By on July 14, 2011

A year ago I put together a chart comparing the first-half performance of America’s “big six” most popular midsized sedans. Then, the graph seemed to show promising growth and a tightening segment. Now we seem to be looking at an up-and-down but ultimately more stagnant market… and a segment that is still battling it out in some of the closest competition in recent memory. But this chart alone doesn’t tell the whole story… hit the jump for the same chart, only with sales plotted cumulatively by month.

Plotted in terms of cumulative YTD sales, the Camry is a clear winner… and this less than a year away from its relaunch. Toyota’s demise has clearly been overreported in some circles, but this all-important midsized segment is still tighter than a laser weld tolerance. Even the slightest slip-up could cause fortunes to vary dramatically, and with only 30k units separating King Camry from the upstart Sonata, these six sedans could take this competition right down too the wire…

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39 Comments on “Chart Of The Day: The “Big Six” Midsized Sedans In 2011...”


  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    Are these numbers including fleet sales? The Chevy Rentibu, Fusion and maybe even the Sonata or the Altima would probably drop a few notches there.

    • 0 avatar

      No, these are overall volume numbers, unadjusted for fleet or incentives/transaction price. I wish we could weight these numbers to show how each model is really doing with consumers, but full fleet breakout data is out of the reach of the likes of us.

    • 0 avatar
      NN

      Honda Accord would likely be at the top if we removed fleet sales. There are tons of Camry’s in rental fleets, also.

      • 0 avatar
        tekdemon

        Maybe right now, but my guess is that in the later part of the year when Toyota will be both doing clearance sales on the 2011′s and pushing the new 2012′s that it’ll have the strongest retail share by far since it’ll basically be selling two Camrys at the same time. Unless they seriously botch the launch they’ll likely get to keep the #1 crown even at retail.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Altima has high rental fleet sales also, well over 20% (in the 20′s), the Camry is at 18%; Hertz’s entire rental fleet as one example is over 20% Toyota now. I haven’t seen Sonata fleet sales number in a while, but the last one I saw had it in the low teens. If you chaffed out fleet sales I’m willing to bet the Accord, at about 4% fleet, would be the clear winner.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        If I recall correctly, the Camry has enough of a lead over everything else in the segment that it retains its number-one ranking even when fleet sales are eliminated.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        the Camry is at 18%

        I’d like to see a source for that. Fleet Central reports that it ran at 13% for MY 2009 and 12% for MY 2008. I doubt that the figure is any higher now.

        http://www.automotive-fleet.com/Statistics/StatsViewer.aspx?file=http%3a%2f%2fwww.automotive-fleet.com%2ffc_resources%2fstats%2fAFFB10-20-car-reg-1.pdf&channel=

        Honda typically runs very low fleet numbers. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Accord led the class in retail sales. At the very least, it would place a very close second.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Toyota Camry fleet sales were 17.3% in 2010 according to Ed here at TTAC.

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/the-truth-about-the-ten-best-selling-sedans-of-2010/

        Last data point I saw was April 2011 had fleet at 18% and change, I can’t find it; hopefully you’re really not going to split hairs on .7% from the most recent TTAC number as this was right at my fingertips. So yes, the number is higher now.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Last data point I saw was April 2011 had fleet at 18% and change

        The only place that I’ve seen that 18% figure is in the comment sections of blogs, with no authentication. And since then, there has been this little tsunami/ nuclear meltdown/ earthquake problem, which has of course wreaked havoc on parts production. So I have my doubts that YTD fleet is running at 18%.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        And since then, there has been this little tsunami/ nuclear meltdown/ earthquake problem, which has of course wreaked havoc on parts production.

        I’m sorry, you must be confusing inventory level with fleet sales; or are the two exclusive to each other only in Toyota’s case?

        As prior orders are fulfilled and inventory declines, wouldn’t it have the opposite effect of artificially increasing the to fleet percentage? Production is reduced, but agreed to fleet purchases are still being fulfilled (maybe I’m wrong but I doubt Avis calls up Toyota and says hi, we’d like 7,000 Camrys, 4,500 Corollas, 6,000 Matrix, 4,000 Yarii, 2,500 Prii, oh and do you think you can spare 8,000 RAV-4s, we need them tomorrow)

        If B2B delivery and commitment contracts have a force majeure clause in them, Toyota has some very impressive lawyers; and the rental agencies have some really dumb ones.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I’m sorry, you must be confusing inventory level with fleet sales; or are the two exclusive to each other only in Toyota’s case?

        No, Holden, I am not. I’m noting that as inventories fall, one would expect the company to divert its remaining inventory to retail, since fleet sales produce less (or no) margin. So I would expect post-tsunami fleet sales to decline, both in absolute and percentage terms.

        This is not the situation with the Cruze. As I noted to you previously, Cruze sales were 27% fleet in April, and GM fleet sales are not generally falling, so based upon what numbers that we do have, I would expect June Cruze fleet numbers to be pretty similar to April’s.

  • avatar
    Prado

    A few random thoughts.
    - What would Sonata sales be if Hyundai had more capacity.
    - What would Fusion sales be without 3k++ incentives (4th of July) and fleet sales.
    - Would the Kia Optima be up here too with more capacity?
    - Wow…these 6 cars are over 10% of the entire market.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      What would the Camry sales be with out all the incentives they’ve been piling on them and their ~18% fleet? Pretty much all of this year, at least in my market area, they have had 0% for 60 mos and currently they are throwing $1000 on the hood too. Haven’t seen much in the way of incentives for the Fusion in my area, yes there have been a couple of deals but not continuously for a year or so.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Toyota is definitely doing everything it can to goose Camry and Corolla sales. They are doing 0% for 60 months plus $500 on the hood of Camry’s here. Or you have the option for a give away lease rate of $179 a month.

        In this region the Malibu has slightly less incentives on it. 0% for 60 months, no cash back option, or give away lease of $179 a month matching Toyota’s terms.

        Ford is pushing harder on the Fusion. 0% for 60 months plus $1000 on the hood, or $3,000 cash back. No special lease deals.

        Nissan is doing 0% for 60 months, 1.9% for 72 months, or $1,250 cash back on the Altima (sans coupe/hybrid). Lease rates are no where near as aggressive, with $189 – but only for 24 months and with a larger down payment than Toyota or Chevrolet.

        Honda is super aggresive on Accord leasing. Zero down lease, no security deposit, no first payment, $240 a month for 35 months. They are far less aggresive with financing, offering 1.9% for 60 months.

        Chrysler is also doing 0% for 60 months or $2,000 cash back. They are running a lease deal of $199 a month, but with the largest requried downpayment in the segment.

        Never thought I would see the day where Toyota would be running aggressive incentives on the Camry, especially under reduced inventory levels. The only car maker with deeper incentives is Ford; even the Chrysler 200 has smaller incentives.

        All information current as of the time posted, pulled directly from Toyota.Com, Ford.Com, NissanUSA.Com, Chrysler.Com, Chevrolet.Com and Honda.Com

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        All information current as of the time posted, pulled directly from Toyota.Com, Ford.Com, NissanUSA.Com, Chrysler.Com, Chevrolet.Com and Honda.Com

        Automaker websites are not the best way to get information about incentives. Try Automotive News, or Edmunds.

        For example, you’ll find that the Malibu does have a $1,000 factory-to-customer incentive

        The only car maker with deeper incentives is Ford; even the Chrysler 200 has smaller incentives.

        According to Edmunds, the 200 has $750 in factory-to-customer incentives, plus $500 in factory-to-dealer incentives. (Naturally, the Chrysler consumer website won’t advertise the latter, which is one reason that should not rely on the consumer website for your incentives information.) From that, it would appear that the 200 is leading this group in cash-back incentives.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        The 2012 Fusion is also already on the lots, I’m not sure about when the changeover happens for the other models, but I know the 2012 Camry isn’t out yet.

        The bigger Fusion incentives are only on the 2011s to clear them out.

      • 0 avatar
        tekdemon

        Of course, it’s in it’s last and final model year now so the incentives are higher than usual. But that’s the standard MO.

  • avatar

    I can’t wait to see what the upcoming Camry has in store. I get a feeling it might fall short of the Sonata overall, that is if the latest Corolla is an indication of anything. I also can’t wait to see what GM has up its sleeves with the new Malibu.

    Interesting segment, to say the least. Things are about to get real hot.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      see the Buick Regal (not a bad car – except it’s about 500 pounds too heavy) for a preview of the upcoming Malibu.

    • 0 avatar
      James2

      Despite what Akio wants, the Boring Car Company can not/will not change its stripes in a single product cycle. Also, ToMoCo knows not to mess around too much with the Camry formula.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        Based on the Corolla, the leaked photos and even Honda’s new Civic, I think the new Camry will sorely disappoint anyone expecting a major revolution.

        But a major revolution would be insane on Toyota’s part. Auto journalists and anonymous commenters on the internet really don’t have a clue about what buyers actually want. The current Camry is a perfect fit for a lot of people and the new one will most likely continue that trend. Save for mostly nominal differences in styling and driving dynamics that most buyers could care less about, there’s no real reason to choose one of the competitors over this or the Accord. The Camry has historically high resale and reliability, its hard for any practical buyer to ignore that.

    • 0 avatar
      HalfMast

      While there might be some cues for the Camry refresh from the Corolla, I wouldn’t rely too heavily on it. Toyota knows that Corolla is a low margin, entry level car that sells based on Toyota name and reliability record (and price). I would expect them to put a lot more effort into the Camry refresh, including taking feedback from Corolla results.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      Considering that the 2011 Camry is still quite a competitive car I doubt that the 2012 can really fall short. It might not compete as much on price as the Sonata can but to be honest a lot of stuff is already nicer in the current Camry. A lot of the cost cutting and design drawbacks in the Sonata are felt in the rear seating so if you only sit up front while testing out the car you might not realize it. The lack of air vents on the GLS, how you have to duck your head to get into the car, the lack of headroom, the low seats, they make for a pretty lousy rear seating experience.

  • avatar

    Malibu did well in June. I wonder if people are coming in to look at the Cruze and leaving with a Malibu. Probably not much of a price spread between the two when nicely equipped. I was most impressed with the Cruze when I drove it at a recent GM event.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      It’s probably a mix of upselling potential Cruze customers, fleets, rebates, Japanese shortages and people finally realizing the Impala is as old as dirt. The Malibu is aging fast and there’s no tangible reason to choose it over its competitors. Same goes for Altima, which also came in first a few months back.

      • 0 avatar
        vbofw

        Agreed that the recent momentum for the Malibu is what’s most surprising from the chart. None of these cars are inspiring (and that’s not their aim, to be fair), but the Malibu seems to be the least impressive of the bunch. Hopefully the next one, along with the Fusion, is a solid step up.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Carguy662 is probably on to something regarding the cross-shopping of the Cruze and Malibu. Right now, there are pretty decent incentives on the Malibu, but not much on the Cruze.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Malibu is rocking! Ford Fuzion and pacific rim suckage, tsunami or not.

  • avatar
    TheHammer

    There is no guarantee the Camry re-design will improve sales. Just look at the ever bloating accord and it’s plummeting sales figures.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    I think sales figures are moot until Honda and Toyota get their production levels back to normal. The rumors of their demise are being greatly exaggerated.

    However, the Accord has slipped in recent years, it’s not the perennial first place contender it used to be. But the rest are just jockeying for position. It’ll be interesting to see if the hype wears off on the Sonata, as it too really is just another Camry clone, albeit a better one than Detroit has ever mustered, and a smartly marketed one, at that.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I agree that a full assessment cannot be made until production is fully back, but January to March was unaffected by the earthquake and the competition was much closer than in 2010, 2009 and many other years.

      A new Camry is due in a year but so is a new Malibu and in 18 months a new Fusion. So half of the 6 listed have all new models coming out. Maybe even Nissan – that is who surprises me since I never see that many Nissan adverts or hear much about the Altima.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Everybody’s looking for the missing variable that will catapult their favourite to the top.

    My only question is why we dwell on monthly sales charts when year-over-year tells a much more balanced picture. Monthly sales can be skewed by local incentives, the alignment of Jupiter’s moons, or just about any other random variable.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’m grateful to see how Ford and Chevy are right up there with the imports. Now, I’m waiting to see the reliability data of these six vehicles in a few years. For now, though, congrats to Ford and Chevy for finally offering a mid-size car that’s competitive. Of all these, what would I buy? Malibu is first, followed by Fusion, of course. Altima? I drove one. Unimpressed. Sonata? Ditto. Camry? Nope, on general principles, same for Accord. Nothing against any of them, but as long as Chevy (primarily) or Ford makes what I like, that’s what I’ll buy. When and if that doesn’t any longer make sense, next! Chrysler? Still watching and hoping.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I still see a lot of incentives in my market (SWMI) for the Camry, Malibu and Altima. For all of the hype concerning lost sales and shortages due to the tsunami, they’re still putting money on the hoods of these cars.

    If I had to replace the wife’s car today, I’d probably look at an Cruze Eco, mostly because I kind of like the idea of 4 cylinder turbo/6 speed manny tranny in a reasonably sized package. A Cruze Eco hatch would really make me consider trading in the Pontiac.

    For obvious reasons, the Malibu doesn’t offer that kind of drivetrain. But, I am interested in seeing the 2013 Malibu and the e-Assist package on that.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      Those three models are all older models at this point, that’s why there’s incentive money even with relatively constrained supplies. But the incentive spending isn’t really over the top or anything.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I don’t have June numbers, but Malibu sales in April were 45% fleet, on total sales of about 25,000 units. I doubt that June’s approximately 24,000 units sold looks much different.

    http://blogs.motortrend.com/gm-leads-strong-sales-month-chevy-cruze-beats-toyota-corolla-15021.html


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