More U.S. new vehicle dealers are finding the Internet a friendly place to do business.

Eighty-three percent of all dealers have Web sites, up from 74 percent last year, according to a survey by the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), which represents 19,300 franchised new-car dealers in the United States.

Sixty-two percent of dealers with Web sites have completed sales online, the first time NADA began tracking that measure, a spokesman said.

"This shows how dealers are embracing the Internet as a new means of marketing products and interacting with customers," NADA Chairman Harold Wells, a new vehicle dealer in Whiteville, N.C., said in a statement.

The survey showed that 98 percent of dealer Web sites are interactive, allowing the customer to send e-mail, order online or obtain financing online.

Dealerships that have been operating Web sites since 1995 generate 13 new vehicle sales a month, while stores that launched Web sites in 1999 or this year generate just five new vehicle sales a month from Internet leads, the survey said.

"The more they work at it, the better they get at it," NADA chief economist Paul Taylor said. "There's a learning curve."
NADA has surveyed dealer Internet use since 1997.

To support dealers' online efforts, NADA has developed its own Web site (www.DriversSeat.com), which links consumers to 750,000 dealer Web sites.