A wave of new automotive sites on the Internet is set to change the way Europeans buy cars.
The Internet has already transformed car retailing in the USA. Forty percent of new-car buyers used it to gather information prior to purchase in 1999, according to a survey by J.D. Power and Associates.
Eleven percent submitted at least one purchase request via the Internet and 2.7 percent completed their purchase online. Online purchasing will account for 5 percent of all US new-car sales in 2000, according to J.D. Power.
Europe lags far behind, but is poised to grow rapidly. The ability to buy cars on the Internet in cheaper European markets is expected to drive growth of online car sales - particularly among customers in high-price markets such as the UK and Germany. A UK research group forecasts 20 percent of car purchase decisions will be made online by 2003. More than 65 percent of luxury cars will be chosen online within three years. See Page 4.