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October 26, 2012

The Honda Fit She's: for the Ladies, or for the Birds?

Fitshe2This is the new Honda Fit She's.  It's a "special edition" of the popular Honda model that is aimed exclusively - you guessed it - at women.  Now, this isn't exactly a new idea - "womens' models" of cars have existed since the automobile, the earliest examples being those in the early 20th century that boasted no hand-crank starting.  Other attempts include the 1950's Dodge LaFemme, and more recently a 2000 Ford Windstar concept (developed with Maytag no less) that included appliances like a microwave and even a washer/dryer in the rear hatch - I suppose so that the mom on the go would never have to leave her "duties" behind.  Yeah, I know.

I'd like to think that these laughable (we have to laugh rather than be offended, right?) efforts were a thing of the past - that we've moved beyond the silly idea that women need some sort of pink plastic Barbie Dream Corvette to truly be happy - but, alas, then a story like the Fit She's comes along.  Let's take a look at this "adult cute" makeover of the popular Fit, shall we?

First of all - and this surprises no one - it's pink.  Pink, pink, pink.  It has a pink exterior, pink details on the dashboard and console, even pink stitching in the seats and on the steering wheel.  To plagarize Steel Magnolias, the thing "looks like it's been hosed down with Pepto Bismol."  Well, some girls like pink - that's true, and fair enough.  I don't mind it myself.  But when the first step you take when designing a car with women in mind is to make it pink, well... it shows a pretty profound lack of understanding.

Shecompl

That's not to say it's all bad - this piece I actually like - it also comes with special windshield glass that cuts 99 percent of ultraviolet rays and a "Plasmacluster" air conditioning system that Honda claims can improve a driver's skin quality.  My only question is:  why are these features not on ALL the Fit cars?  This blogger closes thus, and I agree with him:  "With a starting price of $17,500, the Fit She's got an attractive price for a home-market Japanese car -- but automakers wouldn't need special editions if taking advice from women wasn't such a noteworthy event."  Bravo, sir.

My bottom line?  The Fit She's is cute - sure it is.  But the Fit was already cute.  Take the useful features, put them on the standard model that I can already buy and drive, even though I happen to be a female, get shades of pink and eye-shadow-brown out of your head, lose the cutesy heart-aspostrophe in "She's" (and the rest of the word while you're at it), and know this:  Women buy cars.  Women drive cars.  And you can't categorize us, just as you can't categorize men.  Just like males, we buy compacts, sedans, crossovers, SUV's, and yes, even super-duty pickups.  We're not a narrow demographic, or a low-flying target you can hit by adding a coat of "adult cute."  We are consumers, the same as your male customers. 

You want to market cars to women?  Make good, reliable cars at a reasonable price.  Let us choose whether we want it in pink.  We can handle the decision.

Kaeli Gardner
AskPatty.com

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