Toyota Is Now One Of America's Best-Selling Sports Car Brands

Sports Cars / 10 Comments

Wait, Toyota?! The company that a decade ago had no sports cars in its lineup?

According to 2022 vehicle sales data for the United States, Toyota is now one of the best-selling sports car brands in the country. Yes, Toyota, who just more than a decade ago didn't have a single genuinely sporty car available, is now leading almost everyone else in terms of sales, and all with just two models - the Toyota GR86 and the GR Supra, the latter buoyed by the addition of a manual transmission for 2022.

What started as a comparison between the GR Supra and its chief rival, the Nissan Z, quickly snowballed into an exercise that shows just how monumental Toyota's rise has been from the most boring automaker around to one of the most exciting. Between its two dedicated performance models, Toyota sold 16,948 sports cars to Americans in 2022. And, importantly, that figure doesn't include the number of GR Corollas sold, with massive demand for the new hot hatch bound to buoy Toyota's sales into 2023.

2022-2023 Toyota GR Supra A91 -CF Front View Toyota
2022-2023 Toyota GR86 Rear Angle View Toyota

Looking at the sales data, only two brands sold more sports cars in America than Toyota, and both were domestic entities.

While Ford hasn't yet published final 2022 data, the Blue Oval had already sold 40,446 Mustangs and 83 Ford GTs by the end of October, with the total number of sports cars likely to exceed 50,000 when the final figures for the year are in. Chevrolet didn't quite manage the same success from its pony car, but it still outsold Toyota with 24,652 units moved over a 12-month cycle - 12.6% more units than it sold in 2021 - and a further 34,510 Corvettes sold during the same period.

As for Toyota, the Japanese automaker moved 11,996 GR86s for the year and sold 4,952 GR Supras.

The mechanically related Subaru BRZ performed poorly compared to the GR86, with just 3,345 customers signing on the dotted line in 2021. Meanwhile, the GR86's chief rival, the Mazda MX-5 Miata, sold just 6,171 units across both soft-top and RF body styles.

2018-2023 Ford Mustang Coupe Forward View Ford
2019-2023 Chevrolet Camaro Coupe Front Angle View Chevrolet
2016-2023 Mazda MX-5 Miata Front View Driving Mazda
2022-2023 Subaru BRZ Front Angle View Subaru

On the Supra front, its own mechanical sibling, the BMW Z4, managed just 1,567 units and, with no other dedicated sports car to its name, BMW performed relatively poorly in the grand scheme of all things sports car. The Nissan Z, while fresh to the US market, managed to sell 263 units, with massive dealer markups curtailing sales. These numbers will increase in its first full year on the market, but with only 57 GT-Rs sold, Nissan shifted just 320 sports cars for the whole of 2022. Audi, on the other hand, could only sell 516 TTs and 314 R8s, totaling 830 sports cars for the year.

The only other automaker that has the potential to beat Toyota into the top three is Porsche. Porsche hasn't published its final 2022 sales figures, but at the end of Q3 this year, the German brand had moved 7,411 and 2,426 units of the 911 and 718 families, respectively, for a total of 9,837 sports cars sold. Whether the final quarter results will see it garner another 7,000 more sales of these two lines is uncertain.

Soft Top BMW
2023 Nissan Z Side View Driving Nissan
2019-2023 Porsche 718 Cayman Front View Driving Porsche
2020-2023 Porsche 718 Boxster Driving Back View Porsche

Manufacturers with sports cars in their lineups are few and far between, but many of those that do have had these models in their lineups for years. Toyota effectively had to start from scratch after a series of dull vehicles with no excitement reset the brand's desirability meter to zero.

In the span of a decade, Toyota has reinvented itself, injecting excitement into traditionally boring models like the Corolla and Camry, introducing models with mass-market appeal like the Corolla Cross, and hitting the sports car segment harder than almost any other OEM. Many have questioned this tactic, as sports cars are typically low-volume sellers, but the passion that stems from Akio Toyoda - A.K.A. Morizo - right from the top of the organization has created halo models that drive aspirational purchasing of other models. What Toyota has done is nothing short of incredible, and other manufacturers who've fallen from grace would do well to take notes.

2022-2023 Toyota GR Supra Front Bumper CarBuzz
2022-2023 Toyota GR Supra Aft View CarBuzz
2022-2023 Toyota GR86 Rear Angle View Toyota
2022-2023 Toyota GR86 Driving Front Angle Toyota

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2019-2023 Chevrolet Camaro Coupe Front Angle View
2019-2023 Porsche 718 Cayman Front View Driving
2022-2023 Toyota GR Supra A91 -CF Front View
2022-2023 Toyota GR86 Rear Angle View
2018-2023 Ford Mustang Coupe Forward View
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