March 2, 2011, 1:57 PM

A third of U.S. consumers say they’re likely to buy a car online

Many think it would be easy and fast, and they expect a lower price.

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One-third of U.S. consumers say they are likely or very likely to purchase a vehicle online, according to the Cars Online 10/11 report from consulting firm Capgemini.

The findings are based on a global survey of more than 8,000 consumers in eight countries. When viewed globally, 41% of consumers say they are likely to buy a car online. Brazil has the highest proportion of consumers open to buying cars online, 75%, followed by China (63%) and India (52%). Across all nations, the top two reasons consumers cited as why they are likely to buy a vehicle online are the ease and speed of the transaction (36%) and an expected price discount (30%). In the U.S., the convenience factor (35%) narrowly beats out the expectation of a price discount (32%). 12% of U.S. consumers say their primary motivation for wanting to buy online is that they do not want to negotiate price in person with a dealer.

“You should be able to specify exactly what you want from the manufacturer and have it delivered directly to you, no dealer required, like buying a Dell computer,” says one survey respondent. Another respondent reasons that business overhead would be lower if dealers sold cars online and that those savings would be passed to buyers in the form of price discounts.

The Capgemini analysis recommends dealers and manufacturers get serious about building online selling capabilities. “A clear opportunity exists to meet the latent consumer demand for end-to-end online vehicle buying,” the report says. It says the role of car dealerships may change toward a focus on service packages and as a place to test drive vehicles.

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