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Big jump in Internet shopping for used vehicles: J.D. Power study

November 17, 2010

A majority of used-vehicle buyers who use the Internet to conduct vehicle research during the shopping process—and more than six in 10 buyers do—buy a vehicle that they find online, according to a J.D. Power and Associates study released Dec. 11. This reflects a substantial increase since 2007.

The Used-Vehicle Market Report provides a comprehensive industry overview of the entire late-model used-vehicle market and is designed to provide automotive manufacturers and marketers with insightful information on the shopping and purchasing habits of used-vehicle buyers.

The report finds that, among used-vehicle buyers who used the Internet while shopping for their vehicle in 2008, 61 percent found the vehicle they ultimately purchased on the Internet. In the 2007 J.D. Power study, that figure was 48 percent.

While the percentage of used-vehicle buyers who use the Internet to shop for their used vehicle has increased only marginally from 2007, buyers who shop online spent more time conducting online research in 2008 and visited more Web sites, compared with 2007. The amount of time that used-vehicle buyers spend researching vehicles online increased by 18 percent, from an average of 7.3 hours in 2007 to 8.6 hours in ’08. The average number of manufacturer Web sites visited by shoppers increased from 2.7 in ’07 to 3.2 in ’08.

"Although there hasn’t been a large increase in the percentage of used-vehicle buyers using the Internet to shop in 2008, those who did use it are spending more time online, visiting more sites and are utilizing the features and benefits of automotive Web sites to a greater degree than ever before," said Jon Osborn of J.D. Power. "The Internet has emerged as a particularly effective medium for used-vehicle shoppers to find the specific vehicles they desire, as well as for dealers and private parties to get their used vehicles sold."

The report, which also examines certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle programs, finds that among buyers who purchase CPO vehicles, 56 percent are made aware of CPO programs by salespeople at dealerships. About 38 percent of customers also cite the salesperson as the most influential reason for purchasing a CPO vehicle.

Online sources of information also are effective at raising awareness of CPO programs. In particular, more buyers cite automotive Web sites as instrumental to their awareness of CPO programs and vehicles than other types of media, including television, radio and print.

A greater percentage of buyers who purchase CPO vehicles use the Internet in their shopping process (66 percent), compared with buyers of non-CPO vehicles of the same make (58 percent). In addition, import luxury brands lead the industry in providing high levels of satisfaction with the CPO buying experience.