Car Shopping, Internet Style

More new-car shoppers are using the Internet to find automotive information, increasing from 25 per cent in 1998 to 40 per cent during the first quarter of 1999, according to a study conducted by J.D. Power & Associates.

The research firm predicted that number will be more than 65 per cent of shoppers by the end of next year. The 1999 New study said more than five million buyers will use the Internet for information to make car purchases this year. The average Internet shopper visits six automotive sites, spending more than four hours researching information, J.D. Power said.

Out of the 3,200 buyers surveyed, one-third crossed at least one car off their list after finding information on-line, J.D. Power said. That spells bad news for manufacturers and retailers, as customers narrow their choices at home rather than coming out for test drives, the research firm said.

In addition, if a vehicle has any problems, it will be posted on-line, J.D. Power added.

While there is optimism surrounding car buying on the Internet, shoppers prefer not to do their financing through the Internet and won’t return to it for help with car maintenance, J.D. Power said.