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Toyota is a venerable sales champion in the U.S., but is its reign over nearly all its competitors coming to an end? Erm, not really. Toyota sold well over one million models through the first six months of 2023, putting it second only to General Motors for automakers who have reported first-half 2023 sales. Although Toyota sales may still be a giant, it appears brands like Honda and Hyundai could be stealing away some customers from Toyota’s ranks.

Hyundai and Honda are gaining ground on Toyota sales

Through June, Toyota moved 1,027,608 models, according to GoodCarBadCar, marking a one-percent increase in year-to-date sales over the first half of 2022. While any growth can be viewed as positive, especially considering Toyota’s sales are already massive, to begin with, can be viewed as positive, the brand’s limited growth loses its luster when compared to some other manufacturers.

Hyundai Motor Group, which includes Kia and a general platform-sharing system between the two manufacturers, has started nipping at the heels of Toyota for overall sales. Hyundai reported 815,188 sales through June, an 18 percent increase in monthly sales for June, and a 19 percent increase in annual sales through the year’s first half.

Honda hasn’t been able to match the overall Toyota sales success despite having some of the best-selling models on the road. But like Hyundai, Honda is outpacing Toyota in growth.

Honda sold over 631,000 units through June, a significant 25 percent increase over this time last year.

According to GoodCarBadCar, Toyota’s U.S. market share is 11.5 percent, while Hyundai/Kia sits at nine percent ahead of Honda at seven percent.

Hyundai’s value prospects, electrification could be helping spur sales  

Part of Toyota’s sales success in the U.S. was its focus on overall value. The brand’s models packed in desirable amenities offered overall agreeable driving dynamics and strong warranties, all at relatively easy prices on the wallet.

However, Hyundai/Kia is a clear leader in its models’ value prospects. The Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade are hugely heralded for their value by offering leading pragmaticism, comfort, and features lists that are seemingly a mile long for prices that undercut the Toyota Highlander. Upper trim Telluride and Palisade models practically infringe into luxury territory.

The Highlander is still a strong player, but it’s not as appealing compared to its rivals from Hyundai and Kia. Adding to the fray are Hyundai/Kia’s near-unbeatable warranties.

Another driving factor could be Hyundai’s focus on electrification. Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 is a leader in the mainstream EV category for its exceptional charge times, ample range, spacious accommodations, and value. These traits are all shared by its sister product, the Kia EV6.

Hyundai is also making waves with its new Ioniq 6 sedan, which is also shaping up to be a leading all-electric sedan.

Meanwhile, Toyota has just one electric offering, the bZ4X, and its range, charge times, and overall value is paltry compared to just about all other EV SUVs on the market. Even though the Prius has been big in the hybridization and electrification of the U.S. market, Toyota sales now reflect little in the way of EVs.

Lineup revitalization might by why Toyota sales have stagnated

When it comes to new cars, newness often sells, and in that regard, Honda’s lineup is far more appealing than Toyota’s, which may be why Toyota’s sales are stagnating in comparison.

The CR-V, HR-V, and Pilot SUVs are all new for 2023, while the Accord rides on the same platform but is otherwise been completely revamped.

Toyota’s lineup now features the bZ4X and the new Crown crossover-like sedan, and the Prius has been thoroughly upgraded, but its other models are relatively unchanged for 2023. Some, like the Highlander, are starting to show their age, while the 4Runner, though still a sales success, is archaic compared to any other three-row midsize SUV available.

Overall, Toyota’s lineup is a bit more dated than the likes of Honda and Hyundai, which is a meaningful factor for buyers who emphasize having the latest and greatest.

Toyota isn’t likely to lose its sales crown anytime soon to Hyundai and Honda, but recent sales figures show its lead over its fellow Japanese and Korean rival is no longer as notable as it once was.


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