYO – The car industry is a stark example of the disparity of the sexes.
Business Insider was at the opening of the 45th Tokyo Motor Show last week and for the most part, it was a sea of men in dark suits talking about the industry (yes, we plead guilty to complicity in that scenario).
It’s a strange disconnect when women are intimately involved in decisions about what car to buy. In the US, they’re a clear majority with women buying 65% of new vehicles and involved in 85% of decisions.
In Australia, 45% of new cars sold go to women and they’re involved in 82% of all decisions. They make their own choice on 47% of purchases.
Yet the industry itself is dominated by men, with women making up an estimated 17% of car industry jobs, with representation at executive level even lower.
Those figures are what made the Mercedes-Benz media presentation at the Tokyo Motor Show stand out.
After a brief introduction from Mercedes-Benz Japan president and CEO Kintaro Ueno, he handed the floor to Daimler AG board member Britta Seeger, who’s responsible for sales.
She presented the GLC F-Cell, the Mercedes plug-in hybrid SUV that combines a hydrogen fuel-cell with lithium-ion battery for electric charging.
After her short pitch she passed the baton to Dr Annette Winkler, head of Smart, the mini electric car spinoff, to unveil the “EQ fortwo”, a two-seat driverless ride-sharing vehicle, as the company’s vision for the future.
The fourth presenter was Eva Wiese, Mercedes-AMG director branding & marketing, with the jaw-dropping Project One, a two-seater hybrid super sports car that will punch out 1000hp, with a top speed of 350km/h, thanks to an F1 plug-in drive that combines the turbocharged internal combustion engine with four electric motors.
It was a smart and seamless presentation from Mercedes-Benz and the three women not only stood out for their intelligence and enthusiasm, the way they delivered it emphasised collaboration and innovation, positioning the company not only as a manufacturer looking to the technological future, but also demonstrating an intimate understanding of who they’re selling their story to – the customer.
Which in majority of instances, means a woman.
* Business Insider was at the Tokyo Motor Show as a guest of Lexus.
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