Sixty-two percent of all new-vehicle buyers are turning to the Internet for automotive information while shopping for their vehicle. Most of these shoppers go online for automotive information before they begin visiting dealers, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2001 New Study(SM) released Nov. 26. The study shows an eight-percentage-point growth in automotive Internet usage this year -- up from 54 percent in 2000. "The Internet provides automotive shoppers with information of real value that not only continues to attract new users, but also keeps them coming back for more," said Chris Denove, partner and senior director of automotive retail research at J.D. Power and Associates. On average, an automotive Internet user visits 6.8 automotive sites before making a purchase. Automotive Internet users indicate a clear preference for independent, third-party Web sites. Manufacturer sites were the preferred choice only for looking up vehicle facts such as options and features information. Independent sites were preferred for anything related to pricing or buying. According to the study, Kelley Blue Book ( remains the most visited site for the fourth straight year while was viewed as the most useful Web site. was the most frequently visited manufacturer site. "The best way for a manufacturer to drive traffic to its Web site is to feature the site as part of its traditional advertising campaign," said Denove. "Companies such as BMW and Isuzu that instituted offline campaigns to drive customers to their Web site saw the largest increases in automotive Internet usage." The study findings show that again sells more vehicles online than any other independent Web site service. GM is the leading factory-sponsored Web site for generating online new-vehicle sales. Industry wide, 6 percent of all new vehicles were sold through an online buying service -- up from 4.7 percent in 2000. For 2001, the New Study was expanded to capture a larger sample size providing a more in-depth analysis of industry-wide sites. The study is based on responses from more than 26,400 consumers who purchased new 2001 and 2002 model year vehicles. About J.D. Power and Associates With headquarters in Agoura Hills, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services firm operating in business sectors including market research, forecasting, consulting, training and customer satisfaction. The firm's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on actual responses from millions of consumers annually. J.D. Power and Associates can be accessed through the Internet at