Japanese Auto Sales: Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima Battle In March; Honda CR-V Sales Boom

Toyota and Nissan posted strong March 2012 sales, but Honda wasn't so lucky. Toyota sold 183,142 cars, trucks, and SUVs in March 2012, a 17.7-percent year-over-year increase. March was the brand's best-selling month since the Cash-for-Clunkers program back in 2009. Nissan also had a best-selling month in March; its 126,132 vehicles sold represented the automaker's best sales month in its history, and an increase of 14.8 percent versus the same month last year. Honda, on the other hand, struggled to sell 115,833 vehicles, posting a 4.3 percent decrease year-over-year. All three of the Japanese Three's luxury marquees saw sales drops in March of 2011. Infiniti was the overall worst performer last month, with its 10,185 in sales representing a 9.8-percent drop year-over-year. Acura didn't perform much better; it only sold 11,166 vehicles in March, down from 12,611 units last March. Though far better off than its rivals, Lexus didn't have the best March, with its 20,140 in sales representing a 2.6-percent decrease.

Honda's hot spots:

Acura TSX: Acura's second-best-seller last month behind the MDX, the TSX was the only Acura model to increase in sales. Acura sold 3355 TSX sedans last month, a 19.4-percent increase year-over-year. Honda CR-V: A total of 30,868 CR-Vs left dealer lots last month, a 40.3 percent increase year-over-year. Honda has sold 74,587 of the Ohio-build CR-V so far this year. Last year at this point, it had sold 57,433 CR-Vs.

Honda's not-so-hot spots:

Acura RL and ZDX: We had to ask ourselves if Acura even still made the RL sedan when we saw the automaker only sold 38 RLs last month. Yes, even the Acura ZDX outsold the RL, though the ZDX's sales numbers were hardly encouraging. Acura sold 88 ZDXs last month. Acura has sold 198 ZDXs during the first three months of 2012. Honda Accord: Previously a given for the number two midsize sedan sales spot, the Honda Accord was good for 26,771 units last month, putting it behind the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, and Ford Fusion in midsize sedan sales. Honda Civic: Sales of Honda's volume car were down 9.7 percent last month to 28,199. Though representing a year-over-year sales drop, overall Civic coupe and sedan sales for the year are up 18.8 percent versus the same period last year.

Nissan's hot spots:

Nissan Altima: Nissan sold an astonishing 41,050 Altimas during March—just a handful less than the segment powerhouse Toyota Camry. The icing on the Altima's cake is that Nissan has just unveiled the 2013 Altima, which will likely help Nissan sustain the Altima's growth throughout the year. Nissan Leaf: Though sales of the all-electric Nissan Leaf are hardly through the roof, sales increased substantially last month versus the same period last year. Nissan sold 579 Leafs last month. Nissan Rogue: Nissan's second best-seller in March was its Rogue cute-ute. Nissan sold 16,972 Rogues last month, making it the best month of Rogue sales in the model's history. Rogue sales were unsurprisingly on the uptick last month, representing a 19.7-percent year-over-year increase.

Nissan's not-so-hot spots:

Infiniti G Coupe: Infiniti managed to sell just 1299 G Coupes last month, a 31.3-percent drop. Nissan Cube: The quirky Nissan Cube can't catch a break. Only 929 Cubes found homes last month, a 69.4 percent drop over the same period last year.

Toyota's hot spots:

Toyota Avalon: With an all-new model slated to debut in just a few days at the New York auto show, it's somewhat surprising to see sales of the Toyota Avalon up 25.3 percent year-over-year. Toyota sold 3327 of the large front-drive sedan last month. Toyota Camry: Surprise, surprise, the 2012 Camry was Toyota's overall best-seller for March by a wide margin. In fact, the 42,567 Camrys and Camry Hybrids sold gave Toyota's bread-and-butter its best March ever. Lexus GS: The all-new 2013 Lexus GS was perhaps the only bright spot for Toyota's luxury brand last month. The 2013 GS is effortlessly outselling the outgoing model. Lexus sold 2558 GS sedans last month. Scion iQ: The diminutive three-cylinder city car gets an honorable mention this past month for outselling the larger Scion xD. Scion managed to move 1285 iQs last month, putting it on track to potentially outsell the xD for the year.

Lexus’ not-so-hot spots:

Lexus ES: Lexus sold 3141 ES sedans last month, still making it the brand's second best-seller overall despite a 15.8-percent drop. With the debut of a new model just around the corner, sales will likely pick up later this year. Lexus RX: Sales of the luxury crossover king were down by 17.9 percent last month. Though still Lexus' overall best seller, only 7057 RXs were sold in the month of March. As is the case with the ES, Lexus probably isn't fretting much; an updated model is on its way. Source: Honda, Nissan, Toyota    

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