How Many Camrys Can Toyota Sell?

Supposedly the vehicle market has been fragmenting, with more models for sale each year. Sedan sales have been steadily declining as people switch to an increasingly broad variety other, more multi-functional vehicle types. And there are more brands to choose from than in decades past. Put it all together, and the days when anyone could sell more than a half-million of a single car model in the U.S. would seem over. Even a quarter-million, roughly the output of a single assembly plant, has been hard to achieve.

So I was shocked to learn that Toyota sold over 50,000 Camrys in May. Sure, some of these were the Solara coupe, but not many. I was aware that Toyota was selling over 400,000 Camrys a year. But maintain the May pace and we’re talking 600,000 cars per year, nearly all of them sedans. Even assuming that May was unusually strong, it seems likely that Camry sales will clear the half-million mark this year. This just isn’t supposed to be possible.

To put the 50,000 per month figure in perspective, Hyundai sold a total of 43,885 vehicles in May, and automotive press darling Mazda sold just 26,788. Toyota sold nearly twice as many Camrys as Mazda sold vehicles in aggregate. Mazda’s competing Mazda6, available as a hatch and wagon as well as a sedan, didn’t even do one-tenth as well as the Camry. Nor did Saturn’s much-hyped Aura. Nissan’s Altima had a strong month, but still did only half as well as the Camry. The Accord, once the best-seller, struggled to clear 30,000 for the month. Chevrolet has been doing surprisingly well with the Impala, selling over 35,000 (about half of which go to fleets). While any number over 30,000 is very strong, both the Honda and the Chevrolet remain far from 50,000.

Not so long ago GM’s chief of design suggested that the three-box sedan might be on the way out. The future seemed to lie in entirely new types of vehicles like the then-new Chevrolet Avalanche and Pontiac Aztek. It seems he spoke too soon.

Michael Karesh is the editor and owner of available at . TrueDelta is an automotive research company.


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