July 2018 Midsize Sedan Sales: Toyota Camry Finally Slips Into the Red

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
july 2018 midsize sedan sales toyota camry finally slips into the red

Last year’s release of the radically revamped 2018 Toyota Camry lent buoyancy to a model seen as the troubled midsize sedan segment’s most resilient nameplate. It has history, name recognition, and a stigma for no-nonsense comfort and reliability. Could you ask for anything more?

And so, as other sedans, including the equally fresh Honda Accord, started falling away, the Camry retained its sales volume, finishing the first half of 2018 with a slight year-to-date increase. July brought bad news, however. While the Toyota brand performed worse than the industry average last month — sales fell 6 percent, year over year — it was passenger cars that earned the brand its volume loss.

And even the Camry’s partly to blame.

Truth be told, the Camry’s U.S. sales began slipping in March, but the sales lead built up in the preceding months allowed it to coast till summer with a positive, but diminishing, year-to-date figure. July sales figures show that lead gone, replaced by a 2.7 percent YTD loss. The Camry found 22.2 percent fewer buyers last month compared to July 2017.

It looks like the vehicle billed by Toyota as the savior of the midsize segment has joined the club. And it’s in good company.

In July 2018, Honda Accord sales fell 19.3 percent, year-over-year, with volume over the first seven months of the year down 14.5 percent. The Hyundai Sonata doesn’t fare any better — it’s down 10.3 percent for the month and 26.7 percent for the year. Meanwhile, the Ford Fusion, a sedan already slated for execution, found 22.1 percent fewer buyers in July and 19.2 fewer buyers in 2018 as a whole.

It’s a similar story with Nissan’s Altima, a vehicle that sees its own dramatic revamp this fall. Altima sales sank 28.2 percent, year over year, in July, and 17.1 percent over the first seven months of the year. What about the recently refined Mazda 6, you ask? Now boasting available turbocharged power and the mildest of facelifts, Mazda’s midsizer saw its sales drop 36.4 percent in July, pushing its YTD figure into the red (down 5.6 percent).

As General Motors chooses to hold Chevrolet Malibu figures hostage, we’ll skip over that model and focus on the only low-priced midsize to see a year-over-year increase in July: the Kia Optima, which rose 37.6 percent. Granted, Optima sales cooled off in earnest in July of 2017, so last month’s volume isn’t some sort of spike in popularity. Nor can the Optima claim a TYD increase. It’s down 14.6 percent since the New Year.

Despite gains at Volkswagen, buyers weren’t turning out in droves for the Passat. No, they walked past that model in the showroom and went straight for the Tiguan and Atlas. Passat sales fell 22.2 percent in July and 34.6 percent since the start of the year.

None of this should surprise anyone, as it’s a trend that’s continued unabated since midsize sedans hit a post-recession high water mark around 2014. Light trucks are king, rising 4.3 percent across the industry in July. It’s cars that are to blame for the industry’s 3.7 percent deflation last month (overall volume is still up 1.1 percent, year to date), as that broad segment shrunk by 18 percent.

The public’s growing thirst for trucks, crossovers, and SUVs meant passenger car market share hit a new low last month, dropping to just 31 percent of new vehicle sales.

[Image: Toyota, Honda, Kia]

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  • Raph Raph on Aug 07, 2018

    I've seen a few Model 3's going down the road. If ever there was a lifestyle statement car, aside from the Prius, the Model 3 is it. In the flesh I find nothing exciting about that car. Its as if Tesla is preparing us for our autonomous people pod future. Sigh... Tesla could really use Henrik Fisker and while the Karma was a hybrid it at least made a possible electric future exciting.

  • TACOBOUTIT TACOBOUTIT on Aug 13, 2018

    No one seems to talk about the ELEPHANT in the room. How hideous the exterior of the Accord looks. It's like 4 cars mashed into one. Front screams charger. Side screams impala and Malibu but with extra dose of ugliness. And rear says sonata. It's a pathetic design. It's asthetics are horrendous

  • Jim Bonham Full EVs are not for everyone, they cannot meet all needs. Hybrids do a much better job of providing the benefits of EVs without most of the drawbacks. I have a hybrid sedan with plenty of room, plus all the bells and whistles. It has 360 hp, AWD, does 0-60 in just over 5 sec.(the instant torque is a real benefit), and I get 29 mpg, average. NOT driven lightly. I bought it used for $25k.Sure, it's a little heavier because of the battery, motor, etc., but not nearly as much as a full EV. The battery is smaller/lighter/cheaper and both the alternator and starter motor are eliminated since the motor assumes those functions. It's cool to watch the charge guage show I'm getting energy back when coasting and/or braking. It's even cooler to drive around part of the time on battery only. It really comes in handy in traffic since the engine turns off and you don't waste fuel idling. With the adaptive cruise control you just let the car slowly inch along by itself.I only wish it were a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). Then, I'd have A LOT more EV-only range, along with even more of that instant torque. The battery would be bigger, but still a fraction of the size of a full EV. I could easily go weeks without using much, if any gas (depending upon my commute) IF I plug it in every night. But I don't have to. The gas engine will charge the battery whenever it's needed.It's just not as efficient a way to do it.Electric companies offer special rates for both EVs and PHEVs which lower your operating cost compared to gasoline. They'll even give you a rebate to offset the cost of installing a home charger. You can still get federal (up to $7,500, plus some state) tax credits for PHEVs.What's not to like? My next daily driver will be a PHEV of some kind. Probably a performance-oriented one like the new Dodge Hornet or one of the German Hybrid SUVs. All the benefits, sound, feel, etc., of a gas vehicle along with some electric assist to improve fuel economy, performance, and drivability. None of the inherent EV issues of cost, range anxiety, long charging times, poor charger availability, grid capacity issues, etc. I think most people will eventually catch on to this and go PHEV instead of going full EV. Synthetic, carbon-neutral eFuels, hydrogen engines, and other things will also prevent full EVs from being 100% of the fleet, regardless of what the politicians say. PHEVs can be as "clean" (overall) as full EVs with the right fuels. They're also cheaper, and far more practical, for most people. They can do it all, EVs can't.
  • Ron rufo there is in WaSHINGTON STATE
  • ToolGuy @Chris, your photography rocks.
  • ToolGuy No War for Oli.If you have not ever held a piece of structural honeycomb (composite sandwich) in your own hands, try it.
  • ToolGuy You make them sound like criminals.
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