By Dennis Seid | Daily Journal
TUPELO – For the second time in four years, South Korean automaker Hyundai has won the coveted North American Car of the Year award at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
And for Barnes Crossing Hyundai owner Joe Marshall, it’s no big surprise.
“For the majority of the (past) year, we couldn’t get enough of them,” Marshall said. “We were selling them about as fast as we got them.”
The dealership on North Gloster Street sold an average of about 20 of the compact cars a month and could have sold more he said.
“The Elantra has unique styling, it gets 40 miles per gallon and it’s got a great warranty,” said Marshall, who bought the dealership from longtime owner Frankie Blackmon in 2010.
The Elantra beat the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Passat for the award, chosen by a panel of 50 automotive journalists from the U.S. and Canada.
The Hyundai Genesis won the honor in 2009. The Sonata was one of three finalists last year.
“The Hyundai Elantra is sporty, yet sensible. Luxurious, yet affordable. Spunky, but safe. The Elantra is a series of paradoxes, and every one is another argument for the latest, impressive entry in the Hyundai lineup,” wrote Jayne O’Donnell, a member of the jury from USA Today.
Marshall said there were times when he could have sold 30 to 35 of them during the peak buying months.
And, he added, “we were selling to other dealers at MSRP. It’s been a huge hit. I haven’t seen anything like it in quite some time.”
The Elantra’s popularity helped Hyundai’s U.S. sales jump 41 percent last year, helping it grab market share from Toyota and Honda.
The Japanese automakers saw production disrupted by the devastating March earthquake and tsunami, as well as flooding in Thailand late in the year.
The truck of the year award was given to the Range Rover Evoque, which bested the BMW X3 and the Honda CR-V.