It Didn't Take Five Years: The Toyota RAV4 Outsold The Toyota Camry In August 2016
Will the Toyota RAV4 outsell Toyota’s long-running best-selling car, the Toyota Camry, within the next five years? Nine months ago, Toyota Motor Corp.’s U.S. boss, Bob Carter, said, “I’ll bet you lunch that will happen.”
It didn’t take five years.
To be fair, Carter wasn’t referring to a single month’s results. Indeed, through the first two-thirds of 2016, the Camry produced nearly 36,000 more U.S. sales — about one month’s worth — than the RAV4.
But in August 2016, for the first time in Toyota’s U.S. history, the Toyota RAV4 was more popular than the Toyota Camry. And the RAV4 was by no means the only vehicle to outsell the most popular car in America.
The Camry, America’s fourth-best-selling vehicle overall so far this year, ranked seventh in August, specifically. The Camry’s slide into fourth place overall in calendar year 2014 reflected the renewed strength of the pickup truck market — all three vehicles that outsold the Camry in 2014 and 2015 were pickup trucks.
Fast forward to August, and the Camry’s slide into seventh place reflects not only stable pickup truck sales but the record strength of utility vehicles. In addition to the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado, and Ram P/U, the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Nissan Rogue all outsold the Camry in August, as well. On a larger scale, August was the second consecutive month in which SUVs/crossovers outsold passenger cars in the United States.
Toyota can take solace in the relative modesty of the Camry’s decline. In a midsize segment which plunged 26 percent, year-over-year, in August 2016, Camry volume was down “just” 13 percent. Even during a month in which six vehicles outsold the Camry, the Camry was still America’s most popular car overall, albeit by a scant 57 units over the second-ranked Honda Civic.
If Toyota is seeking solace, however, the RAV4’s growth is the more likely provider of such comfort. RAV4 volume increased on a year-over-year basis in each of the last twelve months. Sales of the RAV4 in 2015 were 84 percent stronger than they were only four years prior. 2016 will be the fifth consecutive year of growth. Only two-thirds of the way into this year, 2016 is already the RAV4’s third-highest-volume annual performance to date.
Incidentally, the RAV4 is no longer America’s most popular SUV/crossover. Having led the way through the first seven months of 2016, a boom in sales of the Honda CR-V over the last two months propelled the Honda into top spot through the first two-thirds of 2016. The CR-V’s all-time monthly record in July was topped by 36,517 sales in August.
Meanwhile, Nissan reported the Rogue’s second-best-month ever, only 319 sales shy of the Rogue’s record in July, and 115 sales north of the Camry’s 32,864-unit August total.
In Toyota showrooms, the August results will not go down in history as a blip on the radar. Camry sales have declined on a year-over-year basis in each of the last seven months. After climbing to a seven-year high in calendar year 2015, the Toyota Camry is on track for 2016 to become its first sub-400,000-unit U.S. sales year since 2011.
While Camry volume slides down a slippery slope, the expansion of RAV4 production in southern Ontario means Toyota will soon be able to build more than 400,000 RAV4s per year in North America.
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