By on June 25, 2012

Last week I wondered whether the Ford Focus could soon become the world’s most popular car… The response may lie in today’s article as it is time for our monthly appointment: the World car sales Roundup for May! You can check out previous world Roundups here for March 2012  (“Has the Hybrid era started for good?”), and here for April 2012 (“Big change coming from India”).

Not your thing? No worries, you can visit 164 countries and territories in my blog, go on, you know you want to!

So in March we talked hybrids, in April we talked India, this month my accent will be American, Chinese and South African…

Yep – all in one.

And yes. I have decided that Roundup doesn’t have a hyphen between Round and up. Because I can.

This month the focus is on General Motors, reporting its highest US monthly sales in almost 3 years in May at 245,256 units in a market up a huge 26% on May 2012. Illustrating this performance, the new gen Chevrolet Malibu sells 29,579 units in the States which is the nameplate’s strongest volume in at least 10 years.

General Motors is also under the spotlight in China where it sells a May record 231,183 vehicles with its joint-ventures. While the Buick Excelle is still the best-selling passenger car in the country year-to-date, the Chevrolet Sail tops the Chinese ranking for the first time ever in May with 30,163 sales. It thus becomes only the third model in Chinese history to sell over 30,000 monthly units after the BYD F3 which last passed this milestone in March 2010, and the VW Passat last January.

The other headline-maker this month is the Toyota Etios. After warming up for 18 months in India, the Etios’ expansion across the planet has started via South Africa where it lands directly in 7th place with 1,315 units and 2.6% share. It took the Etios 8 months to first appear in the Indian Top 10 but it has done so right away in SA. Sales in South America start in September with Brazil and Argentina. If successful there, the Etios could become yet another worldwide blockbuster for Toyota…

The Ford Focus, although slightly disappointing in Europe at #7 and -16% year-on-year, seems to have found its cruising rhythm in other parts of the world: it excels in China at #2 with 23,140 sales, is very solid in the US at #11 with 24,769 units (+12%) and is at its best since January 2008 in Australia with other good performances including a pole position in Ireland and a 2nd place in Norway. The Focus could threaten the Corolla for the #1 spot worldwide in May. I will make sure this will be covered in a future article once absolutely all data has come through.

Other great performers this month include the Renault Megane, leader in Spain and the Netherlands and #2 in France, meaning it returns in the European Top 10 for the first time this year at #7. The Maruti Swift and Dzire break market share records once again in India with 20,050 sales and 9.4% (+57%) and 17,707 and 8.3% (+64%) respectively. The Toyota Aqua threat is getting stronger each month in Japan: it is only 600 units below the Prius in May.

With 12,817 sales and 8.7% in Italy, the Fiat Panda reaches its highest market share there since May 2009. For higher Panda shares we have to go back to the first generation’s very first years in 1981 and 1982. Other Fiat good news come from overseas: the Fiat Linea is now the most popular model in Turkey and the Fiat 500 is in the UK Top 10 for the 2nd month in a row, but in Brazil the Fiat Uno and Palio still haven’t managed to durably put a dent into the VW Gol’s domination of the market.

In the UK, the Vauxhall Corsa is #1 for the first time since October 2008 with 8,413 sales and 5.2% share but stays #2 year-to-date behind the Ford Fiesta. As Renault manages to monopolise the French models ranking podium for the first time since October 1998, the Peugeot 208 breaks into the Top 5 for the first time at #5 and starts to appear in most European rankings, with #4 in Portugal (April) and #12 in Croatia its best showings so far.

Another 2012 newcomer, the VW Up! also shines: it breaks into the German Top 20 for the first time at #19 with 4,445 sales and 1.5% share and hurts the Polo in doing so. It is also #9 in Croatia and #11 in the Netherlands.

In Australia, an extremely rare change of guard is unfolding before our eyes. After the Mazda3 put an end to 15 consecutive years of sales domination of the Holden Commodore in 2011, for the first time since the nameplate’s launch 1978 it looks like the Commodore won’t be the best-selling Holden this year… Instead, the Holden Cruze has beaten the Commodore for the second month in a row in May and the third time this year.

In Russia still up 11% year-on-year in May, the Lada Granta is stuck just outside the podium at #4 for the third consecutive month, potentially due to a slow production start. This is not enough for Lada to stabilise falling sales: with the Samara down 45% and the 2104 down 75%, Lada’s market share in Russia has fallen from 24% over 5 months 2011 to 18% now…

While its domination in the US and Canada (up 46% year-on-year!) goes without saying, this month the Ford F-Series’s best performing country is…Venezuela! The Ford F250 ranks #3 with a best-ever 7.8% of the Venezuelan market. Impressive.

Other worldwide highlights in May include the new gen Hyundai Santa Fe directly #5 in South Korea with 7,809 sales, the Mercedes B-Class hitting its highest ever ranking in Germany at #6, the Hyundai i30 #2 in Austria and #3 in Slovakia at a record 3.8% share and the Suzuki Ertiga up to #5 in Indonesia, on track to become a millionaire country by the end of the year for the first time in South-East Asia.

In other news, the Audi Q3 breaks into any Top 20 for the first time in 2 countries simultaneously: Austria at #17 and Switzerland at #19, the Dacia Lodgy breaks into the French Top 50 at #48 and a Citroen leads the models ranking in Greece for the first time since July 1999: the Citroen C3.

Now if this doesn’t quench your thirst for numbers I don’t know what will!

Until next month for our next World roundup (not round-up)!

Matt Gasnier, based in Sydney, Australia, runs a blog named Best Selling Cars, dedicated to counting cars all over the world.

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3 Comments on “World Car Sales Roundup May 2012: GM and Toyota Etios Make Headlines...”


  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    Good stuff Matt, but please double check your info on Venezuela’s F-series sales.

    Both the F-350 and F-250 are sold over there http://www.ford.com.ve/. The F-350 is always a chassis-cab and has been a perennial best seller in its segment. Actually the 350 number is commonly employed when referring to light commercial trucks, similarly the long time ago abandoned 750 is still used for a medium duty truck. There you go with a free wisdom nugget from your neighbor.

    F-250 is available as a normal pick-up or a 4 door one. Both with the 6.2lt V8… FTMFW!

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    Heh, I’m surprised that the Chinese Malibu ad actually tries to connect the 2013 vehicle to the 2nd generation Malibu…that ad was filled with a massive amount of retro Americana for a Chinese car ad…

    Though I think you’d have to be delusional to have the 2013 Malibu actually remind you of a 68 Malibu.


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