Women Don’t Care About Horsepower and Other Myths

Every so often an event rolls through town that captures one or more of my passions. I have to be passionate to leave the house on a school night. If I’m going to be honest about my default refusal to leave the house it’s actually because the kids and Mr. G are trapped here by homework and early wake ups. I don’t want to miss a night of the four of us being together. Friday, Saturday or Sunday? They’re mostly busy with friends and things I’m like a rat on a sinking ship, invite me anywhere and I’ll go.

Recently there was an event that combined the automotive industry and social media. Two passions under one roof, I’m all in and I loved the first hour.

Then a marketing executive dropped a nuclear bomb.

“Women don’t care about horsepower. Even the ladies in the office don’t care. All they want is luxury inside the vehicle.”

What. The. Fuck.

Coincidentally this message was delivered by the whitest most middle aged Murican man I’d set eyes on in a long time.

At first I thought I’d heard wrong. Maybe I spend too much time reading Ms Magazine and attending women’s events. Maybe I have a build up of salt in my ears from afternoons in the pool? I looked at the women next to me and the full row of women behind me and asked, “Did he just say that?” And everyone nodded with grim faces.

Because with one sentence an automotive executive dismissed us all. The saddest part is that not one person there corrected him. Including the woman sitting next to him.

Maybe it’s true that women don’t want to talk about horsepower, balancing or torque but it’s undeniable that women care about these things and from a marketing standpoint it should be terrifying to shareholders that top level brass doesn’t understand his customer.

You see, a group of women won’t sit around talking about horsepower but they will talk about how fast their vehicles are. They won’t talk about chassis balancing but if they test drive a minivan and it “feels tippy” no one’s buying that thing because we all want to be safe. Many of my friends tune out when you talk about torque but they all want to know how long it takes a car to go from 35 to 70 on the off chance that the 405 won’t have traffic. The terminology may be different but the discussion is the same. Everyone likes a car with (at a minimum) adequate power.

Women are having these discussions. They’re just having them differently and car companies would be wise to learn how to listen.

According to Forbes women influence 85% of the car purchases in America. How many car purchases does the automotive enthusiast community influence?

Facebook Comments


  1. deb

    What an ass. Yes, I care about torque, balancing and most of all horsepower. I have a slight obsession with cars and especially with cars that go fast. I may not know all the “terms”, but I’m definitely talking about cars with my girlfriends.

    When I’m cruising down the highway (I’ll plead the 5th on my speed) I want to know that the car I’m driving can corner and corner well. Feel free to message me the name of the company. Inquiring minds want to know.

    • :) I’ll never tell. It could have been anyone, it was a moment of candor and I’d like to be invited places again.

  2. Cat

    To be honest, cars have never been part of any conversation of mine. All I care about is a comfy seat, a pretty color and a payment I can afford. I definitely fit the bill of “women don’t care about horsepower”. Maybe he should have added “MOST” in front of that sentence.

  3. p p

    I care about these things and talk about them! My male colleagues come to me to ask car buying advice. I’m a woman in my late 40s and I drive a “hot hatch”, a small hatchback turbo car that’s marketed to 18-25 year old men and is faster than a Nissan Z car. (Although if I could get my hands on one of those early 70s 240Z’s ….) By the same token, Audi has the best fit & finish in the industry and I’d love to have one to luxuriate in if I could afford to replace it every year (b/c they have unreliable engines & like with all marque brands the repair costs are usurious – how do I know this? Because yes, I have owned one of those too and learned my lesson the hard way).

    But this isn’t a man/woman thing, it’s a gear head/not a gear head thing. Plenty of men don’t care about cars either.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *