Three of four polled drivers say they would buy a vehicle completely online if technology allowed it.

That’s according to a study by consulting firm Accenture. “We thought it was a pretty startling number, but then again it seems logical considering how many people use the Internet to vehicle shop,” Accenture spokesman Val Brown tells WardsAuto.  

The A-to-Z digital purchase as cited in the consumer survey would include financing, price negotiating, completing paperwork and arranging delivery.

Today’s technology allows for a full Internet car purchase, or something close to it. But it requires a relatively simple transaction, free of snags and imponderables.

Dealership chain AutoNation a few years ago backed off a complete online purchase project, citing lack of consumer interest.     

Accenture’s global survey of 10,000 consumers in eight major countries indicates 80% of drivers seeking to purchase a new vehicle use some form of digital technology.

Sixty-two percent initiate the buying process online, including consulting social media channels, before entering a dealership, Accenture says.

Fifty-three percent say they would use an in-store interactive touch display that provides information on available models. About half say they would like to take a virtual test drive at the dealership if such technology were offered.

“The impact of the digital customer is becoming pervasive, disrupting the traditional car-buying experience and the competitive landscape,” says Christina Raab, Accenture Automotive’s global managing director-digital consumer services. “This is clearly supported by the fact that many would consider conducting the entire car-buying process online.”

The company says its finding show a need for automakers and dealers to increase online customer engagement. More than half of those surveyed say they want improved online channels to make their research and shopping easier.

“Whether in China, Germany or the U.S., using online processes to a greater extent for car-buying is becoming the norm, not the exception,” Raab says, adding that Americans show a greater interest in websites allowing comparison shopping.

sfinlay@wardsauto.com