Half of British drivers say they would be happy to buy a new car over the internet rather than visit a traditional dealership.
Forty-eight per cent of motorists asked about their buying habits said they would turn to the internet to find a brand new model if it meant they got a better deal, with many not even interested in test driving their chosen model before committing.
The figure represents a major shift in attitudes with only 15 per cent of those taking part in the study saying that they would have considered buying online a decade ago.
In the research, by budget car maker Dacia, 47 per cent of drivers also highlighted the convenience of buying online as one of the factors that made it an attractive option.
Despite their willingness to consider an online seller, the average driver still visits three dealerships and spends 21 hours researching their purchase. And car buying data from finance provider Close Brothers shows that, despite what they say, only two per cent of people bought their car purely online in 2017.
Pressure of modern life
Dacia is the latest manufacturer to launch a fully online buying option for its models, following the likes of Peugeot and Hyundai. Commenting on the trends, Louise Oâ€™Sullivan, head of Dacia UK, said: â€œOur research shows that consumers are prepared to click and buy whenever and wherever is most convenient for them, regardless of time of day or location, due to the time pressures of everyday life.â€
Sean Kemple, director of sales at Close Brothers Motor Finance said that the growth of online buying options was a challenge for dealerships but also an opportunity.
He commented: â€œAs technology evolves, the way people research and purchase cars is changing. As a result, dealers are undoubtedly facing new challenges. As buyers carry out online research before entering a forecourt, the main challenge is encouraging them to take the next step and walk into a dealership..
â€œWith challenges, come opportunities â€“ the internet is a way to get substantially more eyes on dealersâ€™ stock than ever before. And letâ€™s not forget that drivers still look to dealers for advice and support, even if they are spending more time researching online and less time in the showroom.â€