People using their smartphones may be a common site at major auto shows next year. That’s because Cars.com has introduced a new mobile phone app designed for show goers.

The app provides coverage of new-car introductions, hot vehicles and reviews as well as event photos and videos for the major 2013 auto shows, starting next month in Detroit and including Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.

“Instead of waiting to research what they’ve seen at the show once they get home, car shoppers can read expert insights while they walk the floor, and make sure they don’t miss any must-see cars,” says Patrick Olsen, editor-in-chief of Cars.com, an automotive online marketplace.

Local dealer associations organize the auto shows in their markets. The new Cars.com app is expected to help dealers sell more cars.

“Our app more intuitively connects the show experience with the actual purchase process by integrating transition points,” says Cars.com spokeswoman Erin Mays.

“In addition to quick access to research and other resources, the ‘find-a-local-dealer’ functionality gives a consumer an easy way to connect with a dealer when they like what they see at the show. 

“This is an important feature, as 60% of new-car buyers who shop at an auto show say they decide what brand to buy upon leaving the venue,” she says.

The app also allows users to share news, photos and videos with their favorite social networks. Shopping tools include Cars.com’s finance calculator.

“The app is a great tool to help shoppers see the most important cars at an auto show while researching for their upcoming purchase,” Olsen says, adding that more car shoppers want “instant, on-the-go information.” 

That is particularly true of young people, says Arianne Walker, J.D. Power and Associates’ senior director-media marketing solutions.

“Millennials are using mobile devices, especially smartphones, at a much higher rate” to shop for cars, she says.

In general, 20% of car shoppers and researchers use smartphones, but that jumps to 43% for millennials, according to J.D. Power research.

The Cars.com app is available for iPhone and Android devices and can be downloaded in Apple’s App Store and Android’s Google Play.

sfinlay@wardsauto.com