By on April 30, 2011

After Argentina and Brazil some weekends ago, our whirlwind tour around the globe takes us back to the American continent this weekend, further up north, on a visit to Mexico.

Now if Mexican cars don’t excite you as much as a plate of nachos, that’s ok! There are 153 other países to explore in my blog. You will enjoy it mucho mucho, te lo prometo!

After a peak at 1.140 million units in 2006, the Mexican new car market had been slipping down, accelerating its fall to minus 26 percent in 2009. The drop was halted in 2010 when the market grew 9 percent at 820,406 registrations. So far, 2011 is looking pretty good too, with a 12 percent increase over the first quarter.

If you have never been to Mexico, this will surprise you: Mexico is the country in the world where Nissan is the most successful! Yep, it’s not Japan, and it’s not even an Asian country. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in the country this year, Nissan is by far the best selling brand in Mexico with a 24 percent market share during the first quarter of 2011.

Nissan is so popular in Mexico that partner Renault launched some of its models under the Nissan brand, just there. In 2002, the Renault Symbol was released as the Nissan Platina, to some success: the model was number 2 in 2005 and 2006.

In 2007, Renault launched the popular (and on paper perfect for Mexico) Dacia Logan as the Nissan Aprio, but it flopped.

Instead, it is the Nissan Tsuru, a 1991 Nissan Sentra, that has been dominating the Mexican market for the last six years.

Particularly popular with taxi companies, the Nissan Tsuru is a no-frill, robust and affordable sedan ($US9,000) that fits the bill perfectly for the Mexican consumer and, 20 years after its original launch, it seems to never want to end its reign. It still holds the pole position over the first quarter of 2011 with 15,804 sales and 7.5 percent market share.

Actually, there is one car that could start to threaten the Tsuru’s domination, and it is also an old generation model that has been kept in production as a low cost offer.

Volkswagen has not managed to lead the models ranking since 2003 when the Pointer (the Mexican Gol) was all the rage. In late 2010, the 6th generation Jetta was launched, and the existing generation (in fact a restyled 4th generation dating back to 1999) was renamed ‘Clasico’.

And the VW Clasico led the Mexican car market in February 2011 just above the Tsuru. It is up 65 percent year-on-year over the first quarter of 2011…

Confirming the hold it has on the country, Nissan places a second model on the podium: the Nissan Tiida sedan, known as Versa across the border. At 5.6 percent market share over Q1 2011, it is up an astounding (given the model is about to be face lifted) 65 percent year-on-year. Mexico is one of the Tiida’s top 3 performing countries in the world.

Did I mention Nissan kicked ass in Mexico?

But wait there’s more: a total of 4 Nissans in the Top 7! The Sentra is number 6 and the Chasis Largo is number 7 and best selling commercial vehicle.

General Motors is the number 2 brand in the country and it shows in the models Top 10: the Aveo is number 4, the Spark number 8 and the Chevy tres puertas (a 1993 Opel Corsa) number 9…

One last development you absolutely need to be aware of if you want to show off your knowledge of the Mexican car market is the constant progression of Spanish manufacturer Seat since its introduction in the country in 2001, and especially since the launch of the last generation Ibiza in 2009. Seat is now the tenth most successful brand in the country, with sales up 55 percent year-on-year in Q1 2011.

The Seat Ibiza lodged its best ever month in Mexico in March 2011, ranking 9th with 1,365 sales and 1.8 percent share.

Now that I’ve gone through it in a certain amount of detail I thought you’d like to see the Top 10 best selling cars in Mexico during Q1 2011:

Top 10 Mexico Q1 2011:

Pos Model 2011 % /10
1 Nissan Tsuru 15,804 7.5% 10%
2 VW Clasico 14,701 7.0% 65%
3 Nissan Tiida Sedan 12,531 5.9% 65%
4 Chevrolet Aveo 8,377 4.0% 38%
5 VW Nuevo Jetta 5,968 2.8% new
6 Nissan Sentra 2.0 5,562 2.6% 7%
7 Nissan Chasis Largo 5,176 2.5% 17%
8 Chevrolet Spark 4,994 2.4% new
9 Chevrolet Chevy 3pts 4,301 2.0% -3%
10 Mazda3 3,480 1.7% -2%


And the same ranking for the whole of 2010 …


Top 10 Mexico Full Year 2010:

Pos Model 2010 % /09
1 Nissan Tsuru 61,147 7.5% 12%
2 VW Clasico 41,361 5.0% 31%
3 Nissan Tiida Sedan 38,206 4.7% 78%
4 Chevrolet Aveo 29,409 3.6% 22%
5 Chevrolet Chevy 3pts 19,722 2.4% 34%
6 Nissan Sentra 2.0 19,528 2.4% 37%
7 Nissan Chasis Largo 19,099 2.3% 19%
8 Chevrolet Chevy 4pts 18,387 2.2% 36%
9 VW Bora 15,400 1.9% -17%
10 Mazda3 13,213 1.6% 43%


Now if you want to know the Mexican market in more detail month by month for the last 6 months and year by year up to 2003, you can always check my blog here.

That’s all for today!

Source of Mexican sales figures: Asociacion Mexicana de Distribuidores de Automotores, A.C.

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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18 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Mexico, Nissan’s Kingdom...”

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    That particular generation of Sentra was always my favorite.

    BTW when was the top pic taken? I love the pristne Buick Riviera in the foreground.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m with you on that hot Riv, Dan. There’s a less than pristine example that I pass a few times a week. It’s got the Visual Information Center. It’s amazing how that touchscreen was panned as if it was the worst, most clueless thing a company could make, but now a car isn’t considered to be luxury unless it has a touchscreen or two.

  • avatar

    I was in Mexico City for a couple days, 9 months or so ago, and I swear half the cars on the VERY busy roads were Tsuru’s and old Beetle’s.

    And I agree with Dan, my favorite Sentra as well.

  • avatar

    Every time I go to Mexico I end up in a series of Tsuru cabs. All the windshields are cracked, the MIL is always on, the car squeaks and the drivers seem to pay only limited attention to the very severe speed bumps that are everywhere – maybe because the speedo’s broken. For a modern car these seem to run OK even when multiple things are going wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The B13 was the high-water mark for the Sunny/Sentra. Most of the Tsuru trim parts will fit on the US Sentras, though the 93-94s are easier since those were built at Aguascalientes.

  • avatar

    I frequent Mexico and always rent a car. I usually have the choice between a Tsuru, a Tiida, or a Dodge Attitude (last gen hyundai elantra). The next class up offers a VW Bora (last gen Jetta) or late model Dodge Avenger with the 2.4L engine. For a few bucks more you can have a 2-door Wrangler. The Tiida and Tsuru are great, the Bora isn’t worth the money, and the Avenger is a horrible car, but if you need the extra space it has a big trunk. The Wrangler is the optimal choice for coastal tourist destinations in Mexcio, but women don’t like messing up their hair on the drive out at night.

    • 0 avatar

      The Dodge Attitude is actually an Accent, not an Elantra. We’ve never had the Elantra in Mexico. The only 2 Hyundai models sold in mexico are the Dodge Atos (Hyundai Atos, and Dodge Attitude (Hyundai Accent

  • avatar
    Cerbera LM

    Surprised the Koreans aren’t on the list. Around Torreon the Hyundai Atos seems to be the second most popular taxi after the Tsuru.

    Atos as a donut mobile:

    • 0 avatar

      I also think that the koreans would be succesful in Mexico, mostly because their low price and reliability in their last model iterations.

      But for them to remain cheap, they’ll have to build them here or import them from the US (no or very low tax because of the TLCAN) and that requieres a lot of investment. But as Matt noted, the market is just rising up, from a very steep fall in the last 5-7 years. Lets hope that the hyundai group will bring their metal around here soon.

  • avatar

    They gave me a Tsuru without power steering at a rental company once… Is that normal, or was the thing broken? Steering was ridiculously heavy.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know if the Tsuru is offered without power steering, but it isn’t uncommon for rentals to lack it in Mexico. We had a Nissan B2000 or 2200 (don’t remember which) without power steering as a rental once…that was an interesting trip. A lot depends on where you go; the posher tourist spots have really stepped up their rental options in recent years. I remeber trips to the baja in the mid-90’s when you had two choices a Mexican beetle or a beetle convertible.

      • 0 avatar

        With the Tsuru, the cheapest trim is sold without power steering, as many other lowest trims on the most cheapest cars (mostly subcompacts): Chevrolet Chevy (Opel Coarsa from 1993), Dodge Atos (hyundai), VW Gol and probably other subcomapcts tha I can’t remember at this moment.

  • avatar

    I wonder what’s the oldest platform currently in production someplace in the world (Morgan doesn’t count).

  • avatar

    If Morgan doesn’t count, Bristol probably doesn’t either.

  • avatar

    Down Mexico way does Nissan do CVT, VW dual-clutch?

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I was south of the border last year and saw as well as rode in many of these vehicles as cabs, especially the Versa and Sentra/Tsuru. I saw plenty of Seat’s as well, the Leon and Cordoba models (I guess Mopar gave up it’s copyright on the name). They looked very attractive and Italian in design probably styled from their previous Fiat ownership but VW has owned them for the last several years.

  • avatar

    I live South of the Border, and our second car is a 2007 Tsuru. They ARE popular with the cabbies for two simple reasons: they’re tough little cars – very hard to break but easy to fix, and they’re very cheap to operate – really good on gas & parts are relatively cheap. Except for the now extinct beetle taxis in Mexico City, you almost never see a VW as a taxi. The most popular Mexican models are all pretty tough customers though, they have to be, because it doesn’t matter if it’s city or country, Mexican roadways pound the sheet out of automobiles.

  • avatar


    Guys the April figures are now out for Mexico and surprise, the VW Clasico manages to take the 1st spot this month with a comfortable margin over the Nissan Tsuru. The Tsuru is still #1 year-to-date though.

    Top 3 Mexico April 2011:

    1. VW Clasico 4,795
    2. Nissan Tsuru 4,235
    3. Nissan Tiida Sedan 3,760

    Complete Top 10 is here:

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