Detroit’s traditional Big Three automakers reportedly are targeting minority consumers more aggressively to boost sales and tap into the growing purchasing power of blacks, Hispanics and Asian-Americans.

According to Reuters, the US Census Bureau says minorities are expected to constitute 46% of the total US population by 2045,  while the Department of Commerce says, in that same year, their purchasing power is seen reaching an annual $4.3 trillion.

“The census is probably an awakening for everyone and we certainly took the numbers to heart,” Chris Robinson, director of diversity marketing and sales at General Motors, told the news agency.

To attract more black customers, the world’s largest automaker recently launched a print advertising campaign dubbed “One Reason” featuring its top black executives. Appearing in magazines read mainly by black consumers, the campaign stresses GM’s commitment to diversity as one reason to buy its vehicles, Reuters said.

Another campaign called “Súbete” – or “Get In” – for GM’s Chevrolet brand reportedly is also under way to woo Spanish-speaking car buyers.

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“Everybody is looking or scrambling for whatever market share they can get,” Art Spinella, president of CNW Marketing Research, said to Reuters of redoubled efforts to lure minority buyers.

The share of minority-specific advertising in the marketing budgets of automakers overall has increased to 25% so far this year from 18% last year, Spinella reportedly said.

DaimlerChrysler’s Chrysler division has raised its budget on minority-focused marketing by 60% this year, its chief executive, Dieter Zetsche, told Reuters in a recent interview.

Ford, which rolled out a big multicultural advertising campaign for the redesigned F-150 pickup truck in 2003, is focusing on the internet this year to sell more vehicles to minorities, the report noted.

Reuters said Ford recently introduced a web site that has vehicle brochures and other information in Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese to persuade Asian-Americans to buy its vehicles and also has a Spanish language web site for Hispanic consumers.

There is a definite link between the Hispanic community, the internet and automotive sales, Ford president Nick Scheele told Reuters of the web site.

The report said that, according to CNW Marketing Research, GM holds an industry-leading 28% market share among minority car buyers, followed by Ford with 23% and Chrysler with 16%,  while Toyota ranks fourth with an 11% share.

Bob Carter, vice president of sales at Toyota’s US division, told Reuters the Japanese automaker is stepping up its multicultural marketing, especially for new or redesigned vehicles like the 2005 Tacoma pickup truck.

Rising Toyota sales to Hispanics and blacks reportedly are causing some resentment among Detroit’s automakers, who say they have a better record of encouraging diversity among their suppliers, dealerships and workers.

“I would see it as natural that African-Americans, and to some extent Hispanics as well, would rather have some sympathy for products of the Big Three, which is obviously not the case at this point in time,” Zetsche told the news agency.

Chrysler, Ford and GM all do multibillion-dollars’ worth of business a year with minority-owned suppliers while, att Chrysler alone, Zetsche reportedly said the minority supplier business was three or four times more than what Toyota does.

“(That) kind of shows the difference in commitment,” he told Reuters.

Company spokesman Xavier Dominicis told the news agency Toyota has a strong commitment to diversity and is in the middle of a 10-year plan to increase the representation of minorities among its suppliers, employees and dealers.

“Our diversity effort speaks for itself,” he reportedly added.