US: Nissan ready to overtake Honda image

For the last quarter of century, the US dominance of Japanese automakers revolved around just two names – Toyota and Honda. Today, Nissan is ready to close the gap and fight the latter for the second place.

Honda, which hit a snag this year in the US and has modest declines in sales in recent months, is threatened by Nissan’s aggressive push: many new and stylish models, a wider vehicle line-up and big discounts. Analysts and executives predict Nissan could overcome Honda’s US sales in the next years – for the first time since 1987.

“I’m sure that we will overtake Honda,” said Jose Munoz, the chairman of Nissan North America. ”How long is it going to take us? Time will tell, but it’s going to happen.”

“The cars are high quality, they’re very reliable, but not necessarily exciting,” says Dave Sargent, vice president, global automotive, at research firm J.D. Power. On the other hand, “the image Honda has for quality and reliability is notably better” than Nissan’s.

Munoz says Nissan is now targeting a 10% market share in the US before 2017, after in the first seven months of the year it already reached 8.6%. That’s an increase from 2009’s 7.4% – while Honda has been sliding slowly to 9.1%, its lowest share since 2006. For good measure, Toyota holds around 15% of the US auto market.

Via Reuters