Australia, one of the most competitive car markets in the world. Also one of the highest levels of car ownership as our public transport if highly average. So how do you disrupt and differentiate in a crowded market place? The tried and true ‘race on Sunday, sell on Monday’ method. V8 Supercars with its Car Of The Future program has already attracted Nissan, Volvo and AMG Mercedes (oh we’re not meant to mention the Mercedes bit. Success has many fathers, failure’s always a bastard). But who’s next to chomp at the bit of Aussie motorsport?
My money is on Hyundai to enter V8 Supercars. This is based on nothing but speculation but here’s why:
- The Genesis platform has a V8 in the US. So they’re eligible.
- Hyundai have been on the periphery of motorsport for a while. Mostly in rally based events. Now would be a good time to step up to something more mainstream.
- It’s highly likely that a V8 Genesis and possibly the 2 door sports coupe are on Hyundai’s product road map. Especially if Ford are bringing out the Mustang imminently.
- The brand is about 30 years old in Australia but is neither premium or bargain basement anymore. Now that the Chinese are moving into the bottom end of the market, it’s time to show Aussie Hyundai fans some love. Otherwise you’re just another manufacturer.
- Racing shows that you’re committed to forging a reputation in a market and an emotional connection to a brand.
- It would forge Hyundai’s reputation as a reliable manufacturer (or possibly break it, but let’s stay positive!). Handy when you’re competing against the Japanese
- There’s no competition from Lexus. They’ve decided to stick to GT3 style sports car racing in Australia instead.
- Toyota aren’t there yet. For years Toyota’s greatest rival is not Hyundai itself but Korea. This would really ‘stick it up’ the Toyoda family and show the Japanese Korea can and will lead the future. Call it a corporate bitch slap, but in Asia especially blood is thicker than water.
Who else is likely to be in V8 Supercars?
Jaguar – hell yes
Remember those stonking great Jag XJS coupes tearing down Bathurst in the early 80s? I most certainly do. They have a V8, they have a saloon. They even have the snarling, bonkers F Type that screams like a banshee from its dual exhausts. Moreover Jag is trying to get one up on its German contemporaries and be a bit edgier. I’d argue V8 Supercars is a strong fit for the Jag man.
Toyota – call me maybe
The vanguard of Hybrid is no stranger to V8s, even V12s (Google Toyota Century and be amazed). Nor are they a stranger to Formula 1 (oh that’s right they left unceremoniously), Indy or Nascar. They’re quite conflicted though as they are loved by accountants and greenies for their hybrid eco friendliness. These are not the kind of people that like wasting precious dinosaur juice going around in circles. But they are bringing out a Supra and will no longer manufacture in Australia. That means they will have to do something win the hearts and minds of otherwise jaded Aussie fans. To my mind, Toyota’s entry will be more of a question of when. If they have the right platform to promote and it works (Supra, Aurion, Crown, Camry even??)
Honda – gomenasai
Never say never. They do make a V8 truck in the US. But it’s just too much of a long shot for my liking. They don’t have anything saloony or sporty going at the moment.
Audi – auf reiter sein
As Audi is wanker flavor du jour, it’s highly unlikely. They are perceived like bright, shiny iPhones at the moment. So why mess with a perfect formula and ruin that upmarket appeal?
BMW – nein
Yes they have a proud history in Motorsport and the M division. They have glorious V8s and passionate brand following. Yes cashed up bogans Australia wide have been driving FPVs and HSVs for years and are now starting to upgrade to shiny German steel. But my view is they’ve seen the dramas Erebus/AMG have had over 3 odd seasons and will steer clear of it. At least until rules change in their favor.