An analysis of second quarter shopping and purchasing trends revealed that the gap between market share of branded searches and new-vehicle registrations has closed, indicating that searches precluded actual purchase.

Conducted by Experian Automotive and Experian Hitwise for the 4 weeks ending Oct. 8, 2011, the study showed that Ford was the most searched vehicle brand online, with nearly 13 percent of market share of branded automotive searches. The brand also recorded the greatest number of new-vehicle registrations during the period.

"Ford also received the greatest number of new-car registration during the same time period, indicating strong interest online along with actual purchases offline," read the study.

Online searches by make and model have increased by 37 percent compared to the same period two years ago. Experiencing the greatest movement in brand searches during the reporting period were Kia, Cadillac, BMW, Volkswagen, and Mazda, which also moved up in rank by two spots or more.

Dropping from the twelfth position last year and the eight position in the first quarter to sixth in the second quarter, Kia recorded 135,058 new-vehicle registration during the quarter, an 18 percent from the previous quarter.

Kia searches accounted for about 4 percent of the branded manufacturer searches and about 4 percent of new vehicles registered during the quarter. Also following this trend was Fiat, which experienced the largest increase in new-car registration while also realizing a 72 percent increases in branded searches vs. the same period last year.

The gap between online searches and actual purchases also closed for Mazda, BMW, Subaru and Jeep. Two brands that bucked the trend were Chevrolet and Toyota, which both recorded a higher share of new-vehicle registrations vs. their share of online searches.

"The vehicle makes that received the highest relative change in new-car registrations for the second quarter also increased their share of brand searches substantially, with the exception of a few niche brands such as Lamborghini and Mini," read the report. "Fiat experienced the largest increase in new-car registration in conjunction with a 72 percent increase in branded searches in the quarter versus the previous quarter after its launch of the Fiat 500 in the U.S. [market]."