Fusion and Altima, along with Camry and Accord, sold more than 30,000 in March as car buyers flock back to dealerships to replace their old cars. Camry, Fusion and Altima all topped 80,000 sales for the first three months of the year.
The Fusion was redesigned for the 2012 model year, and was chosen as AOL Autos "Car of the Year." (See who beat out the Fusion for that honor here.)
What will likely determine the winner of the title this year is how many each company can actual build.The Camry has an advantage in that with two plants--in Kentucky and Indiana--building the mid-size sedan. Toyota Motor Sales senior vice president of automotive operations Bob carter told Automotive News, "We are absolutely confident we will be the No. 1 [car] in the market in 2013." We'll see. Toyota may have to spend big on incentives to move enough metal to stay no. 1.
The Fusion is built in Hermosillo, Mexico, but the company will be adding production in Michigan this fall. But it may not come in time to match Toyota's willingness to produce as many as it needs and use sales incentives to keep the title.
"Record customer sales and particularly strong demand in California and Florida will begin to place some constraints on supply starting in the coming months, which is why we are adding Fusion capacity (in Michigan)," says Ken Czubay, Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service.
Does top-selling status mean anything? For Ford or Nissan, it would be a useful headline to show the consuming public about the success of its cars. And though most Fusions are still built in Mexico for now, an eventual Ford re-take of the crown would be a big lift for Detroit. What is most important from the standpoint of Ford and its competitiveness, though, is that it has built a mid-sized family car that in every way is 100 percent competitive against the Camry and Accord, and now Nissan Altima, and if it had the production capacity for the car it could well reclaim its title.
Ford has long produced the best selling vehicle in the U.S. in the Ford F150 pickup truck.
Nissan has greater capacity to build the Altima at its Smyrna, Tenn., plant than Ford has to build Fusions and thus could be the more likely challenger to Toyota at least for this year.
Nissan launched an all-new redesigned Altima in 2012 with an eye on the crown. "We haven't built and designed this car the way we have, and made all these changes with a goal of being number-two," said Nissan Americas vice chairman Bill Krueger. Krueger admits that the consumer will vote on whether the Altima becomes the top selling car. "But we are ready to make this car the top seller if the customer agrees."