Car dealers are still failing to make the most of sales opportunities offered by the web - with one in four failing to even have a website.
More worryingly still for the car retail industry, a third of dealers remain sceptical that a website successfully delivers sales.
The findings come in a special survey into the online marketing strategies of dealers conducted by automotive intelligence specialists The CAP Network.
Presenting the results to the e-Auto conference, in London, Cap Network editor in chief Mark Cowling also revealed that 39 per cent of dealers admit failing to give a same-day response to e-mailed customer enquiries.
He told the audience of top automotive industry delegates: “While many dealers have successfully embraced the web and enjoy more sales as a direct result there remain a large number who have failed to take up the challenge of this relatively new method of marketing.
“The danger for them now is that not only do they face new competition from web-only dealers, such as OneSwoop, Autobytel or Virgin, but they will certainly lose out to their traditional dealer counterparts who have embraced the new medium.
“There also remains a perception that it is enough simply to have a presence on the web. But generating leads and sales on the web is about making your site work like another member of the sales team.
“That means making the information the customer wants clearly and easily available, constantly up to date and backed up with proper responses to enquiries.
“Our survey revealed that 18 per cent of dealer websites are not maintained by dedicated staff but updated only when someone gets around to it. And more worrying is the revelation that only 63 per cent of customer e-mails were responded to on the same day.
“Although there is a growing recognition of the potential of web marketing the effectiveness of car dealers in realising that potential remains extremely inconsistent.”