By on June 11, 2011

We have been to Africa already in our Round the World whirlwind adventure, in Libya, Yemen and Ivory Coast, but this weekend it is time to visit Egypt, where the ‘middle-eastern revolution’ movement has started.

Alas. the data revolution is delayed. In Egypt, we are again faced with the now familiar issue of having no official sales data. By now you would all know that this was not going to discourage me, however, this time I didn’t even need the help of my old mate YouTube because I have actually BEEN to Egypt, lucky me!

Now if you have been to Egypt too and already know all there is to know about which cars the pharaohs drive everyday, that’s ok, there are 154 more countries to explore in my blog, so either run to your mummy, or go, check out the blog. OK and now I will stop with random Egypt/pyramid/Cleopatra-related wordplays. I promise.

And as usual I will cut to the chase and tell you that if you were to remember just 3 words about the Egyptian car market they would be:

Chevrolet, Hyundai and Speranza.

Speran-what? I know.

But before I get to that, a bit of background. My trip to Egypt dates back to December 2008/January 2009, but the Egyptian car landscape most probably only marginally changed since then as most of the best selling models of that time are still in dealerships today in their current generation, making my little 2009 study – very conveniently – still relevant in 2011.

I visited Cairo, Luxor and Aswan so this study is the result of a good mix of big cities and touristic hubs. However there is nothing official in this speculation so if you have any more info about the Egyptian market please make sure to get in touch!

At the top of the ranking, the Chevrolet Aveo and the Hyundai Elantra are fighting it out for the 1st place. There is no foolproof way to figure out which of these two models is actually the best seller in Egypt but one thing is certain: they are head and shoulders above the competition.

Based on my observations, the model that should climb on the lowest step of the podium is the Speranza A516. “The what?” I can hear you say all the way from Sydney, Australia where I’m quietly writing this post …

Well. One of the most interesting characteristics of the Egyptian car market is the prevalence of Chinese models. I would even go as far as saying that Egypt is one of the few countries in the world outside China where Chinese models have managed to make a significant mark. The others would probably include Iraq, Laos, Madagascar, Ivory Coast, Cuba and Ethiopia. But you already knew this because you have been exploring my blog in detail. Ha!

In Egypt, the Chinese have proceeded differently. After General Motors bought Daewoo, Chery made an agreement with the owners of the Daewoo plant in Cairo in 2006 to assemble its models in the country under the brand Speranza, exclusive to Egypt.

So under the bizarrely-exotic-but-also-incomprehensibly-numbered Speranza A516 name is hidden a (slightly) more familiar Chery A5. And my estimations place the A516 in 3rd position in Egypt. Not bad at all and perhaps the highest position achieved by a Chinese model in an export market – 100% Chinese models already struggle to make it to the podium in their own country so figuring out how to do so overseas is probably something they haven’t sat down to think about yet. So there. This is what a Speranza A516 looks like:

And from behind:

Now while we’re at it with the Chinese, I can tell you that the Speranza A620 (a Chery Easter) and A113 (or Chery A1) should also find a place in the Top 20, based on the Cairo traffic landscape I got to see a couple of years ago. The Speranza A216 (or Chery QQ6) is a bit more discreet but I thought I’d still show one to you:

The other Chinese brand that seems to have had a good start in Egypt is Brilliance: the Galena is very likely to be in the Top 15, and the FRV was just starting a promising Egyptian career by the time I was there. To give you some perspective, a Brilliance in the Top 15 is something the brand is dreaming about achieving in China, and it hasn’t happened in a very long time…

Coming back to our models ranking: As I said earlier, Hyundai and Chevrolet seem to be dominating the streets. On top of the Elantra, Hyundai should also place the Matrix, the Verna (aka Accent) and the i10 in the Top 20.

As for Chevrolet, the Optra (the best seller in neighbor Libya) was likely to rank within the Top 5 when I was there, but in the meantime the Cruze launched in the country, so it is probably safe to assume the Optra, still on sale, has gone down a few steps whereas the Cruze would have entered the Top 20.

Toyota is also relatively strong in Egypt with Yaris Sedan ranking 4th in my estimated Top 20 and the Corolla ranked 7th, as well as Mitsubishi, placing the previous generation Lancer in 6th place and the current generation, called Lancer EX, in 9th.

You will also see a lot of 1970’s-1980’s Ladas in the streets of Cairo as taxis, as they used to be assembled in the country. Now the only reminder of good relationships with the Eastern Bloc is the Skoda Octavia ranking 11th.

Egyptian drivers haven’t yet fallen for the charms of / decided to waste large sums of money on imposing 4WD’s and as such the Daihatsu Terios is likely to be the best-selling 4WD in the country, in 12th place.

Estimated Top 20 in Egypt for 2008:

Rank Model
1 Chevrolet Aveo
2 Hyundai Elantra
3 Speranza A516
4 Toyota Yaris Sedan
5 Chevrolet Optra
6 Mitsubishi Lancer
7 Toyota Corolla
8 Hyundai Matrix
9 Mitsubishi Lancer EX
10 Hyundai Verna
11 Skoda Octavia
12 Daihatsu Terios
13 Kia Cerato
14 Brilliance Galena
15 Speranza A620
16 Nissan Tiida
17 Honda Civic
18 Nissan Sunny
19 Speranza A113
20 Hyundai i10

This is it for Egypt! Now you know what to expect when you decide to fly there to explore pyramids, tombs and other diving spots (it is worth it by the way).

Note: I took all pictures featured in this article.

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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9 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: The Chinese Have Landed In Egypt...”

  • avatar

    I found the traffic in Cairo to be the biggest tourist attraction there. They do some sort of ballet that looks anarchic to the outsider but somehow the flow works. It was very “exciting” to be a passenger there.

    Now how odd it is that in an Arabic country, they do not use Arabic numbers for the license plates?

  • avatar

    @Autobraz: True, most Arabic countries use “Indian” numerals (١٢٣٤٥٦٧٨٩٠). Automotive Data for this Market are published on a monthly basis by (AMIC Report).

  • avatar

    When I was last in Egypt, it was 2003 and Daewoos and Ladas were the most prevalent, along with Chevy Caprices. Traffic? Horns take the place of brakes and everyone drives without lights at night (saves the battery is a common statement). One working traffic light and everyone ignored it. Why? According to my driver, who routinely went the wrong way down a one way street and who ignored every stop sign and speed limit, signs and lights were “merely suggestions.” When you think of what he said, it is true. If everyone one of the 17 million Cairenes obeyed the traffic laws, you’d have nonstop gridlock.

    Cairo makes Boston traffic look civilized :)

  • avatar


    Official data is now available for Egypt, so you can check out the TRUE Top 30 best selling models for May 2011 here:

    And Historical Data from 2006 to 2010 here:

    And my 2008 estimation was close enough to reality, which is always heart-warming! (yes I do take my car-counting seriously!). Except the Speranza A516 was not on the podium but #9. Still impressive for a Chinese model outside China.

    Also nice bit of trivia, the Speranza brand passed Toyota in Egypt in 2009 and is currently the 4th best selling passenger car brand in Egypt behind Hyundai, Chevrolet and Kia… (just so you can demonstrate your knowledge sometime – notice i didn’t say show off)


  • avatar

    Visited Egypt in ’05.

    I was stunned by how little road-rage I saw in Cairo, given the traffic density, thick smog, and hot climate. The same conditions in my own home city of Vancouver, Canada, would cause a riot faster than a lost hockey game!

    The taxi ride to the Pyramids was more interesting than the tombs themselves. My driver was very skilful, with the perfect mix of courtesy and aggression as he guided that old Lada over to Giza. I’ll always remember his bright grin as he watched me reflexively fumble for the non-existent shoulder belt.

    I learned that most of the horn-honking was about communication rather than mere exasperation.

    A typical conversation might run like this:

    One beep: “Let me in!”
    Two staccato beeps: “No!”
    Rapid succession of beeps: “I’m coming anyway, dammit!”
    One longer beep (slowing slightly to yield): “Alright already!”

    One thing for sure, those Cairene drivers always seemed to keep their eyes on the road and their heads in the game. But like most big city people, they actually like to talk up their town’s traffic insanity/lethality. Sort of like how Vancouverites secretly enjoy showing off their world-class junkies and meth-heads (“See? See? I tell ya, this place is hardcore!”)

    Pedestrian life in Cairo is also noteworthy. On my first day, I couldn’t cross the Midan Tahrir without first finding a little old lady to tag along with. It took awhile to get the confidence to routinely wade through eight or ten lanes of traffic that never stops.

    The motor accident rate was probably higher in Alexandria than in Cairo, judging from the ambulance sirens. Alexandria’s traffic is a bit lighter, and people can get to higher speeds than in the capital.

    n.b. those are Arabic numerals on the plates. Our Western versions, while similar, have been modified over time. While those numerals were probably first devised in India, Westerners call them “Arabic” because Europeans first learned to use them from the Arabs. By the same token, we call our alphabet “Roman,” although the Romans did not invent this system of writing.

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