The 2013 Altima rolled off the assembly line here at the Nissan's sprawling manufacturing centre just outside of Music City, Nashville, Tenn. Nissan has enormous expectations for the fifth-generation family sedan – beat Camry.
Toyota's Camry midsize sedan is the best-selling car in the good ol' USA, and for the last few months it's been the top-selling car in its class. Over the past two years Altima has been No. 1 here among the Japanese entries – though it is still out-sold by the Hyundai Sonata and Ford Fusion. But in the big picture, Nissan wants to unseat Camry. It may happen.
In a good year, Toyota sells about 400,0000-plus Camrys in the U.S., and another 25,000 or so in Canada. Last year, Nissan sold just north of 300,000 Altimas in Canada and the U.S. combined. The trick for Nissan is to push past Camry with the reinvented Altima.
Nissan thinks it's possible with its new four-door. They argue for its fuel economy (38 miles per gallon in the U.S., TBD in Canada), styling, comfort (so-called zero-gravity seats) and electronic gizmos – things like lane departure warning.
The Altima, of course, is a mainstay for Nissan. When the first 2013 rolled off the line here on Tuesday, it marked 20 years since the first Nissan Altima rolled off the line in Smyrna. More than 4.4 million Altimas later, Nissan is confident the latest version is a world-beater, or at least a Camry killer.
Bill Krueger, vice-chairman of Nissan Americas said: "This generation is not only the most innovative Altima ever, it also becomes the benchmark for quality in the midsize car segment. And there's no better plant to rise to the challenge than our top-quality manufacturing operations in Smyrna."
So the game is on in the midsize car wars.