DETROIT -- Kelley Blue Book says more potential car buyers are kicking tires online these days at the companys popular kbb.com Web site.
The company says its daily January new-car traffic on the site is up 20 percent over December. And more people are taking a virtual look at Detroit 3 vehicles.
Based on the climb in new-car traffic and dealer leads generated on kbb.com in December and early January, we expect to see a lift in auto sales vs. the last quarter of 2008, said Jack Nerad, a market analyst for Kelley Blue Book.
Its unclear -- particularly with U.S. sales reaching the lowest rate in 26 years -- how much online traffic can predict future sales.
In November, Edmunds.com said its online purchase intent leads rose 16 percent over the previous month, but sales for the next two months continued to plummet from the same period a year ago.
Still, Kelly Blue Book says automakers and dealers can take advantage of the increased Web activity to convert leads into sales.
As consumers return to the marketplace, it becomes exceedingly important for dealers to create a positive, confident online experience, Brad Prickett, director of industry products for Kelley Blue Book, said in a statement.