The first mass-production version of the 2013 model year Honda Motor Co (7267.T) Accord sedan, fully made over and the most important new vehicle for Honda this year in the U.S. market, rolled off an Ohio assembly line on Monday, the company said.
The 2013 Accord will go on sale at U.S. dealerships next month. The 2012 version of the Accord is the second-biggest-selling car in the United States so far this year, behind the Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) Camry.
The Accord has been made at the Honda plant northwest of Columbus, Ohio since 1982, when Honda became the first Japanese automaker with a U.S. plant.
Since then, more than 9 million Accord sedans have been made at the plant.
"For 30 years, the Accord has been the signature vehicle from Honda, and it remains the industry benchmark in a very competitive segment," said Hide Iwata, president and chief executive of Honda of America Manufacturing.
Honda hopes that the full makeover of the Accord will help it keep pace or outsell the likes of the Camry, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion, Chevrolet Malibu and Hyundai Sonata.
Sales generally spike when a model gets a makeover, and Honda expects that the ninth-generation of the Accord will follow that trend when it goes on sale next month. Sales for the current 2012 version of the Accord are up 28 percent this year.
The midsize sedan market is the most competitive in the United States. By year's end, most of the major competitors will be selling models that have been significantly updated in the past year.
Through July, five of the 11 top-selling models in the U.S. auto market were midsize sedans. And, excluding pickup trucks and SUVs, five of the top seven were midsize sedans.
The top-selling midsize car through July was far and away the Camry, updated last year, at 243,816 sold. That was 24 percent more than the Accord, followed closely by the Nissan Motor Co (7201.T) Altima.
Most of those Altima sales were for its 2012 model, which is still on dealer lots, sharing space with the new 2013 Altima.
The first revamped Camry rolled off an assembly line in Kentucky a year ago this week. Sales of Camry are up 40 percent so far this year.
After Altima in 2012 sales is the Ford Motor Co (F.N) Fusion. A new Fusion for the 2013 model year will go on sale later this year.
Then, in order, comes the Chevrolet Malibu from General Motors Co (GM.N) and the Sonata from Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS).
(Reporting By Bernie Woodall; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Steve Orlofsky)