Using the internet to research new fleet vehicles

In the past, buying a new vehicle could take some time - both for consumers and the managers of vehicle fleets. The usual process would involve visiting various dealerships, assessing booklets full of information and speaking to a range of salespeople.

Thanks to the internet, this doesn't have to be the case, and buyers can assess every vehicle directly from a computer.

What are the benefits?

The greatest benefit is certainly the reduced need to travel to various dealerships - especially for those who have to run a business.

All major car, van and truck manufacturers have comprehensive websites with detailed information on every vehicle currently for sale. This means it's easy to print off any materials and review them as required. There's also the ability to compare and contrast vehicles from different auto makers, and easily work out fuel consumption costs.

Certain manufacturers also offer car building applications online, which enable buyers to assess various engines, colours, wheels, interiors and auxiliary features. What's more, the majority of these car builders also update the price based on the features added.

Any other considerations?

Fleet managers shouldn't carry out the entire purchase online, however, as it is also important to inspect the vehicles, checking space and quality in person.

Visiting dealerships also allows the buyer to establish a reputation with the seller - useful for working out maintenance agreements and trade-ins further down the line.

Australians going online

Many Australians would appear to recognise the benefits of buying vehicles online, as a new study from Roy Morgan Research shows.

A substantial 30 per cent of Australians over the age of 14 (5.8 million) now research vehicles online prior to carrying out a purchase. This is over a six month period, and is up from 17 per cent in 2002.

Roy Morgan noted that Australians would search online even if they weren't actually in the market for a new vehicle. However, when the study shifted to those intending to buy a new car within the next year, 59 per cent stated that they would research "at least one aspect" online.

"44 per cent used the internet to check vehicle specs and 39 per cent to check prices. It is also notable that 27 per cent of intenders went online to locate a dealer and 25 per cent made enquiries," said Industry director at Roy Moran Jordan Pakes.

"In a more competitive environment, manufacturers and dealers will need to keep an extra close eye on the channels people use to research, and then decide on their potential next vehicle."

With so many factors ranking highly on the vehicle buying priority list, fleet managers will need to ensure that they're exploring every possible avenue prior to a purchase.