Photo credit: Steed Media Service

Photo credit: Steed Media Service

The automobile industry had a prosperous year in 2015. A total of 17.5 million vehicles were sold, a 5.7 percent increase over 2014. This meant automakers certainly had something to celebrate at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in downtown Detroit.

The show displayed some of the newest and flashiest cars from premiere automakers such as Toyota, Chevrolet, Buick and Nissan. While other manufacturers showcased hydrogen and electric vehicles, Toyota unveiled their cutting-edge satellite connectivity project.

Jim Colon, vice president of African American Business Strategy-Corporate Communications for Toyota Motor North America, attended the event. He told rolling out that a high point of the show from Toyota was the Diversity Volume Leadership Awards presented by NAMAD and IHS Automotive.

“It was a tremendous opportunity for recognition for Toyota and Lexus,” he said. “Twenty categories — 10 awards for us. At Toyota, we are all very proud of them for the recognition.”

As someone who deals with diversity within the auto industry, Colon explained how the current purchasing trends of the multicultural market are benefiting the industry.

“The data is telling us that the consumer base is changing. And in my opinion, this is one of the most prominent shifts in consumer demographics. You know, I’ve been in the car business for over 30 years — we’ve never seen this shift in the consumer demographics like this before,” he explained. “The Asian consumers, African American consumers, Hispanic consumers — those are the consumers that are now growing our business. And it is impactful for all of the automotive companies to recognize that these customers are coming to the market. They support our products, and we have to figure out a business strategy and ways to also support those consumers as well.”

Colon also shared some major changes that the auto industry is experiencing right now and what to expect for 2016.

“Well, I think 2016 is going to be another very, very solid year in the car business. We are moving into an election year, so we think that interest rates are going to remain low. Gas prices will continue to stabilize. So, there are a lot of elements that are going to continue to attract people to all of these great new products that are coming out and coming to the market. So, we think people are going to be interested,” he detailed. “If they are driving an older car, they are probably going to be looking for a new car, looking for some of these new features that are on the cars. And it is a fantastic time to be in the car business.”

Kacie Whaley

I'm a writer and philosopher.