Online cars sales blossom

Still not as popular as 'making love to a beautiful woman', but getting there...

Still not as popular as 'making love to a beautiful woman', but getting there...

Over the past year, UK sales of cars via the internet have leapt tenfold. Research out today from Cap Gemini Ernst & Young shows that 1.1 per cent of all car sales in the UK are made online. It's a fairly small figure but still a promising start. Figures from Gartner2 suggest that in 2001 the total number of online car sales will hit 17,000, growing to 33,000 next year. Manufacturers aren't in favour of exchanges such as jamjar.com that sell a range of brands side by side and are particularly keen to use their own websites to connect potential buyers directly to their dealer network. Only two carmakers sell directly on the web - Ford and Vauxhall. But even then, the latter is only managing a few hundred a month and the former even less. The efforts of car manufacturers usually revolve around configuration of orders and product information - an area that has seen great improvement over the past year. The actual purchase is then passed on to the dealers - online or offline - to make the sale. This buying strategy is quickly gaining popularity with customers. According to Gartner2 research, an impressive 33 per cent of car buyers carry out research online to arm themselves with information before tackling the infamous car salesman. The car salesman, satirised by the likes of the Fast Show's Swiss Tony, has proved a barrier to some car sales. Michael Dornan, automotive specialist for Gartner2 research said: "One of the problems for car companies is that people just don't trust the dealers." It tends to be customers that are really keen to make a saving on the new car purchase that are at all interested in online buying. At the moment there aren't really any other benefits. Delivery wait, for instance, is about four months if you buy from jamjar.com, according to Dornan.