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Pounding the pavement to buy a car

November 16, 2010

Some products lend themselves to online sales— books, computers and toys come to mind. But cars are a tougher sell.

Most consumers still head to the lot to seal the deal. According to The New York Times, direct sales of new cars over the Internet will increase from 100,000 in 2007 to just 300,000 in 2012, when they will represent only 1.7 percent of all new cars sold.

On the other hand, the number of consumers who use the Internet to contact a dealer for more information (that then results in a sale) will rise to 7.7 million from 5.1 million over the same period.

The online outlook for financing and insurance is sunny. The firm Jupiter Research forecast this month that direct auto financing over the Web will rise to more than $19 billion in 2012 from $13 billion in 2007, and direct online auto insurance sales will climb to $11.7 billion from $6.6 billion.