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Toyota Camry is top-selling passenger car but faces competition

December 14, 2012|By Jerry Hirsch
  • The 2012 Toyota Camry is expected to dominate its segment again in 2013, despite pressure from Honda.
The 2012 Toyota Camry is expected to dominate its segment again in 2013,… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Toyota’s flagship Camry sedan, which was redesigned last year, is making an impressive sales run this year.

Through the first 11 months of the year, the Camry leads the Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck and looks to finish as the No. 2-selling vehicle of any type in America. For years, the Camry has been the best selling passenger car, but has had trouble gaining on the perennial vehicle sales leaders, Ford’s F-series truck and the Silverado.

The Ford truck is sure to finish first again. It already has sales of 576,529 vehicles through the end of November, according to Autodata Corp. Camry is second at 373,479 and Silverado is third at 367,613.

And Toyota has no time to relax.

Honda’s Civic was the bestselling passenger car in November with sales of 30,075 cars. Toyota sold 28,765 Camrys last month. The Honda Accord was not far behind with sales of 26,248.

The 2013 Accord is a brand new vehicle that is just hitting the market and gathering steam. It also is a favorite to win the North American Car of the Year award at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

Honda is selling tons of Civics because it is offering big discounts and attractive leases to clear out inventories of the 2012 model. But the 2013 version is just arriving at dealerships, having undergone multiple design changes. Honda rushed the refreshed Civic to the market after the 2012 model was panned by the automotive press. The car was knocked for being noisy and having a cheap interior, among other criticisms.

Toppling the Camry from its position as the bestselling passenger car in America would be an accomplishment, said Alec Gutierrez, an analyst at auto information company Kelley Blue Book.

Civic's topping the Camry last month was a surprise to most of the industry. The Accord has outsold the Camry only in nine months out of the previous 71. 

“While I believe it is certainly possible for the Accord to beat the Camry in any given sales month, it seems that the Camry will likely continue to dominate the segment in 2013,” Gutierrez said.

This seems to be the industry consensus.

“The new Accord will clearly bring a boost to sales for the model next year and the sales gap will narrow somewhat. However, I don't anticipate this will be enough to challenge Camry's lead as the top-selling car,” said Jesse Toprak, an analyst with auto price information company

“Regardless of the sales ranking implications,” Toprak said, “the competition will heat up in small and mid-size car segment with consumers benefiting at the end of the day in the shape of great products as well as attractive finance and lease deals.”


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