Johannesburg International Motor Show



    Get a load of this, guys: in the 2011 Women’s Car of the Year (South Africa), an astonishing 5 000 votes were received by SMS and via online voting by the gentler sex.

    JHB Motorshow

    Look no further for proof that many women are seriously mad about cars. Which makes it pretty clear, then, that they should be turning out in droves for the Johannesburg Motor Show, to be held at Expo Centre, Nasrec, from October 6–16.

    With the glorious array of fabulous new cars, bakkies, two-wheelers even a four-wheel-drive track there’s bound to be something for every woman.

    It’s taken a while, but manufacturers have finally realised that cars are no longer just a means to an end for the sisterhood. Rather, they’re a necessity, a vital accessory, if you like, in women’s lives.

    In fact, their role is so huge, their presence so crucial, that many of us can’t imagine life without them. A complete mind shift from our grandmothers’ days, when they were strictly regarded as being for men only.

    The South African Women’s Car of the Year is concrete evidence of this changing of the guard. Initiated by a magazine group eight years ago, the competition comprises eight categories, as well as an overall Best Value for Money Car.

    Initially, the list of finalists, compiled by the co-ordinator of the annual WOW supplement (Women on Wheels) inserted into four titles within the Associated Magazines’ Group, was judged by a small panel of female judges, all with motoring journalism backgrounds. For the past two years, readers have also been invited to vote, and the response has been overwhelming.

    Now there’s an international Women’s Car of The Year, too, which is equally successful. In fact last year it invited one of the local WOW judges on to its esteemed panel.

    Charleen Clarke, editor of the SA WOW supplement and who heads up the competition here, said the magazine group believed very strongly that the project would work, specifically “because women think differently about cars than men do”.

    “An example is that are women more concerned about issues such as safety. That’s not usually a male driver’s first priority.”

    Clarke said the editorial team selected the cars for inclusion in the supplement, and those were automatically finalists in the competition. “Judging is done by a leading team of female motoring journalists, as well as WOW readers.”

    Fellow judge/journalist Helene Griffiths, who also judged the International Car of the Year last year, believed women were increasingly becoming a car-buying force with which to be reckoned.

    “As a judge for the WOW Car of the Year and the international Women’s World Car of the Year I think these competitions reflect the changing times. Today women make the final decision in as many as 85% of all cars sold. They are also financially independent nowadays and many are in executive positions in the workplace, so when it comes to buying a car they value the input of female motoring journalists and the results of such competitions.

    “The voting criteria for a Women’s Car of the Year are also very different: female judges will look at driveability, reliability, child-friendliness, value for money, stylishness, what the carbon footprints is like, even good looks and things women genuinely want to know about before they buy a car.

    “Although some women like fast cars, they don’t really delve into issues like horsepower or torque. Competitions like a women’s car of the year help many of them to make final decisions on that new vehicle.”

    What they also do is help women become a little more model savvy. So she reads up on the cars, stores and recalls the info, and when shopping for a car, she’s already aware of many of its strengths and assets, as pointed out by women writers/judges.

    When she sallies forth to the Johannesburg Motor Show, she might not her Macpherson Strut from her Max Factor, but she’ll sure as nuts know what she likes . . . and why she likes it. And, of course, she’ll ask the questions relevant to her as a female driver.

    Be nice to her. She and her friends are the buying power of today, and who knows? They might even have the economic wherewithal to make or break a dealership. Now there’s something worth thinking about.