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Vast Majority of Car Shoppers Worldwide Now Ready to Buy Cars Entirely Online

Nearly half would be happy with a “virtual test drive.”

by on Apr.17, 2015

Chinese car buyers are the most interested in purchasing vehicles entirely online, finds new study.

Eight out of 10 shoppers in key markets around the world now use the Internet to help them choose what vehicle to purchase, and the vast majority would carry that a step forward, according to a new study, completing the car buying process entirely online.

Nearly half, in fact, wouldn’t even bother going to a showroom for a test drive, telling researchers they’d be happy with a “virtual test drive.”

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“The impact of the digital customer is becoming pervasive, disrupting the traditional car-buying experience and the competitive landscape,” said Christina Raab, global managing director for Digital Consumer Services in Accenture’s Automotive practice. “This is clearly supported by the fact that many would consider conducting the entire car-buying process online.”

The results line up with other recent studies of U.S. buying trends that find a growing number of car shoppers quite happy to skip the showroom. One survey found shoppers predicting they may one day see drones delivering their vehicles to home or office.

(Drone delivery? Car shoppers look to the future. Click Here for more.)

What’s particularly significant about the Accenture study is that it approached 10,000 motorists not only in the U.S., but also Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy and Japan, all among the world’s largest automotive markets.

Wherever they went, the researchers found similar trends, starting with the fact that 80% of the drivers surveyed now use some form of digital technology in the research stage, while 62% initiate the car-buying process online, before ever setting foot in a showroom.

And given the opportunity, 75% said, “if given the opportunity, they would consider making their entire car-buying process online, including financing, price negotiation, back office paperwork and home delivery,” according to Accenture.

Meanwhile, 63% said they’d be open to buying a car through an online auction.

(Americans love their car dealers – or they don’t. Surveys give conflicting results. Click Herefor details.)

The new Accenture study did find some differences from one country to the next:

  • U.S. motorists are especially enthused about comparison shopping sites, while Chinese drivers want immediate access to basic information about a vehicle;
  • In turn, the Chinese are the most interested in buying directly online, 92% saying they’ve either done so or would be open to it. By contrast, only 20% of Japanese respondents are open to online buying;
  • More than 80% of Chinese and Indian buyers are open to negotiating finance options online;
  • Indian drivers are the most influenced by car websites and online automotive media, while Japanese motorists are the most likely to do little to no online research. And Italian drivers are most influenced by visiting a dealership.

Nonetheless, the trends suggest that around the world, motorists are being more and more influenced by what they read online, according to Accenture analysts, and want the Internet to play even a bigger role in the car buying process in the future.

(Click Here to see which are the Top 10 Cities for Green-Minded Car Shoppers.)

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4 Responses to “Vast Majority of Car Shoppers Worldwide Now Ready to Buy Cars Entirely Online”

  1. Jorge says:

    Only a very small percentage of people like the haggling, deception, exploitation and gamesmanship associated with buying a car.

    I literally buy my cars over the phone or via e-mail. No hassles, no B.S., just an honest hassle-free purchase. Works for me.

  2. Neil says:

    Every time I see one of these stories I wonder who these people are. Gamers who are so used to virtual reality they think that actual driving is like a video game? People who have so little social skills that they don’t or can’t function very well in a face to face situation?
    I don’t doubt the macro facts presented but truly wonder what are the details regarding the demographics to make an article like this. It may very well be that areas of the world newer to the automotive purchase experiance would rather not get out and look. Or perhaps driving in some of these areas of the world is so bad it doesn’t really matter what the car feels like because there is so much congestion or bad drivers that the feel of the car doesn’t matter.
    I know most people shop ahead of time using on line information and tools – which makes total sense and helps the buying process. But nothing is going to replace the tactile feel of how the controls work, whether the seats are comfortable, is the color what you thought it was on your screen – those things can only be done by going out and moving from virtual to reality.

  3. veh says:

    Neil, ITA. And I think what people SAY and what people DO are not the same thing.

  4. CJ Shank says:

    I would prefer to do all negotiation and get a firm price before going to the dealer. However, even dealers who allow you to contact them via the web, their first question is, when can you stop in? If they are going to have an internet sales department, then let us get a price via that department.