By on May 14, 2011

After Great Britain’s official (an royal) figures last weekend, now is the time to explore a country that doesn’t have any official car sales data available. And what better time to go back to basics and look at the alphabet and where it all began: the letter A. So this weekend we are going to Albania.

And why not?

Now if you want to know about the best selling models in less obscure countries in the world, you’ve found the right place. There are 154 other countries to explore in my blog. You will enjoy it. That’s an order.

The reason why I wanted to stop in Albania for a while during our round the world tour is that the Albanian car market is very particular.

Exploring the streets of Tirana and Durres through YouTube video reveals that as much as 1 in every 3 cars in circulation in the country is a second-hand 1990’s Mercedes…

Probably the highest concentration of Mercedeses anywhere in the world!

There are very few new cars in the streets, and they are the most unexpected. The most common new cars in Albania are luxury SUV’s. And when I say luxury, I mean Range Rover, Ranger Rover Sport …

BMW X5, Mercedes M-Class and GL-Class …

and Porsche Cayenne.

Yep, these cars will set you back at least USD 50,000 (unless, you bought them somewhere, well, cheap.) That doesn’t seem to be an issue for the Albanian consumer. Or are we really talking about the average Albanian consumer here? I let you draw the conclusions yourself.

Appearing much less often than the SUV’s above, ‘normal’ passenger cars would follow in the models ranking if there was one. Among them the Chevrolet Aveo, Fiat Punto, VW Golf and Opel Corsa. You would have thought these cars led the way like in any other Eastern European country. Well it isn’t so.

Interestingly, a few models have Albania as their only European port-of-call like the VW Gol, imported from Brazil, the Chery QQ straight from China and Toyota Avanza from Indonesia… A very particular market indeed…

This speculation is based on my observation of YouTube videos and the help of a friend of mine, Matthias from Germany, who spent some time in Albania and was able to help figure out which are the best selling models there.

That’s all for today!

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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15 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Albania, The Richest Country In The World?...”

  • avatar

    Ah yes, the infamous Albanian travel advertisement:

    “Come to Albania… your car is already here.”

  • avatar

    Many of the fancier ones have been stolen off the streets of NYC and northern suburbs.

  • avatar

    I like this one:

  • avatar

    Reminds me of a trip to Bratislawa, Slovakia. It’s also one of the former Soviet republics that hasn’t developed as well as some of the others in the last 20 years. Though the city looked quite clean and has some nice buildings, I remember it mostly because there was almost nobody on the streets. All the cars were either 10-15 year old beaters, some 5 year old Mercs, BMWs and Audis and the only new cars were SUVs. Saw one 20 y/o looking guy with a beautiful girl getting into a new Sclade (which is not sold through official channels in most European countries)…Couldn’t help but think mobster, but then maybe his father is a completely decent politician making an earnest living.

    New Land Rovers and Range Rovers were also quite popular.

    Overall though, some of these countries still have quite a bit of catching up to do economically, but (partly because of that perhaps) it’s an interesting area of the world.

  • avatar

    Doesnt look like American SUVs are popular enuff even to get stolen maybe they only steal cars with ability on and off road

  • avatar

    As said, it has mafia written all over it. Albanian mafia, Yugoslavian mafia. I know the Yugoslavian mafia is strong in Sweden and the nordic countries, due to a large population and networks of immigrants. Cars are stolen all over Europe and then shipped back east. I guess people in the right connections are bribed, so that the cars receive a proper registration. I don’t know if they dare take the cars out of Albania on vacation, though. Could be problems meeting various customs. I guess it’s just one of many ways of laundering money.

    Incidentally, when I worked in Stockholm some fifteen years ago as a motorcycle messenger, I worked with some former car thieves. Former or former, they were still in the game. They stole a car, took it for a joyride, and then delivered it to Russian mobster contacts in the free port. They had a standing asignment for 10K dollars per car. That was before the real SUV craze, so it was mostly high end Mercedes, BMW and Audis. The cars were then shipped to Russia and St Petersburg. So I guess it’s the same in Albania.

  • avatar

    Watching Top Gear explained this phenomenon to me. It’s quite interesting but essentially Albania is a third world country without a strong central government to curtail this sort of dealings and though it’s a crime it seems to be the primary economic draw for the country. I’m surprised the EU and Russia hasn’t tried to curtail this why offering economic rewards for stopping the theft.

    Though I find it kind of ironic that the sheer number of cars stolen has left even the relatively poor own a decent car.

  • avatar

    great post Matt! Thanks!

    Crazily, if you take out the Benz and weird trucks and vans (what the heck is that 3-wheeler?), it looks a lot like a Brazilian car scene due to all the small Euro cars. I saw them all and more than 2 Fiat Unos and Tipos, too!

    Interestingly I saw few French cars. Though at the end I think Isaw a Renult Nevada SW and I’m sure I saw a grey Clio towards the end. No Peugeots or Citroëns.

    • 0 avatar

      There is also one Citroën ZX in the middle of the video.
      Another interesting point is the lack of Toyotas: most Japanese cars are Nissan.
      And the only other brands are VW, Opel and Fiat. There’s a distinct lack of variety out there…

  • avatar

    the mercedes it the first pic has italian 1990’s plates…

  • avatar

    Matt Gasnier, based in Sydney, Australia, runs a blog named Best Selling Cars, dedicated to counting cars all over the world,
    hej mat why write from thhat far?
    and why you tube?
    u’ll be wellcomed!

  • avatar

    The cars are one thing, actually driving there is another world altogether.—not-for-the-fainthearted-a301950

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