Japan Sales Report: August Winners and Losers

By Matthew Askari | September 05, 2012
We're at the tail end of summer and Japan's heavy hitters are feeling warmth. Toyota and Nissan continue excellent years, with the Toyota Camry outselling all midsize sedans in the most important, competitive segment. Nissan has given its most important model—the Altima—a makeover. The new model gets an estimated 38 mpg on the highway, which is no small feat of engineering. Even Honda has emerged from the shadows to a rosier future. With post-tsunami production and capacity back on track, the automaker is seeing a surge in sales of its two chief offerings—the Honda Accord and the Honda Civic. Luxury players are also feeling the love, with Lexus, Acura, and Infiniti all with newfound momentum. Mazda continues to transition to its new Skyactiv strategy, which is paying early dividends on the Mazda3 and especially on the all-new Mazda CX-5. Read on for the full rundown. Toyota's Winners:
  • Camry: The Camry outsold all midsized sedans in August, Toyota's flagship shines brightly.
  • Prius: The American hybrid appetite appears insatiable.
  • GS: Lexus updated the 2012 GS, and it's paying dividends.
  • Rav4: Even in a tough compact crossover segment, the new Rav4 is gaining ground.
  • Tacoma/Tundra: With all the Camry and Prius hoopla, it's easy to forget Toyota makes trucks. Truck buyers however, are clearly aware.
Toyota's Losers:
  • Avalon: The fancy Camry has ever-more competition, and it shows.
  • LS: We've driven the new LS, and it's very good. Unfortunately for Lexus, dealer lots are still shooing out the current LS. Expect to see the Lexus LS in the Winners category soon.
Honda's Winners:
  • Mother Nature/Production: After a year of dismal sales figures, post-tsunami production and deliveries are up, product is less bland. Honda, is back.
  • Accord/Civic: After a lull, Honda went back to the drawing board to revive its iconic nameplates. And now with production capacity back, momentum is with the storied ones.
  • Acura RDX: Crossovers are all the rage, and priced in the mid-30s, Acura's RDX is sporty and luxurious.
Honda's Losers:
  • CR-Z: Two seats, 20 grand, hybrid badges that return the fuel economy of similarly sized gasoline-only powered cars. Something's got to give.
  • Insight: Honda's Prius knock-off looks like the Prius, and gets good fuel economy, but shoppers prefer the original.
Nissan's Winners:
  • Altima: A midsize that can get 38 mpg on the highway using a 2.5-liter engine? Impressive.
  • Frontier: Strong 4.0-liter V-6 doing the trick.
  • Rogue: Not the nemesis its name might imply, the Rogue is an attractive and affordable crossover.
  • Quest: Minivans are considered a top value segment for consumers. The Quest is no exception.
  • Infiniti G Sedan: Topping all Infiniti models in sales, which is good as it's the automaker's most important vehicle.
Nissan's Losers:
  • Cube: Curves are sexy. The cube has none.
  • Leaf: In need of a spark. Or a better, more thorough easy-charging network.
Subaru's Winners:
  • Impreza: Good fuel economy and all-wheel-drive are doing the trick.
  • Outback: Newly refreshed, this wagon boasts a lot of room, a good go-anywhere attitude and decent fuel economy.
Subaru's Losers:
  • Impreza WRX: Despite all-wheel-drive, can't find any traction.
Mazda's Winners:
  • CX-5: The CX-5 jumped in the mini-pitbull crossover category and showed that its got teeth, too. With agile handling, excellent fuel economy, and solid styling, the CX-5 is a needed homerun.
  • Mazda3: 85 percent of all Mazda3s sold featured the automaker's new Skyactiv technology. The move to a more fuel efficient strategy appears wise.
Mazda's Losers:
  • CX-9: A good SUV, but right now the spotlight shines brightest on the smaller crossovers.
  • Mitsubishi's sales are down nearly 50 percent from this time last year. The Outlander Sport is still top dog.
  • Suzuki says it sold almost 2000 vehicles in August. That's roughly how many people buy a Toyota Camry on any given Saturday.
Source: Toyota, Lexus, Honda, Acura, Nissan, Infiniti, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Suzuki, Mazda