Only 4 Percent of Internet Users Have Purchased an Automobile Online

Although Internet users heavily traffic automotive sites in the `cyber-world’, the key site they visit when buying a car is still the actual `real-world’ dealership, according to a recent national survey of 1000 U.S. households conducted by Taylor Nelson Sofres Intersearch.

More and more Internet users are truly doing their auto shopping “homework” by gathering vehicle information and pricing online, in the comfort of their own homes. Despite its growing popularity as an information source, very few Internet users buy their new or used vehicles online.

Almost half of the Internet users interviewed (47%) reported they had obtained information about new cars and trucks while online, and more than one-third (37%) have obtained used car and truck prices. This high level of use starkly contrasts to the handful of users who have bought a new or used vehicle online (4% each).

Findings also indicate that online vehicle sales from individual owners are still low (2%). Few U.S. Internet users have purchased or sold vehicles online, with only 4 percent of users having purchased a new vehicle online, and only 2 percent having sold a vehicle via the Internet.

“The full effect of the Internet on the automotive industry is still unknown,” said Sheri Lambert, Executive Manager of Automotive Group at TNS Intersearch. “While many manufacturers and dealers are worried about the impact the Internet will have, only a small percentage of U.S. new vehicle buyers are actually buying via the Internet. Our research shows that the traditional purchasing channel represented by the local dealership is still the primary point of sale.”

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Current Internet
Activity Current Internet Users Who Plan to
Users Who Perform This
Performed This Activity in the
Activity Next 6 Months
---------------------------------- ---------------- -----------------
Find information on new cars/truck 47% 7%
---------------------------------- ---------------- -----------------
Find used car/truck prices 37% 7%
---------------------------------- ---------------- -----------------
Purchase a used car/truck 4% 4%
---------------------------------- ---------------- -----------------
Purchase a new car/truck 4% 4%
---------------------------------- ---------------- -----------------
Sell a vehicle 2% 5%
---------------------------------- ---------------- -----------------

Source: TNS Intersearch’s weekly national omnibus study (TNS Express) March 2000.

TNS Intersearch, founded in 1960, is a full-service international survey firm with 400 full-time employees and is the ninth largest custom market research company in the U.S. The company is headquartered in Horsham, PA and has client service offices in major cities throughout the United States. TNSI is the U.S. headquarters of Taylor Nelson Sofres, one of the world’s largest market research companies with more than 150 offices in over 40 countries.

According to Inside Research, Taylor Nelson Sofres is ranked as the fastest-growing market research company in the world and has named Tony Cowling, the company’s CEO, “Market Research Executive of the Decade.”