Hispanic auto dealers formed a national Hispanic automobile dealers association to deal with pressing issues affecting them.

Some of the nation's leading Hispanic organizations gathered for the first time at the NADA 2002 convention to demonstrate their support for Hispanic auto dealers who are concerned about inequalities, lack of capital, entry and growth in the auto industry.

At a private meeting, Hispanic dealers discussed common concerns related to their businesses growth in the auto industry. They said a key issue is lack of capital — one of the biggest obstacles for Hispanic auto dealers — and strategies for addressing those issues.

The Hispanic auto dealers were joined at the meeting by George Herrera, who's president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Congressman Silvestre Reyes, who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus; Congressman Joe Baca; Raul Yzaguirre, president of the National Council of La Raza; and State Representative John Martinez, president of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators.

The new association, as yet unnamed, says that of the 26,000 dealerships in the U.S., there are only 381 (1.5%) Hispanic-owned dealerships nationwide.

General Motors leads the way among domestic automakers, with more than 120 Hispanic-owned dealerships. That's 1.6% of all GM dealers. Ford has 82 Hispanic dealers. That's also 1.6% of the Ford dealership body.

Currently, there are 35 million Hispanics (12.5% of the population) in the U.S. The new dealer group says Hispanics, who currently have a purchasing power of approximately $500 billion in the U.S., have developed a consistent track record of brand loyalty and purchasing habits in the automobile industry — both foreign and domestic.