For the last decade, Toyota Motor Corp. has been the top-selling auto manufacturer among U.S. Hispanics, and the company is hoping to claim an even bigger share of the market in the coming years, according to Bloomberg News.

“The advantage we have is we’ve been doing it for a while. We have some equity with that consumer,” said Bill Fay, the company’s group vice president for U.S. sales, who was in Los Angeles this weekend attending the annual conference of National Council of La Raza. 

It’s no small advantage. As of July 2011, there were 52 million Hispanics in the United States — or about 17 percent of the total population.

By 2050, Latinos may account for as much as one-third of the U.S. population.

“In this market, even 1 percent of auto market share is critical, and Latino buyers are an important group,” Alexander Edwards, president of Strategic Vision, a San Diego-based consumer research company, told Bloomberg.

“It’s a significant chunk of the market and it’s a chunk worth looking at for all manufacturers.”

In order to maintain its lead in the Hispanic community, Toyota plans to expand its marketing efforts and to continue community outreach.

“We’re trying to cover all our bases and reinforce the strength of the product and involvement in the different communities,” Fay said.

Toyota expects to sell or lease 2.3 million new cars and pickups this year.

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