Auto Makers: Why not focus on the Mobile Market?

When I’m not checking out the current or tech news, and I have some free time, I like to check out auto (car) web sites. Most often, when I’m taking advantage of my free time, I’m on my iPad. Using my iPad in a new car search was more difficult than on my laptop.

But why don’t all of the car makers in the auto industry create web sites that are mobile friendly? It would make sense to build mobile-friendly auto web sites since I’m thinking they may target similar demographics as mobile telecommunication and tablet manufacturers.

Additionally, if I was able to use a fully functional auto web site on my mobile device, I could build a car or two (for comparative purposes), save it on my iPad, walk into the car dealerships that I’ve narrowed in on with my car choices including specifications and options, and proceed with purchasing my chosen vehicle. Why not, right?

So, I went to a number of car web sites in the last 24 hours and this is what I found:

Ford.com: The main page looks good and the menu is functional which is also good. However, once I click on “Cars” and choose a model to “Build and Price” I’m stuck because the site goes to flash. Not good for anyone using iOS.

GM.com: Clicking on”Vehicles & Innovations” and “Vehicles Home” I get the choice of “Get Flash Now” or “Non-Flash Version” where I choose the latter. The difference between the two site versions is huge.  I can look at a bunch of little thumbnails of cars that’s sorted by class, but the site could be much better. They could have made it so there’s a nice image at the top of the page (for visual appeal) and then when you click an image, the top image is replaced with the model chosen before clicking through for the details of the auto; it would just work better visually. I felt cheated after seeing the Flash version on my laptop. Having said that, after I clicked into the details of a vehicle, it got better visually.

Chrysler.com: The best mobile auto site. Good functionality and look on the home page, can build own vehicle, and view the complete specs of the built car. The only thing I would have appreciated was the ability to save the car with specs as a pdf. Visually appealing site with fully functional menu and interactive. The Chrysler.com site offered the best iPad browsing experience. Well done.

Toyota.com: On the home page, the mobile button on upper right is cut off on the ipad. There’s no functionality to build a vehicle or really get any of specs. All I can view are some very brief and general descriptions of the model, but I’ve not yet found any details on models or options. I also downloaded the iPad app and it was even more limited. I can view photos and demos, but nothing that would be useful in my car buying and decision-making process. Their non-mobile web site has plenty of details, features and specs. The Toyota.com web site seemed better suited for an iPod or iPhone; the look and feel of the interior pages was better than the home page.

Honda.com: I can build a vehicle, but when I was actually building a car, I couldn’t see all of the accessories that were listed and available. However, when I went to the site on my laptop, I could see that there was a scroll bar in a frame that was not usable on the iPad. If not for the poor functionality because of the frame issues, this was a good site. Lot’s of information and details that would be useful toward making a purchase. The Honda.com web site was really good visually.

Mazdausa.com: The main page has “Wireless Home” in the title, and a ton of white space on the page to the right of the menu which made this the worst main page display. I clicked in to interior web site pages, and no change.  All of the text and images only used about a third of the display. Text was tiny and images were tiny thumbnails. I could see specs, but again, every page occupied a third of the available space.  Even the gallery had images too small that didn’t take advantage of the screen. This was a huge disappointment considering two car purchases I’ve made have been Mazdas. Not a good iOS experience at all.

HyundaiUSA.com: I can build my own car which was great, but I was only given a very small popup window with general information—no details or specifications on the car I had just built. I could have taken advantage of the “save” option but I would have had to give my email and personal info. Thanks, but no thanks. I would have liked a printable/pdf page with a summary of all specs and options. The look and feel of the HyundaiUSA.com site was good.

Kia.com: This mobile site seemed like it would be fine for an iPhone, but not so much for the iPad. There wasn’t any build a vehicle feature, so no real help in building the car I might want to buy. Having said that, the Kia.com site did give more details, specifications and features and options than competitor sites, although without visual impact. Also, while the options, features and specifications were available, the list was long and very basic in it’s web presentation.

Well, there you have it.  I hope this has been helpful. At the very least, it’s been helpful for my own car-buying process.

1 reply
  1. Jim says:

    I like how you have given us a clear understanding of what people can expect when browsing an auto website and attempting to create a car ourselves. I can see the value in being able to fully utilize the mobile device we have to improve our ability to make choices and create different options. If auto dealers improved the websites to allow for an improved experience for mobile device browsing it would be a trendous benefit to both parties.

    You are right on in saying that if they, the auto makers, help us, mobile device uses, to more positively and creatively interact with their site, and in turn their products, then this will lead to greater number of sales and more satisfied customers.

    It’s all about the experience: how we feel when visiting their site translates to how we feel about their products.

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