It was a good year for the top 20 U.S. Hispanic-owned auto dealerships on the 2013 HispanicBusiness Automotive Report. Overall sales increased 21.1 percent from 2011-2012, going from $3.32 billion to $4.02 billion. Fourteen of the dealers showed positive growth, led by No. 13 Bravo Southwest in El Paso, with a revenue increase of 122.9 percent, and No. 5 Elder Automotive Group, based in Troy, Mich., showing sales up an impressive 55.2 percent.
The growth wasnt specific to any particular region. While typically hot Florida, Texas and California were well-represented on the list, a total of 10 different states showed up, including Alabama, New Jersey and Georgia.
Dealers gave multiple reasons for the growth. The economy is starting to grow, said M. Allan Vigil, CEO of No. 8 Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Inc. There is pent-up demand from the past four years, and lenders have relaxed their requirements for making automobile loans.
The growth continues into 2013 for many dealers as well. The automobile industry is shifting into high gear with new car buyers. In fact, this is the second-highest level of growth in history, said Mario Murgado, CEO of No. 7 Miami Automotive Retail.
All told, buyers purchased 1.5 million vehicles in September, up 17 percent from a year ago, with nearly all major automakers reporting double-digit sales gains, he continued. The demand has customers scrambling for certain models, colors and hard-to-find vehicles.
He said he would see this as a fertile and growing market. Ours is still a mature market and one that we have been maximizing and growing over the past five years, all through the recession itself.
Hispanic Consumers Large Part of Growth
According to automotive data compiler Polk, sales volume on new cars was up 9 percent through June 2012 compared to the same time period in 2011. Hispanic consumer purchases were up even more, with Polk showing 16 percent growth in this segment for the same time period.
Hispanic customers are a big part of our business, said Ivette Dominguez, CEO of No. 19 Alpine Buick GMC. The Hispanic community trusts our dealership, and word has spread over the years. From 2012 to 2013, our Hispanic growth has been even more substantial than the Polk numbers. Our Spanish-speaking team increased their total sales by nearly 50 percent in the past year.
Victor Benitez, general manager for No. 10 Gus Machado Enterprises, said Hispanics make up a large majority of his customers. Our market is about 80 percent Hispanic, and is more up to making the decision of buying a new vehicle this year versus last year due to need and the ability to secure financing versus last year, he said.
So what vehicles do Hispanic consumers purchase? Toyota tops the market, according to Polk, accounting for 17.46 percent of Hispanic purchases so far in 2013. Honda is next at 12.44 percent, followed closely by Nissan at 11.67 percent. Ford, however, has had the biggest growth in the Hispanic market, up 0.46 percent from its market share last year.
In terms of specific models, the Toyota Corolla held off the Honda Civic for the most popular model for Hispanic consumers, with 4.22 percent of the market share compared to 4.09 percent. Toyota, Honda and Nissan models account for eight of the top 10 among Hispanic consumers, according to Polk.
Future Looks Bright Green
The 2013-2014 sales period should be even better, according to some of the dealers we spoke with. Ramon Alvarez, CEO of No. 20 Alvarez Lincoln Jaguar, said, We think 2014 will be better than 2013 because of the continued recovery of the economy and also because of the new products that Lincoln and Jaguar are introducing to the marketplace. Were looking at a 15 percent to 20 percent increase in sales.
Those increases arent the only new thing in the works for Alvarez. He has launched his own electric car company, EcoCentre Electric Vehicles. EcoCentre is the nations first automobile dealership network dedicated to economical, environmentally friendly fleet and consumer vehicles, according to the company website. The company offers a fleet of electric, hybrid and other other-low emission vehicles and plans to have a dealership in the top 75 U.S. markets by 2015.
Others predict good things as well. In 2014 we will have several new product lines available to our customers, and anticipate they will be well received, Ms. Dominguez said. As a result, we are planning for 10 to 15 percent increase in sales for the year.
Mr. Benitez agreed. The industry in 2013 is shaping up to be between 15.6 to 16 million units, he said. 2014 is forecasting to be about 16.3 million.
He predicted that business will be even better in South Florida, the economy seems to be recovering much better this year than in past years, construction is picking up, real estate sales are up from previous years and the fact that the average age of vehicles in South Florida is 12 years shows that new vehicles sales will be the best in 2014 since 2007.
The continuous growth of the U.S. automotive market, a vital Hispanic consumer segment and an economic rebound combine to make things look very promising for the top 20 Hispanic-owned auto dealers.