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Automotive Internet Research Soars

Posted by Bill Sluben on August 28, 2009

In an article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Kevin Helliker outlines the success of start up internet sites that allow consumers to research and shop for cars.  In fact, nearly 100 of these sites have been launched in the past year even as car sales in the U.S. have plummeted by over 30%.  That brings the total number of automotive sites to over 5,000.

The Internet and it’s ease of researching vehicles and influencing purchase decisions has skyrocketed as of late.  And no niche has been overlooked.  Consider gaywheels.com, a site for LGBT enthusiasts established by industry vet Joe LaMuraglia.  Gaywheels.com ranks vehicle preferences and purchases among gays.  “Gay men are four times more likely to own a Volkswagen that the average customer,” says Mr. LaMuraglia.

Demand for these sites are increasing according to a recent survey by J.D. Powers completed in 2008 that found that 75% of car buyers conducted research on-line before completing a vehicle purchase.   The emergence of the wired and educated consumer has led to multiple iPhone apps where consumers are armed with the latest product and pricing information as they are negotiating a deal in the showroom.  The paradigm of car buying has certainly shifted!

Consumers will always have a need and desire to touch and experience a vehicle prior to making the purchase decision, whether that be at the dealership or at an event. Now however they have evened the playing field with the salesforce, no longer fearing that they are not getting a good deal.

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