By on January 30, 2014


Though Nissan remains Japan’s second-biggest automaker with a wide gap ahead of Honda, the latter continues to outsell the former in the United States and at home, much to Nissan’s dismay

According Automotive News, Nissan’s global sales for 2013 increased 3 percent to 5.1 million units, while Honda’s rapid 12 percent growth in sales only managed 4.3 million units in the same period. Further, Nissan sold 86 percent of its 5.1 million vehicles — 4.4 million, to be exact — outside Japan, Honda doing as well by selling 3.5 million of its 4.3 million overseas. Overall, Nissan beat Honda in Europe, Mexico, China and most of Asia, yet lost to Honda in Japan and the U.S.

At home, the reason is due to Honda’s popular line of kei cars (all made in house), and all having undergone a total revamping as of late. Meanwhile, Nissan has partnered with Mitsubishi to make kei cars after years of farming out the practice to the former’s rivals. Though things appear to be looking up for Nissan, they will be looking up at Honda for a good while: Honda sold just over 400,000 kei cars in 2013 to Nissan’s 186,000, while also growing 27 percent in kei car sales against the latter’s 21 percent.

Across the Pacific, Nissan is gaining on Honda’s other home turf, selling 1.2 million units for a 9 percent increase in sales against their rival’s 7 percent increase and 1.5 million units in 2013. Market share in the U.S. held at 9.8 percent for Honda while Nissan took a tenth of a percentage for an even 8 percent in the same period.

Though Honda has done well for itself since becoming the first Japanese auto manufacturer to build a factory in the United States back in 1982 for the Honda Accord — such as exporting more cars around the world from the U.S. than from Japan in 2013 for the first time ever — Nissan aims to turn up the heat through the tandem of new production coming from Mexico, and aggressive tactics devised by Nissan North America’s new chairman Jose Munoz, who is under standing orders to boost his employer’s share of the U.S. market to 10 percent.

Either way, both Honda and Nissan still have a ways to go to take on Toyota; the No. 1 Japanese and global automaker moved 9.98 million units worldwide in 2013.

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31 Comments on “Nissan Outsold By Honda In Home, U.S. Markets...”

  • avatar

    Nissan has done very well for itself since it almost went bankrupt and was saved by the Renault alliance.

    W/o Renault, Nissan would probably be just a memory. And yet Renault is considered kinda junk class these days.

  • avatar

    Concept or not, that is a nice looking car. I haven’t been able to say that about Nissan in a long time. I have no opinion one way or the other about who makes the better cars. The caveat being that I’ve owned two Hondas, but no Nissans.

  • avatar

    The U.S. result is quite odd, considering that Infinity is better than Acura and that Nissan has trucks while Honda has… Ridgeline.

    • 0 avatar

      Honda is a very focused company. It’s not a big company as compared to GM or Toyota, but it’s a leader (top 3) in whatever segments it competes in, such as Civic for compact, Accord for midsize, CRV for small SUV. You get the idea. As for the Ridgeline, give them some time. Honda will either drop it or make it truly competitive.

      • 0 avatar

        New Ridgeline in 2016 (as 2017 model?) already confirmed by Honda

        …Looking forward to it considering the current gen is one of the more underrated vehicles on the road (although sales were up 29% 2013 vs 2012 for the Ridgeline, so there is SOME love)…

      • 0 avatar

        agree, Honda is very focused and what they do they do well, however in the last few years they have made a lot of mistakes like the CRZ and Insight. Also I’m not too sure about Acura’s future, they need to come out with more desirable cars, even Infiniti has long left them in the dust.

      • 0 avatar

        Ahh the Ridgeline has an interesting origin – Accord chassis was modified to make the Odyssey which was modified to make the Pilot which was modified to make the Ridgeline.

        Ridelines are well known for car like handling with some utility and a cool locking trunk in the bed (the normal pickup tailgate but can also swing out which was also another neat feature).

        But the big drawback is the gas mileage. Ridgelines get terrible mileage – expect at best 18 mpg – 20 mpg highway and if you ever try to use it as a pickup truck it gets much worse from there when you try to haul or tow. The engine is poorly suited for a pickup as it has to rev to the stratosphere to make any power. We joke the power of a v6 and the fuel mileage of a v10.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t want to start a sidebar but yes, Infiniti is better than Acura (I owned a 2008 G35xS which was a far more refined car than my previous TL Type-S and 2004 TSX). However, I drive a Ridgeline daily – even rented a Frontier and drove it 700 miles to confirm how much better the Ridgeline was…

      One thing that Honda has is an almost cult following where as it is tough to feel as much ‘love’ for your Nissan/Infiniti. Honda engineering is second to none, even when they are conservative and lag behind. Late to CVTs and DI engines but now they are the best at both.

      Easy to work on, generally bullet proof, etc. I understand why Honda is still so popular…Cars like the new Accord Sport are simply an outrageous value vs an Altima or a soul-sucking Camry. Like a lot of VWs, Honda’s seem a ‘class above’ their competition when you look at materials and fit n finish.

      • 0 avatar

        Ridgeline fills a niche for people who want the utility of a truck for Home Depot runs, but the handling of a car. They’re not cross shopping the Frontier.

        The off-roader types go straight to the Tacoma. This is where the Frontier gets killed.

        • 0 avatar

          I’d agree on the Taco for off road. They are crazy capable. The real world towing capabilities are close between these 3 midsizers. The Ridgeline is more the “Swiss Army knife” of vehicles. My amazement with the Ridgeline is you have the ride and handling of a large sedan with a lot of true truck abilities. A true half-ton (I’ve personally loaded that much), plus towing a 5,000 lb boat and trailer getting 15 mpg and some off roading with the Ridgeline that showed I have questionable ‘judgement’…People that aren’t dialed in are still mesmerized by the Ridgelines overall usefulness. Honda had the right idea of doing a unibody with the welded in cross members. Best of both worlds for ride and utility.

        • 0 avatar

          The Frontier seems so incredibly dated that I can’t believe people still buy them.

      • 0 avatar

        Perhaps I hung out with NISMO types too much, but I didn’t see much difference in the cultism levels.

    • 0 avatar

      but number-wise Infiniti/Acura don’t have many to begin with, so the much bigger success of Honda vs. Nissan brand cars weighs more.

      Assuming Infinit is better, it is becasue Honda basically sells the european regular Honda as Acura. It is just gravy for them to get some more premium sales. Even if they don’t get as many, they already spent the money developing them as European Honda.

      As of why more people buy Honda, most people want a practical and economical car. Compare the cargo capability and versatility of a Fit/CRV to a Versa/murano and you see what I mean. For long time happiness the conservative time-less design wins over the funky Nissan design. Look at depreciation for Hondas (or lack thereof). And when was the last time you heard of a major technical problem for Honda? Yes some tranny issues in early 2000’s with 6-cylinder vehicles, which all probably were paid for by Honda. My neighbor’s Acura had a 120,000 mile tranny issue which was fully paid for by Acura. They are late with DI and CVT, but they also never are mentioned when Nissan has to scrap and reprogram and replace their CVTs etc. Not sure if they fixed the rubber-band feeling at all. People outside TTAC don’t even know the difference, they know the right pedal accelerates, the left one decelerates the car ( and judging by the Toyota UI story, they even get that part mixed up)

      • 0 avatar

        HerrKaLeun: “Compare the cargo capability and versatility of a Fit/CRV to a Versa/murano and you see what I mean.”

        I guess I don’t “see what you mean” – see dimension comparisons below:

        2013 Fit
        90.8 cu ft total passenger volume
        20.6 cu ft trunk
        57.3 cu ft w/ rear seat folded
        41.3/34.5 f/r legroom

        2007 Versa HB
        94.7 cu ft total passenger volume
        17.8 cu ft trunk
        50.4 cu ft w/ rear seat folded
        41.4/38.0 f/r legroom

        2014 Versa Note HB
        94.1 cu ft total passenger volume
        18.8 cu ft trunk
        38.3 cu ft w/ rear seat folded
        41.3/38.3 f/r legroom

        2014 CRV
        103.1″ wheelbase
        104.1 cu ft total passenger volume
        37.2 cu ft trunk
        70.9 cu ft w/ rear seat folded
        41.3/38.3 f/r legroom

        2014 Rogue
        106.5″ wheelbase
        105.8 cu ft total passenger volume
        39.3 cu ft trunk
        70.0 cu ft w/ rear seat folded
        43.0/37.9 f/r legroom

        2014 Murano
        111.2″ wheelbase
        108.6 cu ft total passenger volume
        31.6 cu ft trunk
        64.0 cu ft w/ rear seat folded
        43./3.3 f/r legroom

        …So the 1st-gen Versa had 2.8 cu ft less trunk volume and 7 cu ft less total cargo volume, while offering 3.5″ more rear seat legroom than the current Fit. I’ve been in the rear seat of both cars – I can attest to the legroom discrepancy making the Fit feel far more tight inside. Granted, the new Versa hatchback has far less total cargo volume, but made a 1 cu ft gain in the trunk while slightly increasing rear legroom. In this class, I’d wager those last two dimensions are most important to the majority of consumers.

        As for comparing the CR-V to the Murano, I think most would agree that those two are in different classes altogether. A more appropriate comparison is the CR-V to the Rogue. There we can see that the two are nearly identical in space at every measurement, with the Rogue getting a slight edge in trunk capacity and the CR-V has a 0.4” surplus in rear legroom. Otherwise, the two are quite similar; the CR-V offers 15 more HP, but has a lower overall EPA MPG rating than the new Rogue.

        I agree that the Murano is the odd man out, but it has always been a curious proposition with a starting price near $30k – it’s essentially a less luxurious, but slightly more practical Infiniti FX, but doesn’t compare well in outright capacity stats versus the Rogue or Pathfinder. Its primary selling point appears to be the V6 under the hood versus the 4 cylinder in the larger-interior Rogue.

        As for Honda reliability issues, you can’t really pass off the transmission failures as this minor issue – it was widespread and affected the bread-and-butter models – but thankfully they got it straightened out. Another widespread Honda issue that I know of off-hand was the 2nd-gen Odyssey CV-joint failures. Honda did eventually cover these repairs out of warranty, which was good, but the examples I know of took some wrangling. Nissan has also been proactive to extend powertrain warranties when CVT issues cropped up.

      • 0 avatar

        ” Yes some tranny issues in early 2000′s with 6-cylinder vehicles, which all probably were paid for by Honda.” Not so fast on the minimizing. Interesting trying to minimize anything that does not fit a certain belief, in this case Honda whatever. Had less repair and repair expense with Nissan, Ford, Toyota, Chrysler.
        Did much more than severe service schedule maintenance at much shorter than recommended intervals on my Honda.
        Still had the big Transmission I$$ue.
        No. Honda did not pay.

  • avatar

    Nissan is the only JDM that dares to let the California design studio design something for the American market.
    other companies take a concept that looks great and dull it down. (damn you subaru and your wrx concept!!)

    Murano, Juke, FX, Maxima, Quest, GTR,Z etc. at least they try to do something different to the eye, love it or hate it.
    Now, if they can just make the Maxima smaller, more nimble….

    • 0 avatar

      But some peer review and 2nd opinion may help actually selling more cars outside the Techno and funk crowd?

      They may look good to some people now, but apparently not to many. And will they still look good to many people in 5 years when you sell your car? Maybe this is part of Nissan’s depreciation right there. Especially when function has to follow form and you have a mini-trunk. The person buying the car from you later on doesn’t care abbout looks (that’s why he buys used), but practicality. Polarizing looks more likley are a deal breaker for ued cars as the fad will be over. The Honda still will look as conservative/boring as it looks now, but the Nissan will just look silly in 5 years.

  • avatar

    Damn it Avis, you need to buy more Altimas and Versas. MORE! MORE!!!

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    Manual transmission option > CVT mandatory. Simple as that Nissan! :)

    • 0 avatar

      True, at least Honda has some enthusiast credibility, while Nissan (aside from the 370Z, which I never see, and the GT-R, which is obviously such a low volume seller that it doesn’t matter). I know I have a better opinion of Honda, even though I’ve never owned either- right now, it’s probably because the Accord and Fit are the best in their respective segments.

  • avatar

    Altimas are pretty thick on the road here in Kentucky. Glad Nissan is doing well. I wish the Toyota/Subaru coupe was made by Nissan, like a 270Z or something. I don’t guess there’s as much money to be made there though.

  • avatar

    If we took out all the utility vehicles, how does the Hondas total sales look in comparison to the other ‘big ones’? I’ve never seen a Honda van or truck (I’m not counting the Ridgeline as a truck at all) As far as I can remember right now, Honda and BMW are the only large manufacurers to only build passenger cars ?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Well, at least Nissan has the world’s best-selling electric car, but that’s little comfort.

  • avatar

    Few years ago they were about the same size, even Honda was Japan´s No.2.

    The difference between them i would say globally is that Nissan was sooner in CHina + is bigger there and Nissan has trucks-pickups or commercial vans – actually that´s why i believe is Nissan more popular in poorer less developed countires in Africa or Asia- because on those roads you need SUV´s pickups – that´s where Nissan is stronger, but with those markets growing and Hona expertise in small cars – with good fuel consumption Honda will be catching up fast, like ASEAN – where Honda is now really growing fast.

    About US and Japan and Honda being bigger – well in US Honda was always bigger, their were sooner there, Honda is very popular, if Toyota wouldn´t be global No.1 and have such big line-up of vehicles in all categories i would say Honda would be No.1 Asian brand in US

    About Japan- well one year is Honda bigger, next year Nissan – it is ot such important, currently kei cars are at their peak – about 40% of Japan´s market and Honda last year started with new minicars like Honda N-box and so on so they get the momentum, in regular cars Nissan is bigger

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