Our own Michael Karesh will be testing out Nissan’s new Altima this week. This is the car that Nissan is hoping will take the Altima from its current second place slot in the mid-size segment and up to the top of the pile. In lieu of Michael’s take, there are a few factors that are worth looking at.
The Altima’s reign as the beta wolf among mid-size sedans was helped along by the tsunami, which saw companies like Honda and Toyota have their production schedules become severely disrupted. The Altima’s combination of strong incentives, adequate supply and a lower MSRP than non-Japanese competitors like the Hyundai Sonata (Hyundai is known to try to keep the transaction prices of their cars higher than other OEMs, while reducing incentives and dealer discounts) helped it vault ahead in the sales ranking and shed its also-ran status.
But the Altima will need to keep improving and growing sales at an inopportune time – a new Camry is on sale, and new versions of the Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion and Honda Accord just around the corner, the 2013 Altima will face an incredibly tough field. So far, the Camry is outselling the Altima in 2012 by about 30,000 units, while the Altima has a nearly 16,000 unit lead on the third place Honda Accord. In fourth place is the aging Ford Fusion.
Nissan execs are stating that “We didn’t put all of the investment into this product and put in all the features with an expectation to be No. 2,” but as we all know, putting your best foot forward in this industry is not a reliable indicator of sales success.