Despite increasing competition in its segment, Nissan North America commenced production of the high-volume Altima last week with the expectation that it will further raise its volume level. The vehicle, which has been revamped for the 2013 model year, will be available for sale on June 26. However, rivals Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu and Ford Fusion also have been redesigned for the same model year.
Moreover, the Toyota Camry and Volkswagen Passat were revamped for this year. These are two other key mid-sized vehicle segment rivals. In addition, a question arose whether Nissan could build sufficient number of Altima units to challenge the market-leading Camry.
For Nissan, this is particularly significant, as the Altima has been increasing in sales for the past year. The automaker hopes to make the most of these gains. The Altima has been tagged as the also-ran among family sedans for a major part of its 20-year life.
However, it leaped to the No. 2 position in its segment after an earthquake in March hit Japan last year. Months after the calamity, the automaker surpassed the Accord and closely tailed the Camry.
Nissan Americas Vice Chairman Bill Krueger stated that Nissan plans to maintain the momentum with the refurbished model, but not by offering incentives. Specifically, he stated that he is "willing to build demand by putting value out in the market place."
However, he is "not willing" to slash profit margin in order to attempt and to surpass "a number that one of our competitors is doing." He added that their "best foot forward" will be "the product." The revamped Altima features segment-leading overall weight and fuel economy; however, product planners admitted that they have no idea as of the moment what Honda will offer in the 2013 Accord.