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Women Drive Demand for Hot Wheels at Monterey Car Week

PEBBLE BEACH (KPIX) -- Monterey Car Week promises to show off the best of the world's most luxurious and fastest cars. And, this year, automakers say they're seeing more women than ever get behind the wheel and purchase supercars.

Lamborghini says the Urus, its super SUV, is bringing many first-time clients to the brand. The model is the company's most popular car for women. It is now the company's best-selling model, accounting for half of all Lamborghinis sold.

"The Urus really opened up new doors to the female target so that's what we were expecting," said chief marketing and communication officer Katia Bassi. "I believe Urus is, what I call, a generous Lamborghini because you can share the experience with your friends, with your family, with your kids."

It's hoped that the Urus, which starts at $200,000, will bring record growth to Lamborghini this year. It is meant to be more accessible and functional but the twin turbo-charged V-8 with 641 horsepower still roars. The car is fierce, and supposed to be as comfortable for everyday driving as it is for showing off Italian metal-muscle.

"I drive fast cars and I think you're seeing more and more women do that," said Rolls Royce owner Lee Bailey of Dallas.

Bailey is at Monterey Car Week to pick up her Rolls Royce Cullinan, Rolls' first all-terrain SUV. The Cullinan starts at $325,000. Lee is retired but she and her husband owned dozens of McDonald's franchises.

"I think it's a matter of women becoming more assertive, more self-confident. Many of them earn their own living, provide their own homes and they're stepping up and finding out all the fun that the men have been having all these years," she said.

Rolls Royce says women make up 20 percent of its customers in the U.S., about double company's global average.

Even on the racetrack, Ferrari says it's seeing more female drivers. The North America Ferrari Challenge hosts 50 clients at each race. Five years ago, there were no female participants. Today, there are about four at each race, competing with the men.

"I think women want to celebrate themselves, they want to experience a new thing, they like the emotion they can get out of a car," said Matteo Torre, president of Ferrari North America.

Ultra luxury car companies are taking notice. They're fine-tuning more of their design options to fit a feminine sensibility. For example, Lee Bailey's other Rolls Royce was customized to match her watch colors. She had 44,000 colors to choose from.

"I see it more as an extension of yourself, as an accessory," she said.

It's something Lamborghini's chief marketing officer Katia Bassi understands well. She is the company's first female executive and she also created its first female advisory board.

"I can see that the automotive business is very traditional and what I hope is that they open their eyes and they can see that they can incorporate different experiences."

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