Sophus3 reveals the facts behind 1.27 billion automotive car buyers’ online investigations in 2018

Sophus3 presents 2019’s online car-buyer behaviour study at its annual digital automotive summit in London on Tuesday 26th February


Traffic to car brand websites in the ‘Big 5’ EU markets held steady at 1.27 billion visits in 2018, but 50% of visitors now quit after looking at just one page


55% of all traffic to digital showrooms now comes outside of working hours: more visits take place at 10pm than 10am


SUVs and EVs are the only segments to see growth in online interest, both registering significantly higher percentages than their retail market share


Car brand YouTube channel visits exceed visits to their websites for the first time with 1.34 billion views, up 40% on 2017


London, 26th February 2019: Sophus3’s 17th annual digital automotive summit in London on Tuesday 26th February will present the conclusions from its 2018 ‘Digital Car Buyer in Numbers’ analysis across virtually all car brands’ websites in the ‘big 5’ EU car markets.


The detail behind the headlines will be presented at a sold-out conference to up to 200 participants including 25 automotive brands’ marketeers and senior managers. Scott Gairns, Sophus3’s Managing Director, will also present highlights at a media briefing on the morning of Thursday 28th February at the company’s London offices. This presentation will also feature highlights of a more detailed analysis into trends across electric vehicle (EV) online site visits and the conclusions of an expert EV panel discussion taking place at the Sophus3 summit.


A link to last year’s report for reference can be found here: The Digital Car Buyer in Numbers 2018


Highlights of Sophus3’s 2019 Digital Car Buyer in Numbers report:


    • Traffic to car brand websites held steady in 2018 with 1.27 billion visits, equalling 2017’s record high. 1.27 billion is over double the number of visits seen in 2008, which stood at 534 million, highlighting the trend towards online research over physical dealer visits and brochure requests


    • Half of all people visiting a car website now quit after looking at just one page, visit duration is down (average 2’37”) and the number of pages (average 3.5) viewed on each visit fell further, suggesting impatience from the online visitor and more tempting and engaging online experiences elsewhere


    • The ratio of visitors to a site on a mobile device (telephone or tablet) compared to a PC has stabilised at 60:40, with access via mobile down 3% and access via tablets up 3%. Sophus3 suggests this is potentially due to a reaction to the aesthetic shortcomings of small screens and the growing influence of voice-controlled devices


    • The majority of visits to car brands’ websites (in effect their digital showrooms) were ‘out of hours’, which poses a major operational challenge to car brands seeking to emulate the ‘always on’ responsiveness of the major e-commerce and social network platforms


    • Online visits show that people like SUVs and EVs more than ever. The visitor numbers to these segments suggest they are the most likely candidates to achieve increased sales in 2019. 43% of all car-buyer online visits were on SUV pages, up from 34% in 2017, a strong result compared to SUV’s 37% market share for sales in 2018


  • YouTube and Facebook car brand sites showed significant traffic and growth in 2018. YouTube car channels saw a 40% traffic increase to over 1.34 billion views (against 1.27 billion visits to car brands’ own websites) whilst interactions on car brands’ Facebook sites increased by 25% to 56 million


Scott Gairns, Sophus3 Managing Director, said: “Despite a disappointing car market for sales in 2018, we continue to see strong levels of online interaction and clear patterns of behaviour that car brands should be reacting and adapting to. Yes, they will continue to be challenged by Brexit, weak markets or increased legislation against diesel, but there are clear opportunities to engage car buyers better and turn interest into leads and sales, whether that is in exploiting the clear interest in SUVs and EVs or improving their digital experience in line with that which YouTube, Facebook or Amazon offers. Car buyers are still hugely interested in new cars, but if they find it difficult, confusing or frustrating to find what they want online they will go elsewhere.”


Sophus3, the London-based automotive analysis specialists, present an almost complete picture of online car-buyer and car-researcher behaviour through their eDataXchange (eDX) network of car brands and automotive publishers. Uniquely amongst online analysis specialists, Sophus3’s eDX collates information from all participating brands’ online platforms in a shared environment that shows not just how consumers are behaving on individual sites but between sites and therefore across the industry as a whole: vital information about car-buyer online journeys during challenging market environments where every lead is, or should be, held precious.


If you would like to attend the Sophus3 media briefing at 09:30 GMT on Thursday 28th February, please e-mail


About Sophus3

Sophus3 is a London-based multi-national team analysing all volume and premium car brands’ web traffic in Europe, providing insight, analysis, advice, tactics and tools that enable car brands to better facilitate online consumer journeys.


The company was founded in 2002 with the ambition to build a collaborative online analysis platform for car brands in order to help brands understand consumer demand and market better to consumers increasingly researching cars online.


As Europe’s only automotive technology company analysing online activity on behalf of all European-based global car brands’ websites, Sophus3 provides quarterly (AMI) market reports providing a comprehensive picture of consumer online behaviour on and between car brand digital platforms, whitepapers such as the recent – “The end of the ICE age? – Digital insights into the electric vehicle buyer” – and an annual automotive insights forum and report – “The digital car buyer in numbers”.

Press Contact: Mark Harrison
07584564253 |