Nissan has long been the number three Asian automaker in the U.S., lagging behind both Honda and Toyota on the sales charts. But the Japanese automaker has been on a bit of a roll of late, with 10 straight months of sales gains and an aggressive product onslaught planned for the next 24 months. Nissan would love to unseat Honda to finally sneak up to the number two slot in the States, but a funny thing's happening: Hyundai is doing its best to push Nissan down to number four.

Nissan and Hyundai are currently in a dead heat in U.S. auto sales. Through July, Nissan has sold 522,669 cars and trucks, while Hyundai, when combined with Kia sales, has moved 515,316 vehicles. Hyundai has a treasure-trove of new product on dealer lots lead by the outstanding Sonata sedan. New products like the Kia Sportage and the Elantra are poised to battle hard for increased market share in their perspective segments. Nissan is countering with a new Juke in October, followed by the Leaf EV and the Quest minivan, and wrapping up with another six significantly upgraded vehicles by 2012.

So who do we think will win the battle for number two? Hyundai appears to have most of the momentum at the moment, but Nissan has a larger customer base – at the moment. In fact, we'd be surprised if either automaker surpasses Honda in the next couple years.

[Source: USA Today]