Hispanic Motor Press Moves to the Forefront
That was then. This is now.
Since its inception in 2009, the Hispanic Motor Press has served as the eyes and ears of a community, providing a voice to an industry increasingly recognizing that community’s importance in the automotive market.
By Roy Nakano
Fri, Apr 2, 2021 01:20 PM PST
When I attended my first Motor Press Guild event at The Proud Bird restaurant in Los Angeles 24 years ago, Hispanic automotive journalists were few and far between—as were African American or Asian American journalists. There were a few prominent women journalists in the Guild, but it was the exception rather than the norm.
Meanwhile, out on the streets of Los Angeles not too far from The Proud Bird, there were prominent signs of automotive multiculturalism in the form of import tuners, lowriders, and custom car clubs. On the newsstands, the import tuner magazines were reaching its peak of popularity, and Lowrider magazine had been publishing for 20 years by then. It was taking the motor press a little while to catch up with the diversity overflowing in the Los Angeles car culture.
Fast-forward to today, and a few things have changed. African American automotive journalist KC Jones is on the Board of Directors for the Motor Press Guild, as is Amelia “Motorhead Mama” Dalgaard—the MPG’s immediate past president. Also on the board: The newly elected MPG Vice President, Ricardo Rodriguez-Long—the founder and President of the Hispanic Motor Press.
Rodriguez-Long has a string of firsts under his belt: Creating the first Spanish language automotive radio program in the USA; creating the first Spanish language trucking magazine in the USA; starting the first Spanish-language automotive television show in the USA (at last count, it’s broadcasted on over 30 countries through CANAL SPEED and Azteca America TV Network).
Rodriguez-Long is also the first Hispanic to receive the Golden Award for journalism by the Truck Writers of North America. As for the Hispanic Motor Press, Rodriguez-Long says it presents “the only independent Hispanic awards presented in the country for the Hispanic community to help, educate, and pre-select the best vehicle options in the market.”
A Virtual Media Day
It’s one year into the pandemic, and the Motor Press Guild and AutoMobility LA are hosting its Virtual Media Day. Anchoring the event is a presentation by the Hispanic Motor Press, and Ricardo Rodriguez-Long is kicking off the presentation. "With overall manufacturer advancements in powertrain technology, safety features, infotainment, connectivity, and cleaner mobility, it is more important than ever to guide Hispanic car buyers who represent 30 percent of the growth in new-vehicle sales," says Rodriguez-Long.
The Virtual Media Day provides an afternoon preview to the 11th Annual Hispanic Motor Press Awards, held later that evening, and hosted by Aaron M. Sanchez of ABC’s “The Morning Show”. “Through so many years of this event, the automakers have seen that the largest growing segment of the population has been the Latino-Hispanic community. As such, they have embraced the community with arms open wide,” says Sanchez in introducing the award event. And, by the way, he adds, “Throughout the world, there are close to 600 million Hispanics—10 percent of which are here in the United States.”
Manufacturers On Board
The magnitude and purchasing power of the Hispanic market has not gone unnoticed by the car companies. “When we design the cars, we are thinking about the most demanding consumers, and among those, Hispanics are the most demanding, said Hyundai North American President and CEO Jose Munoz during the award ceremony. “We know how important this market is, but especially because Hispanics are spending more on average than other consumers. As a result, their buying power surpasses the percentage of their population.”
Honda National Advertising Manager Meliza Humphrey chimed in on that point: “It’s exciting to see the coming of age of the Hispanic market and its purchasing power growing. Hondas are one of the top two brands in America in retail sales to Hispanics. And now they one out of every four Honda buyers.”
“The Hispanic market is more than half of the multicultural market in the United States,” said KIA Director of Corporate Communications James Bell. “We are huge fans of these awards. Hispanic sales are about 68 percent of the growth we’ve seen these past couple years. So we are very keen to the success of that market.”
Judgment at the Press Awards
For 11 years, the Hispanic Motor Press Awards have been a way for the organization to recognize and address the needs of the community, while underscoring the magnitude and importance of the Hispanic market to the automakers. “Many brands have understood this about the Latino market, that it has even more potential, and many others should understand this,” said La Opinion Editor-in-Chief Armano Valera at the awards event.
The organization has amassed an impressive panel of judges this year, including Alejandro Maciel, Editor-in-Chief of the Spanish Edition of the Los Angeles Times, Juan Garcia, Editor-in-Chief of Digital Trends en Espanol, and Sandra Munoz, Editor-in-Chief of Latinaology. Munoz pointed out the role that women play in the market. “As a female and Latina in our households,” said Munoz, “we have the power of the purse. We have the power of the purchase. We are the ones that okay the purchase for our families.”
Winners and finalists were celebrated during the HMPA Virtual Awards ceremony live on HMPA Facebook. The 2021 HMPA winners and finalists in the 10 categories are:
Car Model of the Year: Hyundai Elantra
Finalists: Kia K5, Honda Accord
EV Car of the Year: Ford Mach-E
Finalists: Chevrolet Bolt EV, Kia Niro EV
Hybrid Car of the Year: Honda CR-V Hybrid
Finalists: Hyundai Elantra Hybrid, Toyota RAV4 Prime
Sports Car of the Year: Dodge Challenger SRT
Finalists: Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang
Luxury Car of the Year: Genesis GV80
Finalists: Cadillac Escalade w/Super Cruise, Lincoln Aviator
Car Technology of the Year: Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell
Finalists: Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, Hyundai NEXO Fuel Cell
SUV of the Year: Chevrolet Suburban
Finalists: Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe
Pick-Up Truck of the Year: Ford F-150
Finalists: Chevrolet Silverado , Ram 1500
Adventure Car of the Year: Ram TRX
Finalists: Jeep Gladiator Mojave, Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
Family Car of the Year: Chrysler Pacifica
Finalists: Buick Envision, Toyota Sienna
"2021 HMPA selected vehicles that offer a positive overall ownership experience and are considered significant automobiles in the market, as they meet the needs and desires of Hispanic consumers," said Rodriguez-Long.
Hispanic Motor Press Today and Tomorrow
Since its inception in 2009, the Hispanic Motor Press has served as the eyes and ears of a community, providing a voice to an industry increasingly recognizing that community’s importance in the automotive market. But the HMP doesn’t stop there. It also has a forward vision for the community that is expressed in the organization’s mission statement: “The mission is to educate the Hispanic consumer into the adoption of clean and safe transportation, capable of reducing greenhouse emissions and improve our air quality reduce the cost of moving all goods around the world.”
That’s a pretty high goal, but one in which Ricardo Rodriguez-Long believes in. “With overall manufacturer advancements in technology, safety features, infotainment, and cleaner mobility, it is more important than ever to guide Hispanic car buyers who represent 25 percent of the growth in new-vehicle sales.”
For more information about the Hispanic Motor Press or to sign up to receive email updates and the latest news from the organization, go to Hispanic Motor Press.
To view the award ceremony in its entirety, click here.
About The Author
Roy Nakano gave birth to LACar in the late '90s, having previously delivered LA Audio File back in the '80s. Aside from the occasional review, Roy likes to stray off the beaten automotive path: "Six Degrees of Reparations" reflected on the regretful ethical paths taken by car companies throughout history. "Traveling Through the Past and Present of the Green Book" looked at businesses that took a stand against racism and the man that wrote the book on where to find them. "Best Cars to Drive in Rush Hour Traffic" was an LACar guide published in the pre-GPS era. "In Search of the First Datsun 510 Tuner" looked at one of the milestones in the origin of import tuners.