Automotive Blog

Hispanic population in the U.S. surges – what about in the new vehicle market?

New 2010 Census Bureau data released March 24 includes the fact that there are now 50 million Hispanics living in the U.S., a record-setting level and one-sixth of the total U.S. population. Also, Hispanics accounted for more than half of the U.S. population growth during the past decade.

These data beg the question of whether there has been similar growth in Hispanic new vehicle purchases in this country. The answer is, "No." The percentage of new vehicle buyers in the U.S. who are Hispanic has actually declined 1.5 percentage points from 2006 to 7.1% in 2010. And, only two makes, Ferrari and Buick, enjoyed a growth of one percentage point or more in Hispanic buyer mix. Aside from those two makes and three others that exhibited even smaller increases, every other make in the industry suffered a decline in percentage of Hispanics from 2006 to 2010.

A look at a list of the 10 makes with the highest volume of Hispanic buyers suggests at first glance that these makes are similar to those with the greatest number of new vehicle buyers, regardless of ethnicity. But a closer look shows that the domestics lag behind their Asian rivals in appealing to Hispanics. Chevrolet and Ford each have less than half the number of Hispanic buyers when compared to Toyota, a far lower ratio than their industry-wide positions. And Honda and Nissan both have more Hispanic buyers than either Chevrolet or Ford, while industry-wide the opposite is the case.

Top Ten Makes for 2010 Calendar Year

Lastly, the 10 makes with the highest percentage of Hispanic buyers are all Asian or European.

These new vehicle data suggest there is a large opportunity for all makes – particularly the domestics – to capture additional new vehicle business if they can effectively appeal to the surging Hispanic population.

Posted by Tom Libby, PolkInsight Advisor, Polk (03.29.2011)

About The Author

Manager, Loyalty Solutions and Industry Analysis

Tom currently uses his passion for the auto industry to serve as a Solutions Consultant for IHS Automotive's Loyalty Practice. His past roles here include Sr. Forecasting Analyst and PolkInsight Advisor (he worked for two years in Polk’s Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey office). Tom's other interests include reading, gardening, sailing and running. Aside from Detroit and New York, Tom has also lived in Los Angeles, Denver, and Boston, where he drove a taxi for two years. Tom has also traveled extensively in the United States and overseas, including an overland trip across Asia after graduating from college. Tom is inspired by people who practice what they preach and enjoys socializing with friends that he's met throughout his career and from school.

Tom is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Automotive Analysts (SAA). During the 2009 calendar year, Tom was President of that organization. He is an active member of the Automotive Press Association, and in the past has written a blog for the online version of the Detroit Free Press. Tom has a bachelor's degree in history from Amherst College, an MBA with a marketing concentration from Columbia University and once served as an Adjunct Professor of Market Research at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.