Westlake Village, California – New-vehicle buyers are using the Internet more than ever when researching vehicle information, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates.

The study found that 75 per cent of new-vehicle buyers in 2008 are using the Internet during their shopping process, compared with 70 per cent in 2007, the largest year-over-year increase in online shopping since 2001. The total amount of time shoppers spent online researching information has also increase by 12 per cent since 2007, to more than six and a half hours. Meanwhile, the number of sites visited has remained relatively flat, suggesting that consumers have become more engaged with the sites they currently visit.

“The current economic environment, coupled with high fuel prices, has given rise to a shift in the vehicle buying habits of U.S. consumers,” said Arianne Walker, director of marketing/media research. “Shoppers who were once loyal to larger vehicle models are now finding themselves in the market for a compact or midsize car. For many, this is unknown territory, and these shoppers are turning to the Internet for information and education about the vehicles in their new consideration set. The resulting demand for information provides automoive marketers with valuable opportunities to reach out to shoppers via the Internet.”

The study also found that shoppers view independent, third-party sites such as Edmunds.com and Kelley Blue Book as being most useful for researching prices and ratings, reviews and forums, while manufacturers’ sites are most useful for their information on options, features and specifications, and dealer sites the most useful for inventory information.

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