Major car fleet manufacturers are failing company car drivers and missing significant sales opportunities through poorly designed websites, according to a new study.
The Manufacturer Website Evaluation, by Sewells Research & Insight, tasked 200 user-choosers with a free choice of company car to find vital information on the websites of 28 manufacturers.
Their experiences were then backed-up by an independent online mystery shop, and further assessed by an industry expert.
The exercise revealed wide divergence in the ease of use of different websites and huge variations in response times.
Peugeot, for example, typically responded to email enquiries within an hour, while other manufacturers took up to four days or even failed completely to follow up enquiries.
Overall, company car drivers rated Hyundai’s website most highly, awarding it top marks both for its ease of use and for the simplicity of booking a test drive.
BMW and Vauxhall came second and third in the rankings, both manufacturers performing strongly in key areas, such as ease of navigation and benefit in kind tax calculators.
But other major fleet players achieved no better than mid-table rankings, while some premium brands found themselves mired at the foot of the table.
Sewells assessed each manufacturer website across 10 criteria: navigation, reliability, ease of use, dealer locator, car configurator, company car tax calculator, test drive booking, speed of email response, live chat response, and how well the site functioned on a mobile device.
Skoda, Kia and Land Rover were judged to have the best car configurators; Vauxhall and Honda excelled when it came to company car tax calculators; and Peugeot, Kia, Infiniti and Nissan were the fastest to respond to mystery shop email enquiries.
Simon Staplehurst, commercial research director at Sewells Research & Insight, said: “Our research repeatedly shows that company car drivers start their search for a new car online.
“This report found that several major motor manufacturers are falling at this first hurdle, denying themselves and their dealers potential sales, and pushing interested customers into the arms of brands that have taken the time to assess and meet the demands of company car drivers.
"With fleet and business sales accounting for more than 57% of all new car sales in 2017, the ability to satisfy the web demands of company car drivers is an essential marketing tool for every manufacturer.”