Toyota will Win, Uber well…
Now that the final frontier for female drivers is conquered, how is this going to change for the makers of cars and the people who drive them? Automologist MAC has a few ideas…
In a move that is designed to boost the local economy, the ultra-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia is finally changing its laws on female drivers and allowing women to drive in the kingdom, thus ending a long-standing policy that, to say the least, cast a very unflattering light on the country’s treatment of the fairer sex. What most reports have failed to mention though, is just how this small step for mankind could dramatically impact the fortunes of the Arabian economy, and perhaps further afield too.
Saudi Arabia is a country of 32 million citizens, and now 16 million of them can drive for themselves, which of course will have a profound impact of new car sales as the ladies start to do it for themselves for the first time. Toyota and Hyundai, which account for 56% of the total market share, are the market leaders in the country, and who supply the market mostly with large SUVs are already looking to boost their inventories with smaller (dare I say it) more feminine models, better suited for single working women or lady students.
In Saudi, women could not drive for routine chores, like getting the kids to school; these were achieved either by a hired driver or by hiring Uber. Traditionally, Saudis hire private drivers to work for their families, tens of thousands of them primarily from the Philippines and Pakistan. This decision will impact this section of the workforce and possible change migration trends, at least by a bit.
Uber is trying to put on a brave face about it all by issuing a statement claiming that it is proud to have been of service to Saudi women. But, 80% of the Uber riders in Saudi were women and my intuition tells me that so very many of them will want to get a slice of driving freedom ASAP. Of course, you could argue that now the ladies can drive, this does in fact add a massive pool of drivers that Uber could tap into; now, that is a thought.
Image source: Middle East Monitor