Brett David is seeing a new type of customer at his Prestige Imports luxury dealership in North Miami Beach: the wealthy South American who is buying a second home in the Miami area and is prepared to spend big on luxury cars such as the Audis, Lamborghinis, Lotuses and Paganis he offers.
"The South American buyer is coming here because their home market doesn't allow them to have these creature comforts," said David, whose dealership is one of the largest Audi and Lamborghini stores in the U.S. "They're people who left unstable economies: Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, most of South America. They're coming from South America for a lifestyle that's safer for them."
David and other organizers of the Miami International Auto Show, held every November, hope to capitalize on the arrival of these well-heeled Latino buyers and several other favorable trends to make the Miami show a major event on the annual industry calendar. As the U.S. moved to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba last week, Miami was looming even larger as a potential hotbed of the car business.
Show organizers want to transform what was once a regional American auto show into the auto show for Latin America, attracting South American consumers and dealers to Miami. And Miami wants to ride its Latin American identity to join the top ranks of North American shows along with Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and New York.
"We want to be one of the top five -- that's our immediate goal," said Richard Baker, show manager. "It's going to take some time, but we're going to head in that direction. We can be the gateway to the Americas."
Alvaro Cabal, multicultural communications manager for Ford Motor Co., said: "Miami is the so-called capital of South America. Whatever happens in Miami impacts the Hispanic U.S. market."