WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. – Consumers in the market for new and used vehicles are relying on dealerships' Web sites more, J.D. Power and Associates research shows. Traffic to dealerships' Web sites by used-vehicle buyers is up 19% over 2001, according to the J.D. Power and Associates' 2002 Used Autoshopper.com StudyT. The findings said the marketing information services firm, underscore the growing role the Internet is playing in the used-vehicle shopping process.. The study based on the responses from more than 10,000 owners of used vehicles who purchased pre-owned 1997-2002 model-year vehicles found that 47% of late-model used-vehicle buyers used the Internet during the shopping process in 2002, up 10% from 2001 and an 80% increase since 1999. Among these automotive Internet users, 43% visited dealership sites in 2002, compared to only 36% who did so in 2001. On average, the study showed, Internet users visit about five dealerships' Web sites during the shopping process. Additional findings of the study showed that: * used-vehicle buyers who use the Internet overwhelmingly turn to independent sites such as Kelley Blue Book and AutoTrader.com for shopping and research purposes. Ninety-two percent visited at least one independent site; * Kelley Blue Book continues to be the most frequented Web site by used-vehicle buyers – 55% visited the site in 2002. AutoTrader.com is the second-most visited site, but it also controls the single largest share (28%) of used-vehicles found online that are subsequently purchased; * price-related data remains the most important type of information looked for online by used-vehicle buyers, with vehicle reliability information and trade-in values also rating high in importance; The J.D. Power and Associates' 2002 Used Autoshopper.com Study. is based on the responses from more than 10,000 owners of used vehicles who purchased pre-owned 1997-2002 model-year vehicles. In another piece of research by the company, the findings indicate that the average automotive Internet user visits seven Web sites while shopping for a new vehicle and starts the online shopping process nearly two months before they make their purchase. Of the 60% of new-vehicle buyers who use the Internet while shopping, the study showed 88% visit automotive Web sites before arriving at the dealership for a test drive. The survey also found that third-party automotive Web sites are the most popular sites among new-vehicle buyers in the U.S. Around 82% of new-vehicle buyers visited third-party automotive sites in 2002, while 76% visited a manufacturer's site, and 48% visited dealer sites. However, the study also showed that while new-vehicle buyers research online, most continue to buy offline. Only 4% of new-vehicle buyers in the U.S. currently use the Internet as a purchasing tool, according to J.D. Powers and Associates.

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