Robert M. McElwaine was the president of the American International Automobile Dealers Association, of which he was a founder and its first employed executive. He helped the group grow from three employees and 600 dealers to 20 employees and 9,000 import-make franchises. He was instrumental in establishing the import auto industry, and in convincing overseas car manufacturers to reinvest profits in the United States and build domestic assembly plants. Among the companies influenced by McElwaine to build in the U.S. are Volkswagen, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota. He also encouraged Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota to open domestic captive wholesale and retail finance companies.
He appeared on the major networks’ evening news shows, as well as on Today, Good Morning America, and PBS’s MacNeil-Lehrer Report.