A nationwide survey of more than 600 auto enthusiasts--conducted last week for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and GR8RIDE.com, the leading online resource for automotive enthusiasts, by Beta Research--revealed that 85 percent of automotive enthusiasts use the Internet as a source of information and ideas for car and truck improvement and modification projects, and 60 percent have actually purchased parts online.

"The research indicates that the Internet has become a major resource for automotive enthusiasts seeking information as well as actually purchasing automotive parts and accessories," said Charles R. Blum, president of SEMA. "The data suggests that these consumers are shifting to the Internet in their shopping habits, thereby creating a great opportunity for online automotive sites to establish a new marketplace for automotive enthusiasts."

"The results of this survey prove that the Internet model of providing consumers with a one-stop, all-inclusive approach with everything from product reviews, to installation advice, to the most comprehensive online auto parts store, is exactly what auto lovers want and need," said George Vrabeck, CEO of GR8Ride.com.

Other highlights of the study include:

-- 85 percent of consumers have used the Internet to look for

specialty and custom parts and accessories -- 60 percent have used the Internet to purchase specialty parts for

their vehicles -- 69 percent of auto enthusiasts look to the Internet for

information before beginning a project -- More than 50 percent have accessed the Internet at least 20 times

in the past 30 days, while about 50 percent spend at least 5 hours

a week on the Internet -- More than 50 percent visit online auto parts, auto manufacturer

and auto project sites -- Approximately 50 percent use the Internet to showcase their

finished vehicles -- On average, auto enthusiasts spend $6600 a year on specialty parts

for their vehicles -- Auto enthusiasts who have purchased parts online shop 37% more

often than those who have not purchased parts online -- Auto enthusiasts who purchase parts online spend 21% more on their

projects than those who do not purchase parts online

The data underscores an overarching trend that the Internet enables people to focus on their niche interests to not only gather information and conduct research, but to act on those interests by making purchases.

"Consumers see the positive impact the Internet is making by simplifying the way they purchase specialty and custom auto parts. In that way Internet technology is enhancing their experience in many more personal and lasting ways," added Vrabeck.

SEMA and GR8RIDE.com commissioned the study of more than 600 subscribers to automotive publications. The study was performed by Beta Research to assess attitudes towards the Internet among specialty and custom auto parts buyers. Beta Research conducted the survey on October 9-16, 2000. A total of 600 responses were received and tabulated. The margin of error is +/- 4.0 percent.