New Nissan Altima 2013 Could Outsell Camry

Wall Street Journal - April 6, 2013

By the end of each year the bat­tle typ­i­cal­ly comes down to the Cam­ry and Accord. But the new Nis­san Alti­ma 2013 is mak­ing a respectable run for the top.

Is the lat­est ‘horse race’ between Alti­ma and Cam­ry this year?

Indus­try watch­ers know the real action is in the mid­size-sedan seg­ment, where mod­els like the Toy­ota Cam­ry, Hon­da Accord, Ford Fusion and Chevy Mal­ibu fight for mar­ket share and the title of best-sell­ing car.

This year there are signs the Nis­san Alti­ma could shake up the segment’s usu­al fin­ish­ing order. That could give the tra­di­tion­al­ly bor­ing car cat­e­go­ry a rare shot of excite­ment. Stiffer com­pe­ti­tion could also lead to bet­ter deals for prospec­tive buy­ers.

By the end of each year the bat­tle typ­i­cal­ly comes down to the Cam­ry and Accord. The Alti­ma made a respectable run at Toy­ota last year but nev­er real­ly threat­ened the com­pa­ny whose Cam­ry has been the most pop­u­lar basic fam­i­ly sedan for most of the last decade and a half.

So far this year looks like it has the mak­ings of a horse race. Cam­ry is ahead as usu­al with 100,830 cars sold through the end of March. Accord trails with 88,427 and Nis­san has 86,952. But Nis­san won the bat­tle last month, sell­ing 37,763 Alti­mas com­pared with 37,663 Cam­rys and 36,504 Accords. Ford Motor Co.’s redesigned Fusion is with­in strik­ing dis­tance with 30,284 sales in March and 80,558 for the first three months of 2013.

Nis­san and Hon­da have the poten­tial advan­tage of more recent­ly redesigned mod­els that many agree are more styl­ish and fun to look at than the Cam­ry, which was redone for 2012 but still looks dowdy. Ford is also bet­ting on the attrac­tive design of its Fusion to pull cus­tomers away from rival brands.

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