According to Forbes.com, Hyundai was on the February leader board of car manufacturers doing well in an otherwise slow sales month. “Amid news that auto sales in the U.S. have fallen to their lowest annual rate since December 1981 and lag 39.4 per cent behind year-to-date sales at this point last year, some models are bucking the trend,” said the report. Both the Elantra and the Accent made it into the top five behind Audi’s A5/S5 Coupe and the BMW M3 convertible. But the counter-culture movement isn’t strictly south of the border. “We are certainly seeing that at the local level,” confirms Mike Holgate, sales manager at Barrie’s Baytowne Hyundai. “Our sales are up significantly over the number last year, which is in line with what Hyundai is experiencing across the province and across the country.” Among its competitive segment, Holgate credits a combination of aggressive warranty incentives, low interest rates and the high quality for car buyers “looking at us as a very good value,” he explains. “Of course, we are also the exclusive provider of WALKAWAY financing protection,” he adds. Introduced in the U.S. in January, the Hyundai Assurance Program originated in Canada in 2000 as the first-ever loss-of-income insurance on new car loans. The sales stimulus has been heavily advertised since it was introduced. “A decade ago Hyundai pioneered America’s Best Warranty to show you the faith we have in our cars,” reads promotional material. “Today, in addition to our warranty, we’re introducing Hyundai Assurance, to show you the faith we have in you. Right now, buy any new Hyundai, and if in the next year you lose your income, we’ll let you return it.” Hyundai is first ever automaker to offer job-loss insurance on new car loans.” In Canada, the WALKAWAY Protection program “lets you seek relief from your payments temporarily, or return your vehicle and walk away from the financial obligation for good. In most cases, the difference between the balance owning and the residual value of your vehicle will be fully covered.” The program is offered on a complimentary basis for one year. “In this uncertain economy, we are looking for ways to reassure shoppers that Hyundai still represents the best value in the auto industry,” announced John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America president. The overall strategy for credibility and competitiveness is proving to be sound. Not only is Baytowne Hyundai the only Hyundai dealership in the region, it has grown to become the largest Hyundai dealer facility in the province since it opened for business in 1991. Larger facilities opened at 191 Mapleview Drive West in Barrie’s south end in 2005, more than tripling the size of the dealership. In addition to a much-larger indoor showroom, the new dealership also offers a local shuttle service, customer lounge and a service drive through. After years in its original bay-side location, “we needed to update and expand our facility to accommodate growth,” according to Holgate. Now the season is here that traditionally boosts auto sales across the board, Holgate invites shoppers to check out what’s making the news. “It’s a fun and easy place to get a new car,” he promises. For more information, visit www.baytownehyundai.com.