Consumers are finding vehicle manufacturers' web sites more and more useful, and more test drives than ever before are being inspired by them, according to the J D Power '2002 Manufacturer Web Site Evaluation Study'.
The study found that 43% of vehicle shoppers rate the manufacturer's web site they visited as "outstanding", and now claim to be more likely to test drive a vehicle of that make than they were before visiting the site.
"Manufacturer Web sites are continuing to improve and are successfully driving incremental consumer traffic to dealerships," noted Scott Weitzman, senior director of internet research at J D Power and Associates. "Consumers say that the web site's home page is the key to the impression each brand makes online."
Not surprisingly, then, a strong web site presentation focusing on the different vehicle models and their features can translate a virtual visit into a test drive, and a potential sale.
Web site rankings
According to the study, Jeep.com is the highest-ranked web site, having come from 11th position in May 2002. Jeep's web site has an uncluttered design, and carries simple, clear pictures, never deviating from its focus on the models available.
Kia.com has kept its 2nd position ranking, with a clean and easy-to-use web site interface. Meanwhile, Subaru.com is in 3rd position (up from 19th position) on the strength of a redesigned web site. Lexus took 4th position, followed by Mercedes Benz (down from 1st position in May 2002).
"Consumers are clearly more interested in the online experience than in confirming preconceived notions about products," commented Weitzman.