The recent rounds of new car registration information has been very pleasing for Honda. The Accord was the most registered vehicle manufactured in America in 2013, according to the information compiled by Polk. Nearly 3,60,089 units of the sedan have been bought by individual buyers. On the other hand, the total sales of the Toyota Camry for the year 2013 was 480,484. However, this figure includes units sold to fleet buyers as well. While Toyota is still technically ahead in the race, the number of Camry’s sold to individual customers is lower than that of the Accord at 3,42,007 units.
Honda’s decision to stay away from fleet sales is reasoned at building a better brand value of their product. Their strategy to stick to retail sales has helped them bring about good resale value for their car as well. This strategy helps in individual car sales and it seems to be working for Honda. According to a survey, the Accord had the highest residual value among mid-size cars in 2013 and also the highest resale value in the segment. Prior to this, the Toyota Camry has been leading the race since the past twelve years in retail and fleet sales.
Carmakers generally rely on fleet sales if they desire huge volumes for their product. That is, if they are ready to compromise the brand image of their car. Factors affecting the product could be unwillingness to buy on an individual level or perhaps a poor resale value. This is exactly what Honda wanted to avoid and the focus seems to have paid off. Retail sales of the Accord amount to 98 percent of the total sales whereas in the case of the Toyota Camry, 84 percent accounts for retail sales while the rest are from fleet sales. Toyota and Honda have competed for U.S. car sales leadership since the 1980s, but both are under pressure to keep volumes as new models from GM, Ford and Hyundai gain ground.