Google, the giant search engine, has been compiling data on Hispanic shopping habits.
Peter Leto, Google automotive industry strategist, said Google data show Hispanics are expected to purchase 1.9 million new vehicles in the United States in the next 12 months, or 18 percent of total expected new-car sales.
Hispanics make up about the same percentage of the U.S. population, or 55 million people.
Google statistics show that the average Hispanic new-car buyer is 39 vs. 51 for the average buyer in the U.S. That means dealers can sell three more vehicles to that person over his or her lifetime compared with the 51-year-old, Leto said.
Moreover, Hispanics tend to bring their families to the dealership to make the purchase, offering the dealership an opportunity to sell additional vehicles and service to family members, Lopez said.
Mat Koenig, CEO and founding partner of a Spanish-language vehicle shopping site, BuscadorDeAuto.com, said it's crucial to reach Hispanics in the language of their choice.
Consequently, dealerships should advertise on Google, Facebook and other digital formats in English and Spanish, he said.
Lopez said just 16 percent of Hispanics in the United States speak no Spanish. Another 25 percent speak no English. The majority are bilingual.
Because as a group they like to share information with family and friends, it is important to give them a choice of language with ads and vehicle information, Lopez said.
Hispanics also tend to use their mobile devices and watch videos while shopping more often than the average population, Koenig said. That means marketing must be mobile-friendly and include a good mix of videos, he said.
Few dealerships today are advertising in Spanish, Koenig said. At a workshop here last month at the Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition, Koenig asked how many of the 200 people attending the session advertised in Spanish. Just a half-dozen people, which included many tech-savvy dealership staffers, raised their hands.
Hispanics account for about one-third of the car buyers at Kuhn Honda in Tampa.
But Internet sales director Joshua Smith believes the store should be doing better.
Sporadic efforts to reach Hispanics on Spanish-language TV and radio in Tampa have yielded few sales, he said.
So as Kuhn Honda launches a new media campaign to promote the opening of its new location -- a $16 million store near Raymond James Stadium -- Smith said the dealership is pausing its Spanish-language pitch until it can devise a targeted strategy that will be heavy on online tactics and may include other media.