If you’re a car buff, and have traveled abroad, you’ve doubtless noticed that the mix of auto brands you see on the streets is radically different from one country to another. In many other markets, vehicles that rule the roads here in the US are rare birds, while brands and individual models that most Americans have never heard of dominate.
For example, when I travel in Europe, I’m struck by the relative rarity of US and Japanese brands, and the near-total absence of pickup trucks (except in the vicinity of farms).
A new infographic from Budget Direct Car Insurance highlights the best-selling vehicles in the world, using 2019 sales data.
Some of the info here is just what you’d expect. We know that Norway and the Netherlands are currently the most electrified countries in the world, so it’s not a big surprise that Tesla’s Model 3 is the best-selling vehicle in both. (Will Tesla add another country or two in next year’s survey?)
We also already knew that the Ford F-150 pickup absolutely dominates the US and Canada—but it turns out to be a minor player everywhere else. Pickups may get short shrift in densely-populated Europe, but buyers in many countries with wide-open spaces love pickups—just not Fords. The Toyota Hi-Lux pickup is the top seller in Australia, Argentina, Peru and at least eight countries in Africa. An outlier is New Zealand, which loves the Ford Ranger.
In fact, with a few exceptions, the Big Three don’t tend to top sales rankings outside the US. GM recently sold its Opel brand and pulled out of Europe altogether, and Ford has a pretty minor presence in the European region—except for the UK, where the Ford Fiesta has been the top-selling car for years. A couple of other outliers: the Chevrolet Onix, which comes in sedan and hatchback versions, is the top seller in Brazil and Paraguay. And who knew the tiny Chevy Spark would be the favorite car in Ecuador?
Any self-respecting automaker expects to dominate sales in its home country, and that pattern holds true almost everywhere. The VW Golf rules Germany, Volvo sweeps Sweden, Fiat is it in Italy, and SEAT (now a Volkswagen Group subsidiary) has Spain sewn up. Even parts of the world that we Yanks don’t tend to be familiar with have their own automakers—Russia’s Lada and Iran’s Saipa dominate their home markets, and in India, Maruti, a local joint venture with Suzuki, tops the list.
The global top dog is Toyota, which had the best-selling vehicle in 41 of the 104 countries surveyed, as well as the world’s best-selling vehicle overall in 2019, the Corolla. It’s also currently the world’s largest automaker by sales (but not by market value—a certain California Carmaker holds that title). Ironically, Toyota doesn’t top the list in its home country—in Japan, the best-selling model was the Honda N-Box (whatever that is).
Another global insight: sedans and hatchbacks are far from dead, however out of style they may be in the US at the moment. Sedans were the best-selling vehicles in 25 countries, edging out trucks (24) and SUVs (20). Subcompacts led in 19 countries, and hatchbacks held the top spot in 12 markets.