First of all I’d like to congratulate the Japanese woman’s football team for their World Cup win.  Good win and good news for an earthquake disaster weary nation, but the U.S. woman’s team did hand it to them on a silver platter on those missed penalty kicks.

Anyways, to apparently reprise Honda’s comments nearly two years ago that “Hyundai is awesome,” Toyota’s North American chief, Yoshimi Inaba, declared that “Sonata became a very honorable contender in the market.”

Japanese automakers have been sucking wind since the Fukushima earthquake disrupted manufacturing for both component suppliers and OEMs.  Who’s been around to pick up the slack?  American and Korean auto manufacturers.  They have clearly been picking up market share as the Japanese automakers have been partially paralyzed due to component supply issues.

Korean automakers have particularly benefited from this Japanese pause in manufacturing.  They are gobbling up market share from all the major Japanese players.  In response, Toyota will soon be launching the 2012 Camry.  Cool, as I have fond memories of my parent’s extremely reliable Camrys.  Before my parents owned Camrys they bought a brand spanking new Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.  Unfortunately, just after 33k miles, my dad had to hold that thing together with duct tape and chewing gum and I had to waste spend my weekends helping him.  However, for the Camry’s sake, I hope it doesn’t look like this spy shot.  I don’t know.  It just looks a little sedate to me.  I would think Toyota would have to do something a bit more drastic on the styling front.

Another interesting side note.  In the not too distant past, Korean automakers were heavily dependent on Japanese component suppliers to make their cars.  Toyota basically gave their suppliers an ultimatum to stop selling to Hyundai and many did stop.  Hyundai found Korean suppliers to replace the Japanese suppliers that had to quit due to Toyota arm twisting.  The irony is that Hyundai, partially due to this reason, had enough non-Japanese suppliers that the Fukushima earthquake did not meaningfully affect their production.