But higher transaction prices help soften the blow
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In the past, the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry have been pretty evenly matched. The Honda was a little sportier, and the Toyota was a little more comfortable, but they were both great cars. Our latest comparison test, however, showed that’s no longer the case. Drive both cars back-to-back, and the Accord is clearly the better car. As cut-throat as the midsize sedan segment is, you’d think that would translate into major sales success for Honda. You’d also be wrong.
Automotive News reports that while Honda dealers love the new Accord, they’re just having a hard time selling it. As of March 1, dealers had a much-higher-than-normal 104-day supply of Accords. And while the 55,503 Camrys sold through February marked a 16.1-percent increase for the year, Honda’s only sold 37,430 Accords, a 12.9-percent decrease. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that Nissan sold 39,888 Altimas in the same period, meaning the Accord is currently in third place.
According to the dealers Automotive News spoke to, the problem is a lack of competitive lease deals. Toyota has been offering regional lease specials on the Camry that Honda hasn’t offered on the Accord, a move that’s reportedly made it difficult for Honda dealers to get leasees into new Accords. Last-generation Accords were also less expensive, meaning it costs more to lease a new Accord than it did back in 2015.
When Automotive News ran the numbers, it found that a 36-month lease on a base Honda Accord cost $249 a month with $3,199 down. A Camry, on the other hand, could be had for only $219 a month with $1,999 down.
But while several dealers said they thought Honda needed to find a way to make Accord leases more competitive, one dealer disagreed. “I get if the car needs incentives because of a deficiency in the car. But that car is hands down the best sedan Honda has ever made. Period,” Brian Benstock, general manager of Paragon Honda in New York City, told Automotive News. “Do we need to have the same incentives that Nissan has or Toyota has? I don’t think so. We have a better product. If given the choice between better product and better incentives, I’ll take better product all day long.”
When asked for comment, Honda responded, “Honda is pleased with the growing market share and top transaction prices that the all-new 2018 Honda Accord is garnering in its segment. We continue to work collaboratively with our dealer partners and appreciate our ongoing dialogue with them to ensure the overall value proposition with each of our products is competitive in the marketplace.”
As vague as that statement is, it’s hard to tell what Honda plans to do with the new Accord. But if the sales slide continues, it may not have a choice but to start offering incentives.