Archive for the ‘Women Drivers’ Category

Honda Rolls Out Fuel Cell Vehicles

honda-clarity.JPGMost women would agree that they would like a little more clarity in their lives – and now Honda is delivering that.

Honda will put about 200 of its FCX Clarity vehicles on the road over the next three years, although – much like GM’s electric EV1 introduced back in 1996, the cars will not be sold. They’ll only be available for lease, and let’s hope they don’t meet the same fate! (For more on that, check out the documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car?)

Adding a little celebrity appeal to the FCX Clarity’s profile is actress Jamie Lee Curtis (pictured above), who became only the second customer to take ownership of the new vehicle. Curtis and her husband, mockumentary filmmaker Christopher Guest, have been vocal advocates about green living and have owned other alternative fuel and hybrid vehicles. As a veteran driver of fuel-saving vehicles, Curtis said the appointments of the new FCX Clarity caught her off guard.

“I really wasn’t expecting it to be so luxurious,” she said. “It’s luxurious, luxurious, luxurious!”

All that luxury includes a satellite-linked navigation system with a rearview camera; voice-recognition controls and heated and cooled seats … made of bio-friendly fabric, of course. And if you believe the surveys that say most women make their automobile selection based on cupholders – well, you’re in luck. The Clarity has a bunch of ’em.

More significant, of course, is the mileage of this car, which runs on hydrogen-powered fuel cells. It gets the equivalent of 74 miles to the gallon and has a driving range of about 280 miles. The electric motor runs on electricity generated in the fuel cell, and the only by-products from this zero-emission car are heat and water.

Most of the cars will be leased in Southern California, according to Honda. Here’s hoping they can hit the rest of the country fairly quickly.

What Kind of Car Are You Attracted To?

Hot on the heels of a survey that indicates women find hybrids sexier than hotrods (See What’s Sexier – A Porsche or a Prius? ), LeaseTrader.com has released a new look at what kind of women are attracted to certain cars. Or, more specifically, the men who drive those cars.

Teaming up with dating expert DeAnna Lorraine, they’re released a new look at how women react to the cars men drive.

“A man’s car reveals more about his personality and values, and may determine a woman’s attraction toward him,” Lorraine says. “Women pay attention to more than just a man’s personal looks.”

Based on the five most popular cars being leased by men, Lorraine created the following profiles:

Chevy Suburban : The men at the wheel of this car like travel, adventure and spending time with friends and family. Therefore, they tend to attract women who are family-oriented, down to earth and easygoing.

Mercedes S-Class : These guys are classy, successful and stylish – Lorraine refers to them as “Sugar Daddies.” Consequently, she believes these vehicles attract sophisticated women in their late 30s and 40s who enjoy being taken care of.

Ford F-150 : OK, please step away from the gun rack and don’t shoot the messenger here. Lorraine says that the men driving these trucks tend to be insecure and overcompensate on a tough, macho level. And the little woman on the seat next to them? They’re looking for someone to protect them.

Toyota Camry : These cars attract drivers who Lorraine called “solid, reliable and committed” – and the women they attract tend to be sweet, level-headed, uncomplicated and undemanding.

Last but not least, of course, is the Corvette . Lorraine says these drivers are “conservative but trying to satisfy a mid-life crisis by displaying their wild side through their car.” Lucky for them, they attract “hot, bad girls that are impulsive, wild and rebellious.”

I’d be interested to see her take on the women who drive these cars – and the kind of men they attract. I’m guessing it would go something like this:

Chevy Suburban : Has more kids than she has hands, and consequently spends much of her time transporting them to and from soccer/guitar/baseball practice. Secretly longs for a two-seater with a really good stereo system and a man who’s had a vasectomy.

Mercedes S-Class : This woman is career-driven and enjoys the finer things in life. She is looking for a man who (a) is not threatened by her success and (b) does not consider “moving back home with mother” a viable retirement plan.

Ford F150 : Not afraid of hard work, this little lady loves being in the driver’s seat. She wants a man who knows when it’s time to sit down, shut up, pop open a beer and ride shotgun.

Toyota Camry : Here’s good news for all the accountants out there! This car is piloted by a no-nonsense woman who craves a good value and longevity. The man who wins her heart will be loyal, consistent … and probably about as exciting as a box of hammers.

Corvette : The woman at the wheel of this car thinks that mid-life crises are for sissies, and she doesn’t have the time or patience to listen to her man whine about losing his hair. She wants to get where she’s going fast, and wants to look good getting there. In fact, she would probably rather race most men than date them. And she would probably win.

Morrissette, Mercedes Get Green

Most of us best recall Alanis Morrissette as the gal who made ex-boyfriends around the world squirm uncomfortably whenever her songs came on the air. But it’s been 13 years since she gave us “You Oughta Know,” and today Alanis is singing a different tune.

No longer the angry young woman, today she is an environmentally minded artist and has gone from being green with envy to simply being green. And for her latest video, she wants to take audiences along for the ride.

To that end, she has partnered with Mercedes-Benz, showcasing their E320 BlueTEC in her latest video, “Underneath.” The first single from her new album, Flavors of Entanglement, the video revolves around Morrissette and her concern for the environment. It shows her wearing a “Save the Earth” T-shirt at a Los Angeles bus stop and then distributing fliers about the environment – presumably on recycled paper.

Mercedes gets in the act when the E320 BlueTEC passes, and she salutes the driver for their environmentally aware choice. So what made the BlueTEC her eco-friendly car of choice?

First off, it uses a state-of-the-art engine and exhaust technology, which produces the cleanest diesels available. That allows the V6 to provide the power of a V8 with the fuel consumption of a four-cylinder compact. Neat trick, huh?

Beyond the immediate benefit of fuel efficiency, the long-term benefit includes significantly lower carbon dioxide emissions. The Benz E320 BlueTEC was impressive enough to be named the 2007 World Green Car by automotive journalists – and clearly that’s good enough for Alanis.

In case the sedan isn’t your style, this fall Mercedes will roll out a trio of SUVs – the ML320 BlueTEC, the larger GL320 BlueTEC and the less-easy-to-define-as-a-SUV R320 BlueTEC. So if you want to help Alanis save the planet, check out these cars. If not, don’t worry – I won’t say anything. We’ve all seen how she can be when she’s mad…

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Exploring the “Women Driver” Stereotype

Ohio Electric Car A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to write a story on Chuck Murphy, a Texas car collector with a garage full of unique and antique cars. He has plenty of cars to catch the attention of any gearhead, but the one that I found most fascinating was his 1914 Ohio Electric Dresden Brougham – one of the first electric cars ever made.

Murphy’s model is in pristine condition, and even comes with the original accessories. He explained that the electric cars were sold only to women and were seen as the perfect vehicle for their target market, as they were clean to drive and ran quietly. They were designed specifically for and sold exclusively to women of means – a.k.a. the luxury car lovers of the day – and today their $2,900 price tag would translate to about $80,000.

Chuck explained to me that the cars were created primarily as “social vehicles.” They were intended for women to get back and forth from social visits, and as proof of that, he showed me the original accessory kit that was included with the car. Instead of tools, this roadside emergency kit contains a tiny mirror, a sterling silver comb, perfumed papers for “refreshing oneself” before a visit and a mechanical pencil attached to a tiny pad of unlined paper. He said that, in the event of a breakdown or accident, these wealthy ladies wouldn’t be expected to know what to do, so the tool kit was seen as pointless.

The most interesting information about the car, however, was Chuck’s observation that it just might be responsible for launching the “women driver” jokes. The car’s interior is spacious, but is designed more like Cinderella’s carriage than a working sedan. Seats at the front of the car face the back, so passengers can talk to the driver and other passengers, who are seated on a bench-style seat at the rear. Visibility is almost zero even without passengers; toss in a couple of ladies with big hats, and you will find yourself depending upon luck to keep it out of the ditches.

“I really think this was the start of all those ‘women driver’ and ‘backseat driver’ jokes,” Chuck told me, pointing out that this car is, indeed, steered from the back seat. “Once you put passengers in the car, it was almost impossible to see where you were going.”

Everybody Loves Sarah

Posted in: General, Women Drivers

Sarah FisherIt sounds like a plot twist that only Hollywood could conceive.

With time running out before her history-making turn as the first female driver/team owner to participate in the Indianapolis 500, Sarah Fisher received last-minute sponsorship from television star Patricia Heaton and her husband, actor/director/producer David Hunt. The couple was in Indianapolis, where Heaton is serving as grand marshal of the 2008 IPL 500 Festival Parade, when they heard of Fisher’s unusual situation. Although she qualified to run in the 92nd Indy 500, her promised sponsorship from an energy drink company didn’t materialize. So Heaton, best known as the star of Everybody Loves Raymond, and her husband stepped in and stepped up.

Heaton and Hunt’s production company, FourBoys Films, have become a sponsor for Fisher and her No. 67 Honda Dallara. With just a day to go before the race, Fisher’s prospects of finding sponsorship had seemed grim.

“I’m a big fan of Everybody Loves Raymond and just to know that Patricia and David were touched by our passion for open-wheel racing is inspiring to me,” says Fisher, who starts 22nd in today’s race. Check for results at Indycar.com.

Can’t Keep a Good Gal Down

Sarah Fisher qualified for the Indianapolis 500 for the seventh time last weekend, but Sunday’s race marksDriver/owner Sarah Fisher the first time she’ll be making laps as both a driver and a team owner. In fact, it’s the first time any woman has ever done that. The accomplishment, as great as it is, is somewhat bittersweet – Fisher was promised a sponsorship by an energy drink company but the check is, apparently, still in the mail.

Still, despite her lack of funding, Fisher has remained upbeat and seemingly undaunted in interviews. She knows that her chances of winning are about as slim as her wallet at this point, but she isn’t about to miss her history-making run. Fisher is showing that, like so many things in life, it’s more about the journey than the end results. If we had such a thing on this site as our She-ro of the Week, it would definitely go to Sarah Fisher.

If you want to show your support for the woman who was only the third female ever to qualify for the Indy 500, maybe you should pick up a new pair of TAG Heuer sunglasses. The motorsport-inspired eyewear company has been one of Fisher’s supporters since 2002, and they’re a favorite among racers because their flexible temples fit under helmets. However, for those of you who don’t wear a helmet – they just look good. So grab a pair and be sure to cheer on Sarah during Sunday’s race!

Down Memory Lane

Brigitte Bardot

While the entertainment world flocks to the Cannes Film Festival this week, it’s a great time to look at the role that one particular car played in Cannes more than 50 years ago.

Back in 1955, actress Brigitte Bardot turned heads even more than usual when, instead of arriving at Cannes by train, she pulled up in a French-made Simca. And, as the media of the day noted, she wore a “summer dress that unveils her shoulders.” Not exactly a Britney moment, but racy enough for the day, I guess.

It’s unclear when Bardot began her association with Simca, but it appears that the two enjoyed a long and mutually satisfying relationship. In 1954, the car company gave the screen star this prototype of its Weekend convertible. She continued using that car in advertisements for the company, including this undated magazine photo (top) which shows her “Enjoying the open air in her Simca Weekend.”

Bardot loved the Simca Weekend convertible so much that she kept it until 2004. Today, it enjoys a place at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, where the handmade dove-gray car sits alongside some 400 other rare and unusual autos. The serial number on this sleek vehicle, which loosely resembles a Fiat, is 001.

The bottom picture is the car as it appears today at the museum.

So, Helio, Where’s That Speedo?

Posted in: General, Women Drivers

Texas Motor Speedway\'s Danica Patrick adThere’s no question that Danica Patrick, in addition to being an excellent driver, is a very attractive woman. And since sex sells, Texas Motor Speedway is using her beauty to help encourage foot traffic at the track.

The Speedway’s latest advertising campaign gives Reason No. 7 for attending the Bombardier Learjet 550 race at the track on June 7: Danica. And they’ve used a photo from Danica’s recent Sports Illustrated swimsuit spread to help reinforce that message.

It’s a beautiful photo, as one would expect – it shows her as a strong, sexy woman. But if they’re going to advertise female drivers as pin-ups, doesn’t it only seem fair that they take the same approach with the male drivers? In other words – we expect to see Helio Castroneves appearing soon on a billboard wearing his Speedo. In fact, since he’s also scheduled to be at the June 7 event, there’s still time to make that happen. How ’bout it, Helio?