Needless to say, a lot has changed over the past few years with Hyundai and in particular itslatest Sonata sedan, not only challenging, but this past May even surpassing the Camry in U.S. sales for the first time in history.
Of course, the fact that Toyota’s production capabilities were seriously affected by the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, played a significant role in Hyundai’s accomplishment.
Nevertheless, U.S. sales of the Camry from 2007 to 2010 dropped around 31 percent to 327,804 units, while the new Sonata, which was launched in January of 2010, saw its sales soar 35 percent to 196,623. In the first half of 2011, U.S. sales of the Sonata are up 29 percent to 115,014 units, while the Camry fell 4.4 percent to 147,469 cars.
And of course, Toyota is taking notice.
“Sonata became a very honorable contender in the market,” Yoshimi Inaba, Toyota’s North American chairman, told Bloomberg news on a July 12 interview. “We do have good respect for the model, and the sales figures show it’s increasing quite a bit.”
Toyota is planning to launch a new generation of the Camry later this year. According to the Japanese company, its bread-and-butter mid-size sedan will sport a more modern design as well as improved driving dynamics.
But Toyota isn’t the only Japanese automaker worried about the success of the Sonata; so is Honda which saw U.S. sales of its Accord drop 28 percent to 282,530 in the period from 2007 to 2010.
“We recognize that the Korean models are very competitive because of their good quality and affordable price,” said Keitaro Yamamoto, a Honda spokesperson in Tokyo. “Before, it was Accord versus Camry, but it’s definitely becoming Accord versus Camry versus Sonata.”
Honda is also said to be working on a redesign for its Accord sedan, which should arrive in North American showrooms sometime next year.
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