Most Useful Auto Manufacturer Site for New-Car Shopping

July 1, 2008

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Automotive | Retail & E-Commerce ranks highest among automotive manufacturer websites for usefulness in new-vehicle shopping, according to (pdf)?the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Manufacturer Web Site Evaluation Study (MWES) – Wave 2.

The semi-annual study measures the usefulness of automotive manufacturer websites during the new-vehicle shopping process. New-vehicle shoppers evaluate websites in four key areas: appearance, speed, navigation and information/content.

Kia ranks highest with an index score of 872 on a 1,000-point scale – marking a nine-point increase from the last wave of the study, which was released in January 2008.


Closely following Kia are Ford (871) and Mazda (870), with Ford performing particularly well in the appearance factor. Also performing significantly above the industry average are Honda, Jeep, Lincoln, Porsche, BMW, Cadillac and Subaru.

The study also finds the following key patterns:

  • Satisfaction with a manufacturer website tends to increase shopper visits to the dealership, as 75% of shoppers who give high ratings on a site are more likely to go to a dealership to test drive a vehicle.
  • Overall satisfaction with manufacturer websites has increased to 849 – eight points more than the previous wave of the study.
  • In particular, satisfaction with loading speed has increased as manufacturer websites have employed a variety of techniques – such as better navigation schemes, more aggressive caching, better page load order and pre-loading of content – to offer rich content that loads quickly.

“Over the years, Kia has successfully satisfied shoppers with its straightforward, intuitive website by providing pages that load quickly and that are easy to navigate,” said Arianne Walker, director of marketing/media research at J.D. Power and Associates. “By focusing on these key aspects of the website experience, Kia has continually met the expectations of its customers. In fact, this marks the fourth time in 10 reporting waves that Kia has ranked highest.”

On average, most manufacturer websites undergo a major redesign every two to three years. While redesigns can eventually lead to increased satisfaction, small updates to improve critical areas on a manufacturer website – such as information and content and ease of navigation – can also positively impact the customer experience in a more cost-effective manner.

In particular, Ford and Porsche have made frequent tweaks and updates to their sites, all leading to a steady increase in satisfaction scores during the past four years, without a major redesign. Specifically, after enhancing navigation following the second wave of MWES in 2007, these manufacturers have also made significant improvements in speed since January 2008.

About the study: The 2008 Manufacturer Web Site Evaluation Study – Wave 2 is based on evaluations gathered in April 2008 from more than 11,400 new-vehicle shoppers who indicated they would be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 24 months.

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