It's been an interesting month in the competitive world of mid-size sedan sales, but not for the reasons you might think. There's still no movement at the top or bottom of the list, but the squabbling between American and Japanese competitors is fierce.
Let's get the usual story lines out of the way: the Toyota Camry sold 39,571 units last month, earning it first place. Eighth, ninth, and tenth places went to the Kia Optima (13,364 units), the Volkswagen Passat (10,178 units), and the Mazda6 (2294 units). The 6 has slipped from an intra-year high of 7855 units in March, which could be partly due to the fact that production in Flat Rock, Michigan is ending. Mazda reportedly has about a 40-day supply of the car, and that number may or may not level until the new 6 arrives early next year.
With that said, spots two through seven were a little bit more dramatic. The silver medal once again goes to the Honda Accord, which has largely rebounded from the production shortfalls of 2011 and sold 29,737 units last month. The Accord's success is partly aided by the Nissan Altima, which has fallen to 6th place. The Altima's podium-less finish can almost all be attributed to supply issues: supplies of the 2012 model are dwindling as Nissan begins the rollout of the all-new 2013 model. All in all, the Altima nameplate still sold 22,690 units.
Third place, right behind the Accord, was the Chevrolet Malibu, sales of which are also a mix of 2012 and new 2013 Malibu Eco models. Chevrolet sold 29,579 units of the sedan, the best showing so far this year by a long margin. A respectable fourth place goes to the Ford Fusion, which sold 26,857 units. The car was up 8.9 percent year-over-year, a solid showing considering that the 2013 model will be on its way to dealers soon.
Fifth goes to the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger duo, which has returned to the middle of the pack after a third-place showing last month. With 24,112 sales last month, the two cars continue to sell well.
Seventh place, meanwhile, went to the Hyundai Sonata, with 20,765 units. Like the Volkswagen Passat, it would appear that Sonata sales are hampered somewhat by its plant capacity. The Chattanooga, Tennessee plant that makes the Passat is only recently able to make 170,000 units a year (translating to a maximum of 14,167 units/month), and Hyundai's Alabama plant will expand this year to 330,000 units a year (27,500 units/month) between the Sonata and Elantra. It would appear that VW and Hyundai don't sell more units of the Sonata and Passat because, with current production capacities, they can't make enough.
Sources: Volkswagen, Hyundai, Kia, Honda, Toyota, Mazda, General Motors, Chrysler, Ford, Automotive News Data Center (Subscription needed)