December 12, 2002

Automobile manufacturer’s web-sites becoming more useful says survey

Westlake Village, California – Overall site usefulness continues to increase for visitors to U.S. automotive manufacturer web sites, and these visits are increasing consumer likelihood to test drive a vehicle, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2002 Manufacturer Web Site Evaluation Study-Wave 2 released on December 10th.

The study finds that 43 percent of vehicle shoppers rate the site they visit as outstanding. Additionally, those rating a manufacturer site as outstanding are more likely to test drive a vehicle from that make than they were prior to visiting the Web site. With an industry average index score of 728, overall site usefulness is up 11 points from the Wave 1 measurement just six months ago.

“Manufacturer Web sites are continuing to improve and are successfully driving incremental consumer traffic to dealerships,” said Scott Weitzman, senior director of Internet research at J.D. Power and Associates. “Consumers identify the Web site’s home page as the key to the impression a brand makes online. A strong presentation focusing on the models and their features can translate the virtual visit into a potential sale on the lot.” is the highest-ranked Web site in the study, improving from 11th overall in the first wave of the 2002 study (published in May 2002). Jeep’s Web site benefits from an uncluttered design, use of clear, clean pictures and a consistent focus on the models. retains its second-place ranking with unique design attributes and a clean and simple-to-use interface. improves from 19th place to third overall on the strength of a redesigned site that clearly resonates with consumers. Lexus and Mercedes-Benz round out the top five, respectively. The Mercedes-Benz site was ranked highest in Wave 1.

“It is interesting to see that the most successful Web sites run the gamut from high-end luxury brands to the entry-level makes,” said Weitzman. “Consumers are clearly more interested in the online experience than in confirming preconceived notions about products.”

The 2002 Manufacturer Web Site Evaluation Study is designed to measure the usefulness of manufacturer Web sites based on the relative importance of site design, features and usage. Wave 2 of the study includes the experiences of more than 5,500 Internet users who intend to purchase a vehicle within the next two years. Survey respondents were recruited from a variety of sources including Kelley Blue Book (,, and Yahoo!Autos (

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