Traffic to dealership web sites by US used-vehicle buyers is up 19% over 2001 as the Internet continues to play an increasingly important role in the used-vehicle shopping process, according to the JD Power and Associates 2002 Used Autoshopper.com study.

The study finds that 47% of late-model used-vehicle buyers have used the Internet during the shopping process in 2002-a 10% increase over 2001, and an 80% increase since 1999. Among these automotive Internet users, 43% have visited dealership sites in 200, compared
to only 36% in 2001. On average, Internet users visit approximately five dealership Web sites during the shopping process.

“Dealership Web sites are making their greatest impact on used-vehicle buyers. Despite arriving on the Internet scene after independent and manufacturer sites had established themselves, dealer sites offer some of the most detailed inventory information available to consumers,” said J.D. Power senior director of automotive Internet research Scott Weitzman.

Used-vehicle buyers who use the Internet overwhelmingly turn to independent sites such as Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com) and AutoTrader.com for shopping and research purposes – 92% visit at least one independent site.

Price-related data remains the most important type of information sought online by used-vehicle buyers, with vehicle reliability information and trade-in values also rating high in importance.

Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com) continues to be the most-frequented Web site by used-vehicle buyers, with 55% of automotive Internet users visiting the site in 2002. AutoTrader.com is the second-most-visited site, but also controls the single largest share (28%) of used-vehicles found online and subsequently purchased.

“AutoTrader’s continued domination in the online classified space highlights the continued consumer migration away from published classified ads and toward Internet vehicle listings,” said Weitzman. “The gap between usage of traditional media and usage of the Internet to locate used vehicles has narrowed to just 3%, with 8% of buyers of late-model used vehicles finding their eventual vehicle on the Internet.”

The 2002 Used Autoshopper.com Study is based on responses from more than 10,000 owners of used vehicles who purchased pre-owned 1997-2002 model-year vehicles.