You Meet the Nicest People in a Hyundai -- by J. R. Andres 
Wednesday, June 17, 2009, 12:04 AM
Posted by Administrator
This song line (with a few changes) from the mid 1960ís motorcycle commercial was a portent of things to come when Honda and several other Japanese manufacturers began to promote their two-wheeled products in the U.S. The English were already here at that time with Norton, BSA and Triumph and of course, there was Harley Davidson, a time honored American company that eventually saw their once secure market share slip away with each passing year. It took a while but the populace in North America became accustomed to names like Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha, and that was just the beginning.

Over in the four-wheeled world, VW, Simca and Renault led a similar invasion but their numbers were small and the radar screens of the Big Three hardly even noticed the blips. There was a lot of denial then about the long term impact these brands would eventually have upon the automotive industry in this country and most of the car buying public continued to remain true blue to the Dodges, Fords and Chevys that were made in the good old USA in spite of it all. No harm/no foul or so they thought.

In light of the subsequent inundation of off shore products, it wasnít surprising that in 2006 Toyota became involved in NASCAR, a racing fraternity of cars and individuals who cut their teeth on name brands manufactured domestically. After all, Toyotas are made here now so why shouldnít they be allowed to race alongside Impalas, Chargers and Fusions? Donít you know that theyíre built by Americans and they pay taxes and they help the economy?

There are a couple of ways to look at this issue since Toyota is already a part of the scene and the hue and cry against their inclusion in NASCAR has already waned but a larger issue remains that no one seems to notice on their radar screens. Once again, it appears that another door has been opened by NASCAR to the likes of VW, Mercedes, Honda, BMW and Hyundai. Will Daewoo be next? What about Opel and Fiat and Lexus?

Sure, GM and Chrysler need to cut back their sponsorships because itís hard to justify that kind of expenditure when youíre laying off people and dealerships are rapidly closing, but are the powers that be in NASCAR so misguided that they are willing to (once again) dilute a staple of the American landscape even further with brands so far removed from what this sport is all about? If you do, you might as well align yourself with Formula One, a series without a people and a country to call its own.

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