An American women’s group has picked the Mini Cooper as its car of the year for 2003. The group has started its own awards to show women also have expectations of the motor industry.

An American women’s group has picked the Mini Cooper as its car of the year for 2003. The group has started its own awards to show women also have expectations of the motor industry.

reports that the group, Women in Automotive Journalism (WAJ) , chose the Mini ahead of the other finalists, the Honda Civic Hybrid, Infiniti G35, Nissan Murano, Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix and Volvo XC90. It is the first time they have held the awards.

They also selected the Honda Civic hybrid propulsion system as the top automotive feature of the year. The other finalists in this category were: the armrest/activity table in the Honda Pilot and the four-wheel steering in GM trucks and SUVs.

"The WAJ Awards, for the first time ever, have given us a strong voice, enabling women to clearly communicate our expectations to those who want our business," said Jean Jennings, chairman of the nine-member WAJ steering committee.

"Few people realise that women control or influence 80 per cent of all vehicle purchase decisions," said Terry Barclay, executive director of the Women’s Economic Club (WEC). "That translates into nearly $300 billion in purchasing power. With that much clout, women automotive consumers can determine the success of today's vehicles."

"This is a great opportunity to get real opinions on how women feel about today's vehicles," said Judy Caldwell, WEC member. "The influence we have on what vehicles are purchased is huge and discussions like these tell the automotive industry our likes, dislikes and what we look for in transportation."

"The fact that this award was judged by a panel of women automotive journalists who test, rate and review vehicles for a living, makes receiving this award a very significant accomplishment indeed," said Jack Pitney, general manager, Mini USA.

Original article from Car